2021 Piano Competition – Rules and Repertoire

Welcome to the 15th Annual Princeton Festival Piano Competition!

This year, our competition will once again be held in a digital format, open to pianists from around the world. Pianists ages 6 and older are invited to apply, and we have a brand new Open Class this year for pianists ages 26 and older! We will also be providing extensive adjudicator feedback to each applicant, regardless of age or category.

Applications for our 2021 competition are now closed.

This international competition features hundreds of pianists each year in a variety of categories. If you are interested in applying for yourself, child, or student, please read the rules for 2021 carefully.

General Rules Repertoire Video Requirements



The 2021 Princeton Festival Piano Competition is a virtual event. Each artist must submit a single, unedited video recording of their performance for their respective competition category no later than April 19, 2021 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 Sunday, June 6, 2021 (time TBD). Access to the video will be provided to the contestant for each email address on their application, including parents and teachers. The winners of the competition will be announced at the end of the concert on June 6, 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Class II (age 26 and up): $1,000 and Electronic Certificate

Richard Tang Yuk Award (best performer in the competition): Electronic 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 Classes, 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 April 19, 2021 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 June 6, 2021. 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)

  • Amy Beach: Minuet, op. 36, no. 1
  • George Frideric Handel: Gavotte in G, HWV 491 (ABRSM Grade 3)
  • Sergei Prokofiev: March, op. 65, no. 10

Intermediate Artists (ages 10-12)

  • Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude in C major, BWV 943
  • Béla Bartók: For Children, Volume 2, no. 18: Teasing Song (ABRSM Grade 4)
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle in A minor, op. 119, no. 9

Junior Artists (ages 13-15)

  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Sonata in F minor, Wq. 63, no. 6 (1st movement) (ABRSM Grade 7)
  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Valse Suite, op. 71; iii. Allegro moderato
  • Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel: Song without Words, op. 8, no. 3

Senior Artists (ages 16-18)

  • Margaret Bonds: Troubled Water
  • Frédéric Chopin: Nocturne in C-sharp minor, op. 27, no. 1
  • Clara Schumann: Prelude and Fugue no. 2 in B-flat major from Three Preludes and Fugues, op. 16 (ABRSM Grade 8)

Piano Four-Hands (age 25 and under)

  • Georges Bizet: Les Chevaux de Bois from Jeux d’enfants
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sonata in C major, K. 521 (1st movement)
  • Franz Schubert: Polonaise in D minor, D. 599, no. 1

Open Class (all ages)

Our two Open Class categories offer pianists the opportunity to compete alongside a wider range of applicants with greater choice in repertoire.

Emerging Open Class (25 and under): Performance level for this category is typically at or above the ABRSM Diploma level. Parents and teachers are advised to consider whether this class is appropriate for their child/student.

Experienced Open Class (26 and over): The Princeton Festival is excited to introduce this additional category for the 2021 competition. Any pianist 26 years or older is welcome to apply, whether professional or lifelong amateur.

Each participant in either Open Class category 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:

Isaac Albéniz, J.S. Bach, Béla Bartók, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Cécile Chaminade, Carlos Chávez, Frédéric Chopin, Claude Debussy, R. Nathaniel Dett, Alberto Ginastera, György Ligeti, Franz Liszt, Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Florence Price, Sergei Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Maurice Ravel, Franz Schubert, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, William Grant Still, Tōru Takemitsu, Heitor Villa-Lobos, or an original composition by any contemporary composer. A contemporary composer is defined as someone who is living as of January 1, 2021. 

Arrangements and transcriptions are ineligible for this class.

10 minutes is the maximum time allotted, not the goal. Your video may be longer than 10 minutes including time before or after your performance, but any video with a performance 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.

All Open Class contestants must include a scanned (PDF) copy of the piece with their application.

Artists enrolled in the Open Classes may also enter their eligible 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 YouTube or Vimeo 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.
    • 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 must have been made within 4 months of the submission of the application. Professional performances, including concerts, recitals, or other events outside a home or studio, are ineligible for submission.
  • 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 do not introduce yourself in your video.
  • 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 YouTube or Vimeo, but note that you must have a paid Vimeo account in order to make your video private there.


  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 – Intermediate Class
  4. You may leave the description blank or put “For The Princeton Festival’s 2021 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.

The Princeton Festival uses your YouTube/Vimeo upload to validate your form submission and match your Dropbox upload to your application details. The adjudicators will then review your performances in an anonymous, offline format.



  1. The competition will be judged by three professional pianists/teachers appointed by the Acting 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 June 6, 2021.
  3. The Princeton Festival will send the adjudicators’ comments to the email address on file for the contestant no later than June 30, 2021.
  4. The adjudicators reserve the right to declare no winner in any category.
  5. The adjudicators’ decisions are final and may not be challenged.



Use 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!