The history and background of Carl Nielsen International Competition

The world has changed since the most recent Competition in 2019 and the Carl Nielsen International Competition has adjusted its focus accordingly to reflect the challenges of our times. Most importantly young talent needs support and opportunities to overcome the uncertainties that face them as future Ambassadors for the Arts.

Vision and Strategy

The Carl Nielsen International Competition is taking responsibility to ensure that tomorrow’s musicians have the necessary tools and skills to meet the challenges they face in today’s world. Much of this is about equipping young artists with skills in areas such as self-awareness and management, motivation, social awareness and communication. Such tools will help them to build stronger relationships, to lead and influence others and communicate efficiently with partners and colleagues across the globe.

Whilst the competition platform remains vital, introducing a mentoring programme and possibilities for young musicians to connect with both colleagues and peers is equally important if we are to succeed in our responsibility for supporting the next generation. Espansiva! will include both group and one-to-one talks, workshops, networking opportunities and informal concerts with jury members and participants.

A further collaboration between the Odense Symphony Orchestra, Danish Music Academies, MGK Fyn and Funen music schools has created an additional opportunity for the Competition to engage with even younger musicians across the country. Through a series of workshops a Carl Nielsen Competition Youth Orchestra is created and invited to perform at the opening concert of the Competition.

Competition Concept

Based on Odense Municipality’s cultural policy and strategy for solutions in promoting human values and economic growth, the Carl Nielsen International Competition will increase the local community’s ownership in the Competition. Strategic partnerships with national media and local businesses will ensure strong awareness and visibility at national level and the jury’s profile will further increase visibility internationally.

With the 10th Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in 2016, the Competition extended its goals in close collaboration with Jury Chairman, Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider, a prize winner himself in 1992. Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider added several new perspectives to the Violin Competition, including the introduction of a large-scale workshop and concert with talented string players from music schools across Denmark.

For the 2019 edition, focus was given to transparency and fairness and, for the first time, the competition was livestreamed in its entirety thanks to a close collaboration with medici.tv, which resulted in broadcasts to 152 countries worldwide.

In Spring 2022 (31 March – 10 April), the birthplace of Carl Nielsen will once again come alive when all three Competitions (flute, clarinet and violin) take place simultaneously. 72 young contestants, 21 jury members and world-wide coverage will give focus and energy to the next generation of musicians, with an emphasis on the qualities exemplified by Carl Nielsen himself –  Excellence, Curiosity, Individuality and Community.

The Odense Symphony Orchestra and Carl Nielsen International Competition

The Carl Nielsen International Competition was founded in the late 1970’s by the Odense Symphony Orchestra’s then Chief Conductor, Karol Stryja, Concertmaster Peder Elbæk and the City’s Mayor, Mr. Verner Dalskov. In 1980, the first violin competition took place, followed in 1997 and 1998 by the first clarinet and flute competitions. In the intervening years all three competitions have taken place on a regular basis in Odense.

The Odense International Organ Competition was founded in the mid-80’s by two of Odense’s leading organists, Poul Børch from Odense Cathedral and Henning Nielsen from Sct. Hans Church, together with the Mayor of Odense, Mr. Verner Dalskov. The Organ Competition was held for the first time in 1986 organized by the City of Odense. As of 1 January 2009 the Organ Competition was added as a fourth discipline of the Carl Nielsen International Competition. In 2013 the competition was reorganized to its current structure to ensure further development and international recognition, and since 2019 the competitions for Violin, Flute and Clarinet are all held simultaneously. The Organ Competition is no longer a part of the Carl Nielsen International Competition, but continues to be hosted by the Danish National Academy of Music.

From its inception, the Carl Nielsen International Competition has been hosted by the Odense Symphony Orchestra, which provides both the funding and participation of the orchestra at the final concerts as well as other events during the competition. The Carl Nielsen International Competition is a significant part of the Nielsen profile of the Odense Symphony Orchestra.