The Violin Channel recently sat down with Markus Klein, President of the Guadagnini Foundation.
Can you tell us a little about the Guadagnini Foundation? When was it founded, by whom, and what would you say is its main purpose?
The foundation was established as a commitment to the musical character of the state capital. It was a lengthy process, and the foundation was registered as a non-profit organization in 2018.
The guiding principle of the Guadagnini Foundation "from enthusiasm to sponsorship" is to support young, highly talented string players in an outstanding way and to offer them an ideal platform in a competitive world.
Why is this so important for you personally? What are your aims for the foundation over the next 10 years?
Helping to pave the way towards a good musical and artistic future for young, talented international musicians is something that is close to my heart, and to the heart of the foundation. In addition to financial support, the opportunity to play on an important instrument and to perform in numerous concerts, especially with orchestras, after winning the first prize, is of inestimable value in the development of an artist's career. Our intention is to be considered one of the leading international violin competitions in the near future.
One of the foundation’s most important initiatives was the inaugural competition in Stuttgart in 2021. How did this project come into being, and are you proud of what you and your team achieved in these difficult times?
We are indeed very happy that we were able to hold the competition after an initial postponement from February to July. With very few exceptions, all the musicians selected by the jury were able to participate. This is also true for all of the participants because the competition naturally relies on the quality of the jury and the pianists. From the very beginning, we attached great importance to the fact that the competition should be run as if it had been tried and tested for years, and especially those people who had the experience of similar international competitions confirmed to us that we had exceeded our goal, which is very satisfying.
In your opinion, in what way does the Stuttgart competition differ from other international competitions? What would you do differently next time?
Well, we focused on our preparation and procedures being as perfect as possible, so that all the candidates felt supported and valued. We never wanted to criticize, as some other competitions do, but to convey to the young musicians, from the welcome on the first day to the personal feedback from the jury members after each round, that the promotion of their talent is the central idea of the Stuttgart competition. An event like this can only be special if it projects its own spirit and its own authentic philosophy and radiates these ideas to the participants. In addition, the perfect symbiosis with our partners, the University of Music and Performing Arts and the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, have been the cornerstones of this competition.
The impressive winner of the first prize last year, Eva Rabchevska, received a generous financial prize and the loan of a fantastic 1746 violin by GB Guadagnini. In what other ways will the foundation support Eva’s career development?
The core of the support we offer is concerts — both with orchestra and recitals — which is absolutely the most important thing for a young talent. The foundation supports every first prize winner with engagements over three years, i.e. until the start of the next competition. This also applies to the loan of the violin with which Eva Rabchevska can now present herself and which will complement her skills. To play an instrument like this is a challenge in itself — it is not easy to do it justice but mastering artistic challenges is the best way to professionalism.
When will the next competition take place? Do you envisage a similar format?
The next competition will take place from 19th to 26th February 2024. The format will be similar, with an ongoing collaboration with the University of Music and Performing Arts and the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra. The commitment of the Minister President of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, is also in place and the arrangements for the jury, again chaired by Professor Ingolf Turban, are underway. The framework of the competition, therefore, remains the same. As far as the content is concerned, we are working on enhancing the breadth of the participants’ presentations, but this is still provisional and therefore it is too soon to comment further.
What other initiatives does the foundation offer, or might offer in the future?
We are initially concentrating on promoting top international violin talent and on establishing the competition’s reputation. We would like the Stuttgart International Violin Competition to become a household name in every conservatory worldwide, and also a goal for young musicians to work towards. We intend to stay in touch with our previous prize winners and we have further ideas about supporting young, aspiring talents to enter the competition one day. This means developing and facilitating support for young, emerging talents, which may lead them to our competition.
What advice would you give to young artists?
Practice hard, we are waiting for you!
The Stuttgart International Violin Competition offers its winners €60,000 in prize money, and the top winner will benefit from the loan of a prestigious instrument for three years plus solo engagements with various prominent orchestras in Europe.
Watch a presentation of the 2021 inaugural edition of the Stuttgart International Violin Competition below: