The Cliburn

2017 Competition Rules & Requirements

The Cliburn invites talented pianists to apply for the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, taking place on May 25–June 10, 2017, in Fort Worth, Texas USA at Bass Performance Hall. Please read all rules and guidelines below carefully before you apply. After the application and live screening audition process, 30 pianists will be invited to compete.


For questions about the application process or requirements, please contact Melinda Willmann at or by phone at +1.817.738.6536.


  1. The Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, from May 25 to June 10, 2017, under the auspices of the Cliburn.
  2. In some cases foreign competitors will need visas. Applicants should consult the nearest American Embassy or Consulate for advice.
  3. Competitors must not have any other professional commitments during the time of the Competition. No exceptions will be allowed.
  4. All competitors accepted to the Competition will be provided a complimentary economy-class round-trip airplane ticket to Fort Worth.
  5. Competitors will be accommodated individually in private homes between May 20 and June 12, 2017, with meals, practice facilities, and transportation provided. Competitors will be responsible for their own accommodations on any days falling outside of this time period. Competitors who are not participating in the Quarterfinal, Semifinal, or Final Rounds of the Competition are not required to stay until the end of the Competition, although they are strongly encouraged to do so. Any cost incurred by changing dates of travel will be at the competitor’s expense. Accommodation is offered only to competitors accepted to the Competition and their spouses, and not to any other accompanying people.
  6. All information contained in this document was correct at the time of publication. However, the Cliburn reserves the right to make changes if circumstances dictate.


Important dates for applicants to the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition:

October 13, 2016                    Application submission deadline

December 6, 2016                  Final notification of acceptance or non-acceptance for Screening Auditions

January 2017                           Screening Auditions in Asia and Europe

February 2017                        Screening Auditions in the United States

March 7, 2017                         Final notification of acceptance or non-acceptance of competitors

April 3, 2017                            Last day to make repertoire or running order changes

May 22, 2017                          Piano selection begins

May 25, 2017                          Competition begins

June 10, 2017                          Awards Ceremony



The Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is open to pianists of all nationalities. First-prize winners of previous Cliburn Competitions are not eligible to compete. Applicants must have been born after June 10, 1986, and on or before May 25, 1999.



  1. All applications must be completed and submitted through the online system via
  2. All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. CST / GMT-6 on Thursday, October 13, 2016. No late or partial applications will be accepted.
  3. All applicants must submit a nonrefundable application fee of $125 US, payable through the online application system.
  4. Applications will include uploads of:
    1. 35–40 minute video performance.
    2. Birth certificate or equivalent proof of age.
    3. High resolution photographs (300 dpi or higher), including one headshot, suitable for publicity purposes.
    4. Copies of any press reviews or articles from the past five seasons.
  5. Applicants must submit contact information for four musicians as references.
  6. An acknowledgment will be sent to each applicant upon receipt of the completed Application Form and enclosures. Applicants will not be allowed to submit unless all information is complete.
  7. Applicants should retain copies of all materials sent with their applications. The Cliburn will accept no responsibility for applications not received.
  8. All applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and treated as confidential. The Cliburn reserves the right to request additional information from or about an applicant. All applicants will be notified by December 6, 2016, whether or not they have been accepted to perform in a screening audition.



  1. The Screening Audition schedule will be announced to the public on December 13, 2016. The Screening Auditions will be held in designated cities in Asia, Europe, and the United States during January and February 2017. Each applicant accepted for a screening audition is required to give a 40-minute recital before a live audience and the screening jury. Video recordings of performances by those applicants unable to attend the live Screening Auditions will be accepted only under special circumstances such as illness during the scheduled audition or prohibitive travel costs.
  2. A travel allowance will be provided to those applicants accepted for screening auditions for travel to and from the audition sites closest to their current residence under the following conditions:
    1. Surface public transportation (train, bus, or car) must exceed four hours from place of residence to audition site.
    2. Cost of transportation (economy or second class) must exceed $150 US for the round trip.
    3. Allowance does not cover transportation to or from airport, train station, etc. Allowance does not cover accommodations or meal expenses.
  3. If the above conditions are met, the Cliburn will reimburse the applicant the excess of expense for transportation over $150 US but not to exceed a total reimbursement of $350 US. The request and submission of a copy of the ticket must be received by the Cliburn by March 31, 2017, in order for the applicant to collect reimbursement. Payments of travel allowance will be made between April 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017.
  4. All applicants will be notified whether or not they have been accepted for the Competition no later than March 7, 2017. The 30 selected pianists will be announced to the public immediately thereafter.



  1. The Competition will consist of four separate rounds: Preliminary, Quarterfinal, Semifinal, and Final.
  2. The jury will not advance more than 20 pianists to the Quarterfinal Round, more than 12 to the Semifinal Round, or more than 6 to the Final Round.
  3. The order of appearance of pianists in the Preliminary Round will be determined by a drawing. The Preliminary and Quarterfinal Rounds of Competition will follow this order except for reasons of accident, illness, or other unusual circumstances at the discretion of the president of the Cliburn. The order of appearance in the Semifinal and Final Rounds will depend on rehearsal scheduling, program content, and administrative requirements, and may vary from that of the Preliminary and Quarterfinal Rounds. All phases of the Competition will be open to the public.
  4. A selection of pianos will be provided for the pianists’ performances. Time will be assigned to each pianist to choose his or her preferred instrument beginning May 22, 2017. Pianists will be notified of these assigned times.
  5. All rounds of the Competition will be broadcast live and recorded for subsequent broadcast, video, or audio recording use. It is anticipated that a CD recording of selected Competition performances will be commercially produced, that a documentary of the Competition incorporating selected performances will be produced for television and DVD, and that parts or all of the Competition will be made available on the Internet. Camera crews may videotape and/or photograph all Competition events. Neither the Cliburn nor its assignees or licensees may be held liable for any payments to pianists arising out of materials derived from Competition performances. Applicants are required to sign a release form yielding all rights on such materials to the Cliburn, its assignees, or its licensees.
  6. Pianists may not contact or speak with any member of the jury as long as they continue to compete in the Competition. Any violation of this rule may disqualify the pianist.



  1. The prizes and awards specified on the Cliburn website will constitute the only prizes and awards of the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. No other prizes, awards, or remuneration will be permitted, except by express decision of the Cliburn.
  2. Taxes will be deducted from prizes according to U.S. tax laws in effect at the time of the Competition.
  3. The Cliburn is in the process of negotiating a number of major recital and orchestra engagements for the prizewinners of the 2017 Competition, to be performed within the three-year period following the Competition. A list of potential engagements forming part of the prizes will be published in the Competition program book in May 2017. Scheduling of these engagements will take into account any prior commitments of the winners, but the winners will be expected to fulfill all prize engagements. Failure to do so may result in forfeiture of a winner’s claim to prizes, awards, and engagements, at the discretion of the Cabinet of the Cliburn. In addition, during the three years of management by the Cliburn, the winners will not accept any engagement without prior consultation with the Cliburn. The prizewinners will be required to sign an agreement outlining the above with the Cliburn following the Competition.
  4. The First, Second, and Third Prize winners will perform, if requested, a maximum of three recitals without charge for the benefit of the Cliburn.

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.


201 Main Street, Suite 100
Fort Worth, TX 76102


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