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competitions, musical

competitions, musical. The urge to compete is basic to human nature and musicians are no exception. Reports of mus. contests go back to ancient times but the modern form developed in the late 18th cent. in Great Britain. Brass band contests began early in the 19th cent. but even more widespread were the choral competitions and those between individual instrumentalists. From 1904 these have been organized by what is now the Brit. Federation of Mus. Fest., apart from the Welsh eisteddfodau. Similar competitions, mainly involving amateurs, are firmly est. in many other countries. Other forms of mus. competition on a high professional (and commercial) level have developed, incl. competitions for composers, conds., and for instrumentalists (notably the Moscow Tchaikovsky pf. competition, the Leeds pf. competition, the Carl Flesch award for violinists, the Mitropoulos prize for conds., the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium competition, the BBC's ‘Young Musician of the Year’, and numerous others). Undoubtedly the most famous mus. competitions are those involving Tannhäuser and Wolfram in the Hall of Song at the Wartburg Castle in Wagner's Tannhäuser (Act II) and the song contest on the banks of the River Pegnitz at Nuremberg in Act III Sc.2 of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg—both events being based on reality. In lighter vein there is the annual Eurovision song contest, promoted by European TV organizations, to discover the best ‘pop song’ of the year according to the votes of an int. jury.

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