Piano Forum

Topic: Amateur piano competitions: experiences and considerations  (Read 1066 times)

Offline snappingturtle

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Hello everyone.

Since this is my first post in this forum, and I cannot find a "Members Introduction" sub-forum, I thought I would introduce myself here first.  By day, I am a statistician working in medical research.  My first piano lesson ever was in 1989, and I have continued my studies throughout high school, throughout college, and even through the later years of grad school.  Right now, I am taking lessons from a teacher that I really like, and I try to put in consistent practice time.

I have been considering entering an amateur piano competition for a while.  I have targeted the Washington, DC one, but this year is the first year I have been able to participate because of the age restrictions.  I was thinking of entering into the 2015 competition, which would give me enough time to prepare the repertoire for it.

I wanted to hear about the experiences of others in this forum who have participated in an amateur piano competition, or to talk about amateur piano competitions with anyone else thinking of doing one (or anyone else in this forum for that matter).  For those that have done one, what was your general experience?  Do you find that some pieces and repertoire combinations are better-received than others in this setting?  For example, would it be smart to avoid Beethoven piano sonatas that have probably been performed by many participants in the past and are likely to be performed by other current participants such as the Appassionata or L'Aurore?  How receptive would the jury be toward a Liszt or Busoni transcription, as opposed to an "original" Romantic piece?  What are some considerations I might make when deciding what piece should be performed in which round, other than time considerations?  I am guessing it would be smart to save the pieces you believe you play best for the final round, but perform pieces that would make an impression in the first?

I was thinking of setting up my program with pieces that represent the various periods, namely one Bach piece, one classical sonata, one substantial Romantic piece, an etude, and one 20th century piece, that encompass a range of moods and textures.  Specifically, the repertoire I was considering is:

First round (15 minutes maximum):
 Chopin Scherzo No. 4 in E major Opus 54 (or some other Romantic piece about 9-11 minutes in length)
 Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableau in A minor Opus 39 No. 6

 OR

 Some Romantic piece or transcription about 7-9 minutes in length
 Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableau in E-flat minor Opus 39 No. 5

Second round (20 minutes maximum):
 Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major Opus 110

Final round (25 minutes maximum):
 Bach Prelude and Fugue in B minor from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book II
 Liebermann Gargoyles
 Liszt Transcendental Etude No. 11 in D-flat major

Currently, I have the Beethoven, the Bach, and the Liszt learned.  For the first round, I am leaning toward the second option (Opus 39 No. 5 plus some 7-9 minute Romantic piece) as this will be my first Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableau in nearly 14 years, and I hear Opus 39 No. 6 is one of the hardest, if not the hardest of them all (my teacher suggested one of these two for the upcoming semester, and when I asked her why she suggested Opus 39 No. 6 given its difficulty, she insisted that she believed Opus 39 No. 9 was the most difficult).  I'm also open to suggestions about this repertoire, specifically if I might benefit from ordering the pieces differently, or if I should substitute any of them with something else.

Thanks!