Bartók World Competition

Winners hail Bartók World Competition for invaluable musical and human experience

5 November 2021

The members of the string quartets that won the top three prizes - including the Hungarian musicians of the Vienna-based Chaos String Quartet - unanimously praised the professional organization of the competition, and all of them feel that Bartók's music has opened up new vistas for them, even though they have encountered it before.

The award ceremony and gala evening of the 2021 Bartók World Competition, organized by the Liszt Academy, took place on Sunday. During the event, it was revealed that the winner of the competition was the Quartet Integra of Japan. The musicians of the ensemble said after the ceremony that they managed to accomplish everything they planned, nevertheless the fact that they emerged as the winners took them by surprise. This was their first international competition, and therefore the event held paramount importance for them. The artists expressed their hope that the event would pave the way to many more successful competition appearances. The musicians commended the event, which they found to be excellent; they had a great rehearsal room and ample time to prepare for each round.

The ensemble performed Bartók's String Quartet No. 5 during the semi-finals; the artists noted that the musical ambiance of the piece reminds them a little of the time-honoured music played at traditional Japanese festivals, the matsuris. Even though the composition was relatively difficult to learn, the musicians stressed that they found it an exciting and highly expressive piece of work. The quartet spent two months preparing their repertoire for the competition. In an answer to the question as to how they intend to spend the 12,000-euro award that came with winning first place, they stressed that it would undoubtedly be spent on appearances in further competitions.


photo: Liszt Academy/Dénes Erdős


The musicians of the Vienna-based Chaos String Quartet, which has two Hungarian members, feel that winning the second prize was an outstanding result, especially as they came without expectations. They are hopeful that the result will open up new professional opportunities. Winning the three special prizes also took them by surprise: they received a concert invitation from Bartók Radio together with a recording opportunity, an invitation to perform at Festival Academy Budapest next summer, as well as the media package offered by Fidelio.

The quartet was pleased that the prizes will allow them to return to Hungary in the near future. Of the Bartók works they could choose from, the ensemble performed the String Quartet No. 4, which, in their unanimous opinion, was very challenging, but enriched them emotionally, intellectually and musically. They noted that the piece is an extremely exciting composition, also because of the solo parts for each member; as a result, however, it requires flawless preparation from the musicians. They highlighted the outstanding organization of the Bartók World Competition, adding that they had a good time and received all the help they needed. Although they had little time to socialize with the other ensembles, they still found the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations from time to time, they noted.


photo: Liszt Academy/Dénes Erdős


The members of the Sonoro Quartet from Belgium, which came in third, stressed that although each performance can be done better, it is more important to convey feelings, and they believe they have succeeded in that. They highlighted that it was an outstanding experience to be in a place and play music where Bartók also worked and to touch the blue ceramic balls in the stairwell of the gorgeous main building of the Liszt Academy, which he might have touched from time to time. They chose Bartók's String Quartet No. 1 from the mandatory repertoire, which they found difficult but enjoyable; in their view, it is a musically enriching composition that became their favourite quartet piece. In addition, the piece has made them curious about the other Bartók string quartets, which they intend to learn. For them, too, this is the first big international competition where they performed together, and they are convinced the event will open up many more opportunities in the future. Thanks to the special prizes – invitations from the Bartók Memorial House and the Auer Festival in Veszprém - they have already received concert propositions, so they will return to Hungary soon.


photo: Liszt Academy/László Mudra