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.

Grand Prix : €12,000. The laureate may also be offered engagements with the Competition’s partner orchestras, as well a three-month period of artistic guidance (advice and coaching) by Aimée Paret. The jury can award a Special Mention.

The Grand Prix of the 56th Competition (2019) was awarded to the Japanese Nodoka Okisawa.

List of winners since 1951

Specificities of the Competition

The 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 (biography) but during live auditions which take place on three continents (Pékin, Montréal, Berlin and Besançon). Each candidate is required to conduct symphonic works performed by two pianos.
After theses preliminaries only twenty candidates will be entered into the orchestra rounds to be held in Besançon in September. Only one person can win the Grand Prix!

Competition 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