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.
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:
The Dublin International Piano Competition was established in 1987 with the following aims:
Patrons & Board of Directors
Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland
The Competition has charity status and was incorporated in 1986 as a Company Limited by Guarantee with no Share Capital.
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.