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Young pianistCelia Mendez Young Pianist’s Beethoven Competition

Philosophy of the
Young Pianist's Beethoven Competition

The Young Pianist's Beethoven competition was founded in 1987 by Celia Méndez, a San José private piano teacher, with the purpose of creating an artistic learning experience and a pedagogical tool for California High School students that would inspire and support them in their study of Beethoven's piano sonatas. Consistent with this purpose, the "prize" of the competition is participation in a master class given to the three finalists by an internationally renowned artist. Added awards are performing opportunities such as the one offered in the past by the "Grand Piano" television program and presently by the Steinway Society The Bay Area--and a monetary prize, this last one having only an ancillary character.

In order to emphasize the artistic-pedagogical tenets of this competition, the focus has been diverted from the order of placement (first, second and third place) to the recognition of overall artistic merit by selecting three award winners to participate in the master class without assigning them first, second or third places.

The process of selection starts with a preliminary evaluation of the taped performances submitted by the contestants. From these taped performances a panel of judges selects six finalists to participate in the final competition held at San José State University's School of Music and Dance.

The elements that determine the selection of the students are: individuality of interpretation, communication on an emotional level, general musicality, and stylistic understanding. Great performances are always individual, thoughtful, and touch the spirit. Although technical mastery is a "must," it should be reiterated that the true aim of this competition is to encourage performances of Beethoven's sonatas which reflect unique personal expression and which are original within the context of broad stylistic performance traditions. It should always be kept in mind that as confirmed by recent scholarship Beethoven's playing "was oriented toward the goal of emotional expression."

In order to expand the participation of professional musicians in the activities of this event we request the cooperation of members of the California professional music associations as members of the committee or as adjudicators. An effort is also made to include in the final competition a judge who resides in Southern California.

It should be noted that the professional ethic and the standing in the musical community of the judges that have served in the YPB competitions have precluded any consideration in reaching their final decisions, other than their artistic convictions and the goals of the competition (judges do not have access to the programs distributed to the public during the finals). Great effort is made to control the factors that can guarantee the fairness of the procedures, such as assuring the anonymity of the contestant's teachers.

As expressed by Dr. Thomas Wendel, former president of the American Beethoven Society, "In an age in which young people are far less exposed to classical music than in past times, we believe that the YPB competition has ever greater relevance. Perhaps of all composers, it is Beethoven who can best help shape youthful ideals of truth, beauty, and intellectual integrity, qualities that particularly define the thirty-two piano sonatas."

Philosophy Finalists
Eligibility and procedures Master Teachers
Committee Sponsors
Judges Application brochure