May 28–June 12, 2021
Bass Performance Hall • Fort Worth, Texas USA
Marin Alsop, jury chairman

The best pianists in the world.
The ideal performance environment.
Unrivaled international exposure.
The launch of careers.

Widely considered one of the preeminent international music contests, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition exists to share excellent classical music with the largest international audience possible and to launch the careers of its winners every four years. Building on a rich tradition that began with its 1962 origins in honor of Van Cliburn and his vision for using music to serve audiences and break down boundaries, the Cliburn seeks, with each edition, to achieve the highest artistic standards while utilizing contemporary tools to advance its reach. The world’s top 18- to 30-year-old pianists compete for gold in front of a live audience in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as a global online viewership of over 5 million. Beyond cash prizes, winning a Cliburn medal means comprehensive career management, artistic support, and bolstered publicity efforts for the three years following.

The sixteenth edition of the Cliburn Competition will take place May 28–June 12, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas at Bass Performance Hall. On March 28, 2019, the Cliburn was proud to announce that American Marin Alsop will serve as jury chairman and will conduct the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra with the six finalists during the Competition’s Final Round.


September 2019–Major Elements Announced (Jury, Format, Repertoire Requirements, Composer, Artistic Collaborators)
October 2019–Applications Open
October 2020–Applications Due
January/February 2021–Screening Auditions
March 2021–Competitors Announced
May 28–June 12, 2021–Sixteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition


One of the world’s most distinguished and innovative conductors, Marin Alsop holds major appointments on three continents: music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2007; principal conductor and music director of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra since 2012; and chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra beginning September 2019. Among her many awards and academic positions, she is the only conductor to receive the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music and Royal Philharmonic Society, is a 2019 recipient of the World Economic Forum Crystal Award, and was recently appointed Director of Graduate Conducting at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute.

Marin Alsop’s ceiling-shattering career launched in 1989, when she was the first woman to be awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize from the Tanglewood Music Center, where she began studying with her mentor, Leonard Bernstein. Over the following three decades, she became the first woman to serve as music director for a major American orchestra, to hold the chief conducting role at each of her three orchestras, and to conduct the Last Night of the Proms. She will be the first woman to serve as jury chairman or to conduct during the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

In addition to her role as jury chairman, she will conduct the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra with the six finalists during the Competition’s Final Round. As chairman, she will consult on the jury selection process and set the tone and mandate of the jury; but she will abstain from voting throughout the Competition, except in the case of a tie after the Final Round.

“We could not be more pleased with this new partnership with Marin Alsop,” said Cliburn President and CEO Jacques Marquis. “Not only is she a powerful voice in classical music internationally and a fantastic conductor, she is also well known for her commitment to reaching new audiences and her encouragement of young artists. Each of these attributes perfectly complements the Cliburn’s mission and the goals of the Cliburn Competition. We look forward to working closely with her to spread classical music around the globe and to launch the careers of our new winners.”

“I’m really looking forward to working with the talented young pianists at the Cliburn Competition,” Alsop said. “Collaborating with this world-class organization that is devoted to nurturing future generations aligns with my commitment to education and passion for mentoring young musicians.”