The Cliburn

Amateur Competition History

The International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs was inaugurated in 1999 and was the first of its kind in the United States. Described by the Boston Globe as “a celebration of music, and the people who have to make music no matter what,” it was established by then Cliburn Executive Director Richard Rodzinski at the encouragement of Nela Rubinstein, late wife of legendary pianist Artur Rubinstein. The contest highlights the importance of music-making in everyday life and provides a forum for musicians age 35 and older who do not derive their primary source of income from the playing, teaching, or composing of piano music.

Approximately 75 competitors from all over the world are invited to participate in the Amateur Competition based on their written application and a current recording. The competition is comprised of three recital rounds with programs left to the choice of the performers. Several activities are organized throughout the festival week to provide ample opportunities for participants to meet and play for one another on an informal basis. Competition performances take place at Ed Landreth Auditorium on the campus of Texas Christian University and are open to the public.

A wide array of prizes is presented at a public Awards Ceremony, though for most competitors the real prize is the chance to share their passion for music with like-minded individuals and an appreciative audience. Past winners of the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs come from a wide variety of professions and backgrounds.

Our Mission

It is the mission of the Cliburn to advance classical piano music throughout the world. Its international competitions, education programs, and concert series embody an enduring commitment to artistic excellence and the discovery of young artists.



The Cliburn is a not-for-profit organization governed by a board of directors, elected for a four year term. It is sustained by the generous support from individuals, foundations, corporations, the tireless efforts of volunteers, and embraced by the community of Fort Worth. The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is a proud member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions.


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