Established in 1951 by the Besançon Music Festival, the Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors soon became the most prestigious event of its kind. It took place every year until 1992, and thereafter every two years.

With a repertoire which spans classical, Romantic, 20th century, and contemporary music, as well as oratorio, oper, the Besançon Conducting Competition is the most complete competition in the world.

Alexander Gibson, Sergiu Comissiona, Gerd Albrecht, Seiji Ozawa, Michel Plasson, Zdenek Macal, Jiri Kout, Jesus Lopez Cobos, Hubert Soudant, Sylvain Cambreling and Yutaka Sado are among the most prestigious winners of this Conducting Competition.

List of winners since 1951

Nodoka Okisawa, laureate of the 2019 Grand Prix © Yves Petit

Specificities of the Besançon Competition

The Besançon Competition is open to all artists under 35 who wish to become professional conductors, whatever their training or their experience ; no previous diploma is required.

The Besançon Competition is the only one where candidates are not selected on their documentation (neither biography nor videos).

Rules of the Competition (2019)

The competition opens 270 places per edition: registrations close as soon as the seating limit is reached.

Preliminaries

Candidates have to perform during live auditions behind closed doors which take place on three continents: Pékin, Montréal, Berlin and Besançon.

Each candidate is required to conduct symphonic works performed by two pianists on two pianos. They only have a few minutes to convince the two jury members.

final rounds

After the preliminaries only twenty candidates will be entered into the orchestra rounds to be held  in September during the Besançon International Music Festival.

All of the rounds with orchestra are open to the public and all works are imposed. The candidates will either be asked to conduct entire pieces or excerpts, or to rehearse the artists under their musical direction, according to their interpretation or at the jury’s request.

Preliminaries

First round in September

The Grand Prix

It is awarded by the jury, which reserves the right not to award the Grand Prix. It cannot be shared.

The Grand Prix has:

  • €12,000
  • Advice and coaching : Since 2015, the Competition decided to offer the laureate a three-month period of artistic guidance with Aimée Paret, specialized in consulting and accompaniment of young chefs. The goal is to take the time to take stock with the winner on its strengths and potential weaknesses, establish a career strategy, select an artistic agency and possibly negotiate the contract.
    This accompaniment is fundamental for the spotlight of the Grand Prix of Besançon is a career stepping stone.
  • Professional integration: the laureate may also be offered engagements with the Competition’s partner orchestras (see below)
  • a LIP watch offered by our partner
  • an Ipad offered by our partner Newzik (Music reading solution)
  • an original trophy made by students from the Lycée Saint-Joseph

“Coups de cœur” and mention

The audience attending the Final is called to vote to award the “Coup de cœur du public” (audience’s favorite).
Musicians of the orchestra of the Final are also be called to vote by secret ballot to designate the “Coup de cœur de l’orchestre” (orchestra’s favorite).

The jury can also award a Special Mention (the Competition may endow it with a cash prize).

Competition partners

Institutional partners

  • Ministère de la culture et de la communication / DRAC Franche-Comté
  • Ville de Besançon
  • Conseil Régional Bourgogne – Franche-Comté
  • Conseil Départemental du Doubs
  • Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing
  • Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler, Berlin
  • Faculté de musique de l’Université de Montréal
  • Conservatoire à rayonnement régional du Grand Besançon
  • with support of the Caisse des Dépôts, sponsor of the Competition

2019 Partner orchestras

  • Saint Petersburg Symphony Orchestra
  • Orchestre national de Lille
  • London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Sinfonia Varsovia
  • Orchestre Symphonique Bienne Soleure
  • Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège
  • Orchestre de Dijon-Bourgogne
  • Orchestre national de Lyon
  • Liverpool Philharmonic
  • Orchestre de Padoue et de Vénétie