Date of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Committee Chair

Elizabeth Moak

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Ellen Elder

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Michael Bunchman

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Joseph Brumbeloe

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Edward Hafer

Committee Member 5 School



In the last ninety years, international music competitions have increased steadily. According to the 2011 Yearbook of the World Federation of International Music Competitions (WFIMC)—founded in 1957—there were only thirteen world-federated international competitions at its founding, with at least nine competitions featuring or including piano. One of the founding competitions, the Chopin competition held in Warsaw, dates back to 1927. The number of world-federated international competitions has since increased to 122 in 2019, with a total of fifty-nine piano competitions (thirty-two dedicated solely to piano). More and more, pianists strive to participate in several competitions in order to win a competition title and its tangible benefits such as prize monies and/or additional concerts.

However, there are many pianists, but few prizes. It is always a challenge for contestants to stand out from the vast number of outstanding pianists, to be noticed by the public, and to develop their career. “How will the choice of repertoire influence the competition results” or “what is the best repertoire to play in the competition” become important questions when contestants are selecting repertoire for a competition.

This research is thus focused on the use of repertoire in the WFIMC piano competitions. It will explore the question whether there is a beneficial repertoire for contestants by analyzing the use of competition repertoire and comparing the choice of repertoire between different contestants. It will sample several well-known international piano competitions such as the Long-Thibaud-Crespin Competition in Paris, France; the Géza Anda Competition in Zurich, Switzerland; the International Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition in Bolzano, Italy; and the International Telekom Beethoven Piano Competition Bonn in Germany. It will examine these factors: repertoire requirements of different competitions, repertoire choices offered for each round, repertoire difficulty, and choice of repertoire by the performers.