Retrospective - XIV. International Robert Schumann Competition for Piano and Voice

The XIV. International Robert Schumann Competition for Piano and Voice concluded with an enthralling winners' concert. Among others, the audience included Erich Illtgen, the president of the state parliament, former lord mayor Rainer Eichhorn, guests from Zwickau's twin city Zaanstad, members of the Frankfurt Robert Schumann Society and Günter Mieth and Erwin Killat, honorary citizens of the city of Zwickau. 127 young artists from 25 countries participated in the contest from the 8th to the 18th of June 2004. »In the last few days we have heard numerous performances, yet the real winner of the competition is Robert Schumann«, was the summation by the competition's president, Dr. Gerd Nauhaus.


The Japanese pianist Akiko Yamamoto and the tenor Colin Balzer took the first prizes in the Robert Schumann Competition for piano and voice. No first prize was awarded to any of the female singers in 2004. Instead, two silver medals were awarded to two German participants - the mezzosoprano Stefanie Iranyi and the soprano Lydia Teuscher. The bronze medal went to the soprano Julia Amos, also from Germany. The second prize in the piano category was awarded to the Frenchman Nicolas Bringuier, the third to Soojin Ahn from Korea. For the male singers, the second prize went to the Austrian tenor Daniel Wolfgang Johannsen. The bronze medal went to the Canadian baritone Peter Mc Gillivray. The special prize for best piano accompaniment was received by Erika Switzer.

To win, they were required to compete against their international rivals in three rounds. Two local heroes were of particular interest to the Zwickau populace, the soprano Inga-Britt Andersson and the pianist Martin Hecker.

The Competition in the category of piano was held, as per tradition, on the stage of the »Neue Welt«. The singers competed in the Cloth Hall (Gewandhaus) to qualify for the final round. This final round, as well as the winners' gala, was held in the Concert and Ballroom House.

This was Martin's first appearance in a major competition. In fact, his teacher had sought to dissuade him from debuting in front of his hometown public due to the particular difficulties that might arise. However, Martin Hecker has said that he considered the Zwickau locals' active support during his performance to have been a positive incentive as he advanced as far as the second round of competition. His personal conclusion is that his first appearance in such a major competition was a wonderful experience and he is very grateful to the Zwickau public for their encouragement. The final rounds were particularly demanding in terms of ability and concentration.

The awards ceremony was held, as per tradition, in the Robert Schumann House. The victors received their medals and certificates from the Lord Mayor of the city of Zwickau Dietmar Vettermann as well as from representatives of both of the principal sponsors AUDI AG and Sparkasse Zwickau.