2020 Virtual Piano Competition

We are excited to announce that The Princeton Festival Piano Competition is going digital!

Now in its fourteenth year, The Princeton Festival Piano Competition attracts over a hundred young artists from the tri-state area, across the United States, and around the world. The competition is adjudicated by distinguished conservatory faculty and accomplished concert performers, and awards certificates and cash prizes to the winner of each category.

Applications for our 2020 competition are now closed.



The 2020 Princeton Festival Piano Competition is a virtual event. Each artist must submit a single unedited video recording of their performance with the respective application no later than September 7, 2020 at 11:59 pm. (See below for instructions.) The adjudicators will choose three finalists from each category to progress to the finals.

The festival will present the finalists’ videos in concert on the festival’s website, princetonfestival.org, on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 3:00 pm EDT. The winners of the competition will be announced at the end of the concert on September 23, 2020.

The Princeton Festival Piano Competition will award the following prizes to the winners of their respective categories:

Elementary Artists (ages 6-9): $100 and Certificate

Intermediate Artists (ages 10-12): $150 and Certificate

Junior Artists (ages 13-15): $200 and Certificate

Senior Artists (ages 16-18): $500 and Certificate

Piano Four-Hands (age 25 and under): $200 per person and Certificates

Open Class (age 25 and under): $1,000 and Certificate


  1. The Princeton Festival Piano Competition is open to artists of any nationality, state, or country of residence.
  2. The registration fee for the competition is $50 except for the Open Class, where the registration fee is $75. The registration fee is non-refundable, even if the competitor withdraws from the competition.
  3. There is no pre-screening round. Artists who apply by September 7, 2020 and pay the requisite registration fee(s) will qualify for the competition’s preliminary round.
  4. Artists may enter more than one category according to their respective age on September 23, 2020. Proof of age is required with the application.
  5. Artists who are students or relatives of the adjudicators or a Princeton Festival official may not enter the competition.


All artists except those in the Open Class must submit a video recording featuring one selection from the list that corresponds to their category.

Elementary Artists (ages 6-9)

  • Reinecke: Prelude (1st mvt.) from Serenade in C, Op. 183, no. 1 (ABRSM grade 3)
  • Bach: Kleine Präludien in D minor, BWV 926
  • Kabalevsky: Sonatina in A minor, op. 27, no. 18

Intermediate Artists (ages 10-12)

  • Haydn: Finale: Presto (3rd mvt) from Sonata in A, Hob. XVI/26 (ABRSM grade 4)
  • Mel Bonis: Meditation, Op. 33, No. 1
  • Mendelssohn: Songs without Words in C major, Op. 102, no. 3

Junior Artists (ages 13-15)

  • Khachaturian: Allegro giocoso (1st mvt) from Sonatina in C (ABRSM grade 7)
  • Chopin: Nocturne in F minor, Op. 55, no. 1
  • Saint-Saëns: Prelude, Op. 72, no. 1

Senior Artists (ages 16-18)

  • Rachmaninoff: Elégie, Op. 3, no. 1 (ABRSM grade 8)
  • Liszt: Transcendental Etude #11, “Harmonies du soir”
  • Glinka/Balakirev: L’Alouette (The Lark)

Piano Four-Hands (age 25 and under)

  • Fauré: Berceuse from Dolly Suite, Op. 56, no. 1
  • Schubert: Polonaise in F major, D599, Op. 75, no. 4
  • Moszkowski: Spanish Dance, Op. 12, no. 5

Open Class (age 25 and under)

The Open Class offers artists the opportunity to compete outside of an age-restricted class. The expected performance level in the Open Class is at or above the ABRSM Diploma level. Parents and teachers are advised to consider whether this class is appropriate for their child/student.

Each participant in the Open Class must submit a video recording of one solo work (not a concerto, and not a test piece from another category) that is under 10 minutes in length by a composer chosen from the following list:

Albéniz, J.S. Bach, Barber, Bartok, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Ginastera, Haydn, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Poulenc, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Schubert, Schumann, Scriabin, Stravinsky, or an original composition (not an arrangement or transcription) by any contemporary composer. A contemporary composer is defined as someone who is living today.

10 minutes is the maximum time allotted, not the goal. Performances lasting longer than 10 minutes will be disqualified.

One or more movements of a suite or sonata are eligible for this class as long as it is within the 10 minute time limit.

If the artist chooses a piece by a contemporary composer, they must include a scanned (PDF) copy of the piece with their application.

Artists enrolled in the Open Class may enter another age-specific class with the requisite application fee for each class.

Memorization and Repeats

  • A solo artist’s chosen piece must be memorized and performed in its entirety.
  • Competitors in the Four-Hands category need not memorize their chosen piece.
  • All repeats indicated in the score are optional.


Each artist must upload an unedited, high-definition (HD) video of their performance to Vimeo or YouTube and provide the URL link with their application.

Each artist must also upload their video file to our secure Dropbox link that is provided in the application.

If you are unable to access Vimeo, YouTube, or Dropbox, please contact us at pianocompetition@princetonfestival.org

The video must adhere to the following parameters:

  • The video quality should be at least 720p, preferably  1080p or higher.
  • The artist’s face and hands must be clearly visible throughout the recording. If possible, please include your feet in the frame as well.
  • Recordings made on acoustic pianos are preferred, but we accept recordings made on digital pianos as well. The important thing is to use an instrument that will properly express your tone, dynamics, and technique.
  • The video recording must have been made within 4 months of the submission of the application.
  • The video must be recorded in one unedited take. Any evidence of multiple takes, or of audio that does not match the performance, will result in disqualification.
  • Do not include titles, fade-outs, or video transitions.
  • Please note that the adjudicators are primarily evaluating each artist’s performance, technique, and interpretation. The audio/video quality is of secondary importance.
  • The video recording file must be labeled accordingly:
    • Last Name, First Name. City, (State), Country – Competition Category
    • Example: Smith, John. Los Angeles, CA, USA – Open Class
  • Once a video is submitted, no substitutions will be allowed.

How to Upload Your Video

Please upload your video using the following instructions. You may use either Vimeo or YouTube to upload, but since Vimeo only allows paid accounts to access privacy settings, YouTube is preferred.


  1. Log into YouTube or create a free account.
  2. Click the camera+ icon in the top-right corner to upload a new video.
  3. Title your video using the following format: “Last Name, First Name. City, (State), Country – Competition Category”. Example: Smith, John. Los Angeles, CA, USA – Open Class
  4. You may leave the description blank or put “For The Princeton Festival’s 2020 Piano Competition.”
  5. Under the section “Is this video made for kids?” select “No, it’s not made for kids.”
  6. Click “Next” to go to Video Elements and then click “Next” again to go to Visibility.
  7. Click “Unlisted” under the Visibility section and copy the link for your video to include in your application.
  8. Click “Save”. Your video may take a while to process if it is a large, high-definition file.


  1. Log into Vimeo and click the box marked “+New video” in the upper right corner. (If you do not have an account, create one. “Basic” accounts are free.) Choose “upload” from the drop-down menu.
  2. If you have a paid Vimeo account, then click on the white “Privacy” button under the blue upload button. Choose “Only people with the private link” from the menu.
  3. Upload your labeled video file using the following format:
    “Last Name, First Name. City, (State), Country – Competition Category”
    Example: Smith, John. Los Angeles, CA, USA – Open Class
  4. Click the blue “save” button at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Click on the gray box marked “Share” in the upper right corner. Choose “Copy video link” from the drop-down menu.
  6. Paste the link (URL) as directed into the competition application.


  1. The competition will be judged by two professional pianists/teachers appointed by the Artistic Director of The Princeton Festival. The identity of the adjudicators will not be revealed to the applicants prior to the competition.
  2. The adjudicators will only know each artist’s video by an assigned number until the master of ceremonies announces the winners on September 23, 2020.
  3. The adjudicators reserve the right to declare no winner in any category.
  4. The adjudicators’ decisions are final and may not be challenged.


You may go to this link to submit your application.


You will need to have ready:

  • Proof of age (photo of your passport, drivers license, birth certificate, or other form of photo identification).
  • The title of the piece you are performing.
  • Scanned copy of the music – applies ONLY to competitors in the Open Class performing music of a contemporary composer.
  • The URL for your video.
  • A credit card for payment of the application fee.

Credit and Rights

Finalists and category winners who wish to publicize their success in the competition should credit it as The Princeton Festival Piano Competition.

By applying to the competition, you agree to give The Princeton Festival the right to use or distribute your video without remuneration, including publication on local media, social media, digital streaming online, and for marketing purposes.

By applying to the competition, artists agree to abide by the rules and regulations of The Princeton Festival Piano Competition. Artists will be disqualified at any phase of the competition when non-compliance with any part of the rules and regulations occurs or is discovered.


For questions, please write to  pianocompetition@princetonfestival.org.

Thank you for your interest!