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The Organisation

The Competition

The inaugural Dublin International Piano Competition was held in 1988 and has continued triennially. The Competition celebrated its 30th anniversary with the 11th Competition in May 2018.  Since its foundation, the Competition has grown in stature, and now ranks among the most important piano competitions in the world.

John O’Conor, Ann Fuller, Laurie Cearr and Ida Delamer. Image: courtesy of the Irish Times

How it all began

The 1980’s Ireland, which was in the throes of an economic recession, was an unlikely setting for high-profile international events. It was audacious to contemplate establishing an international piano competition in Ireland to rival other leading events in the world. But in 1987, that is what John O’Conor, already winner of international competitions including the Beethoven  and the Bösendorfer Competitions in Vienna, and Ann Fuller created. With Laurie Cearr, then PR Manager with the RTÉ Performing Groups, and Ida Delamer, the renowned silver expert, the embryonic management team launched the Dublin International Piano Competition, with the first competition taking place the following year, 1988.

The Competition offers a generous prize fund, but perhaps the most important prize is the prestigious list of engagements secured for the winner. These include début concerts in London and New York, as well as appearances at international festivals, and concertos with leading orchestras.  Previous winners have launched highly successful international careers from this springboard.

The Dublin International Piano Competition makes a dynamic contribution to the cultural enhancement of Dublin.  It is inclusive and impressive, bringing the Competitors on a unique journey with a rewarding result.

The Competition attracts an enormous international entry and is adjudicated by distinguished members of the music profession from around the world.  From 1988 until 2022 the Jury was chaired by the Competition’s Artistic Director John O’Conor.  In March 2023 Irish pianist Finghin Collins was appointed Artistic Director and Chairman of the Jury from the 2025 Competition onwards.

Corporate sponsorship has sustained the competition from the beginning. The first three competitions were generously supported by the GPA Group.  In 1994, sponsorship was taken over by Guardian Insurance, and when AXA acquired the company in 1999, AXA also took over title sponsorship for the next decade.

The Competition continues to be funded through a mix of corporate donations and individual benefactors.

The Dublin International Piano Competition is a member of the Alink-Argerich Foundation and the World Federation of International Music Competitions.

Previous winners currently engaged in successful careers include:

  • Philippe Cassard, France (1988)
  • Pavel Nersessian, Russia (1991)
  • Davide Franceschetti, Italy (1994)
  • Max Levinson, USA (1997)
  • Alexei Nabioulin, Russia (2000)
  • Antti Siirala, Finland (2003)
  • Romain Descharmes, France (2006)
  • Alexej Gorlatch, Ukraine (2009)
  • Nikolay Khozyainov, Russia (2012)
  • Nathalia Milstein, France (2015)
  • Sae Yoon Chon, South Korea (2018)
  • The 2022 winner Yukine Kuroki (Japan) has begun a series of international engagements.

Mission Statement

The Dublin International Piano Competition was established in 1987 with the following aims:

  • To provide an opportunity for young Irish pianists to participate in an international competition of the highest standard;
  • To bring to Dublin the worlds best young professional pianists;
  • To offer the Competitors  the opportunity of being heard by international agents and press under concert conditions which will help launch them on a successful professional performing career;
  • To present prizewinner recitals in major concert halls abroad, such as Londons Wigmore Hall, and New Yorks Carnegie Hall, to broaden their career opportunities.
  • To negotiate with and obtain agents to assist the progress of their careers;
  • To promote the cultural identity of Ireland abroad;
  • To generate a more widespread interest and awareness of the work of Irish composers by commissioning works which will be played in the semi-finals of the Competition;
  • To promote the performance of music through concerts which are not mainstream events, such as the Piano Spectacular, the Mozart Concerto Gala and Philippe Cassards Debussy Day.

The Organisation

Patrons & Board of Directors


Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Board of Directors

  • John Hannon (Chairperson)
  • Jane Susan Bourke
  • Joe Brennan
  • Tony Carey
  • Philippa Cottle
  • John Coulter
  • Yvonne Mays


  • Finghin Collins (Artistic Director)
  • Adrienne Carolan (Executive Director)
  • Christina Appleby (Administrator)

Corporate Structure

The Competition has charity status and was incorporated in 1986 as a Company Limited by Guarantee with no Share Capital.

Financial Management

Dublin International Piano Competition operates on a three-year basis, in line with each competition cycle.  Overseen by a hands-on Board that includes former CEOs of major companies, the Competition is managed prudently and has recorded positive results in each financial cycle to date. The Competition’s accounts are audited by Roberts Nathan Corporate & Private.


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