Under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Mathilde
The Queen Elisabeth Competition was established in 1937. At the time it was known as the Eugène Ysaÿe Competition. H.M. Queen Elisabeth and the celebrated Belgian violinist and composer were behind this magnificent project. The first edition took place thanks to the financial support offered by the de Launoit family and a number of personalities from the Belgian artistic and economic worlds. It was not until after the war, in 1951, that the Queen Elisabeth Competition really came into being.
The Competition soon became one of the leading international competitions for the violin and the piano; later, it was extended to include composition and (since 1988) the voice; it will soon also include the cello (starting in 2017). The Queen Elisabeth Competition owes its reputation in part to the very strict rules under which it is organised, but it also owes much to its prestigious jury, made up of outstanding artists and internationally renowned educators. This jury, already present at the preselection stage, which is held behind closed doors and is now based on viewing DVDs, is enlarged for the public rounds, which take place in the month of May. The Competition aims, above all, to help talented young musicians launch their international careers, by offering them an opportunity to perform before a large audience, during the first round and semi-final in Flagey and in the final at the Brussels Centre for Fine Arts (Palais des Beaux-Arts). Extensive media broadcasting (on radio, television, and the Internet) of each session offers candidates a chance to come into contact with professionals from all over the world and to take up numerous opportunities for engagements worldwide.
The Queen Elisabeth Competition is an independent non-profit association, run by a Board of Directors and an Executive Committee. It operates with limited fixed costs; its main financial resources come from ticket sales and subscriptions for its various musical events
While it does not benefit from any ongoing institutional subsidy, the association receives backing from the different levels of public authority in the country in the form of prizes presented to the first six laureates of each violin, piano, voice, or cello competition.
Nonetheless, the Competition could not exist without the invaluable support of its long-term corporate sponsors and of its private donors. It also frequently benefits from legacies.
These proofs of the appreciation of music-lovers bear witness to the affection in which the Competition is held by a very broad public.
It is thanks also to a range of partnerships with musical institutions both in Belgium and abroad and to the assistance of its volunteers and generous friends that the Queen Elisabeth Competition is able to maintain the quality and development of its activities on behalf of young artists and thus help to establish their reputations with both professionals and the public.
In 1965, following the death of Queen Elisabeth, Queen Fabiola took the Queen Elisabeth Competition under her patronage. She remained the Competition's Honorary President until 2013. Now, continuing a long-standing tradition within the Royal Family, Her Majesty Queen Mathilde has agreed to take the Competition under her patronage.
The Queen Elisabeth Competition is member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions