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The Queen Elisabeth Contest is an international music contest in Belgium, founded in 1937 by Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. First, the contest was called Eugène Ysaÿestrijd, as a tribute to Eugène Ysaÿe, who died in 1931. In 1951 the match was named Elisabeth in Bavaria, full: Elisabeth Gabriele Valérie Marie, Princess of Belgium, Princess von Wittelsbach, Duchess in Bavaria (Possenhofen, July 25, 1876 – Laeken, November 23, 1965). She was the wife of King Albert I of Belgium, the third queen of the Belgians.

The competition takes place in Brussels and is open to young musicians. There is a contest for pianists, violinists and singers every three years. In May 2017, a competition for cellists will be organized for the first time. There was also a contest for composers, who was organized every two years, just like the match for piano or violin. The winning work then served as a mandatory final work for the pianists or violinists. From 2015 there will be no competing match, but will be compulsory final work for piano, cello or violin commissioned by a Belgian composer.

This competition is one of the more demanding music competitions in the world. Her name is also the olympiade of the music. One also devotes a lot of time and energy to aftercare. The competition consists of a DVD-preselection and from 2017 on the basis of a video uploaded on the website, a first round, a semi-final with 24 participants and a final with twelve participants. Previously, all finalists were awarded the title “laureate”, but from the 1995 piano competition, only the six most ranked finalists are laureates, and the others are ex aequo ranked “finalist”. After the semi-finals, the finalists of the piano, cello and violin contest are isolated for one week in the Queen Elizabeth Elisabeth Music Theater at Waterloo, where they can not receive a visit and may not be in contact with the outside world. During this isolation they have to study the work composed specifically for this competition, repeating them with the orchestra several times. In addition, the free young participants must have an extensive repertoire. The Queen Elizabeth match is thus one of the longest music matches. Participants should therefore have a high level of mental and physical endurance.

The final concerts take place in the grand concert hall of the Palace of Fine Arts in Brussels and are broadcast directly by radio, television and internet. Later, the final will be released on CD. The premiere took place in the Royal Conservatory of Brussels until 2011, which will take place in Flageygebouw since 2012. The participants are judged by an international jury of renowned musicians.

Queen Fabiola was the patron of the contest for almost fifty years until 2013. Queen Mathilde took this role from the 2014. The Queen Mathilde Prize (formerly Queen Fabiola Prize) is awarded annually for the first prize winner. The competition and the laureates are of great interest to the Belgian court. The jury members are received each year at the Royal Palace for dinner. Queen Elisabeth maintained personal contacts with the jury and the laureates. The jury presidents of the competition were successively: Marcel Cuvelier (1951-1959), Léon Jongen (1960-1962), Marcel Poot (1963-1980), Eugène Traey (1981-1995) and Arie Van Lysebeth (from 1996 to the present) .

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