Promoting young talent

International Johann Heinrich Schmelzer Competition

The International Johann Heinrich Schmelzer Competition was established in 1993 and is named after the innovative composer and violinist at the Habsburg court in 17th century Vienna. The competition is every three years at Melk Abbey.

While Helmut Pilss, founder of the Melk Pentecost Concerts, and Bernhard Trebuch wanted to use the competition to revive interest in the works of Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber and Johann Joseph Fux, it was also intended to foster the young and aspiring Baroque music scene which was emerging throughout Europe.

The result was a unique competition seeking to recognize and encourage the individuality and diversity of this scene. Young musicians and soloists have an opportunity to compete, performing infront of a jury in five categories: voice, ensemble, string, wind and keyboard instruments. 

Max Volbers (recorder), who won first prize in the last competition in 2017, states: "Competitions are extreme situations for a musician, the pressure is immense! Months of preparation have to be condensed into just a few minutes, where you just need let go and fully immerge into the music. This competition made this easy: both rounds took place in beautiful rooms with an excellent harpsichordist and in front of a wonderful audience. You could feel the joy and love for early music in this room – never before have I had the pleasure of experiencing such an electrifying atmosphere. The competition is organized by a great team, that looks after every detail with the utmost dedication and support – it was perfect!

The public concert by the finalists showcases the results of the three-day competition.

The promotion of young artists has been a matter very close to Michael Schade's heart for years. Michael Schade dedicated himself to further develop this traditional competition. Thanks to his commitment and Capital Bank sponsorship, the prize has been increased to EUR 5,000. In addition the winner of this competition will get a concert booking for the following season of the Internationale Barocktage Stift Melk.


Winners of the  International Johann Heinrich Schmelzer Competition

1st prize: Max Volbers, recorder (Austria)
Advancement award: Evgeni Sviridov, violin (Russia)

1st prize: Tabea Debus


1st prize: Jan van Hoecke, recorder (Switzerland) and Anne Freitag, transverse flute (Switzerland)
Audience award: Jan van Hoecke, recorder (Switzerland)

1st prize: Duo Lesaulnier (France)
Ensemble prize: Michael Hell, harpsichordist of the ensemble Vezzoso (Austria)

1st prize: Ensemble Vivante (Austria)

1st prize: Barbara Tisler, soprano (Slovenia)

 2nd prizes: Maia Silberstein, broque violin (Belgum);
Maria Mittermayr, transverse flute (Austria);
Benedek Csalog, transverse flute (Hungary)

1st prize: Susanne Pumhösl, harpsichord (Austria)

1st prize: not awarded
2nd prize: Blockflöten Ensemble Schwertberg (Austria)

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