The Iturbi Prize was created in 1981 to preserve the memory and legacy of the Valencian pianist José Iturbi, who died on 28 June 1980 in Beverly Hills, California. It is also a platform to support new talent which is breaking through in the competitive world of the piano, just as maestro Iturbi did at the start of his career.
The Valencia Iturbi International Piano Competition is held every two years; after a brief pause, its 21st edition, celebrating its 40th anniversary, was held in 2021. In 2023, it now returns with renewed enthusiasm for its 22nd edition.
This new phase for the Iturbi Competition has been marked, above all, by the incorporation of the eminent Spanish pianist Joaquín Achúcarro as its new Artistic Director in 2019. A new Artistic Committee has also been formed, which under Achúcarro’s direction has designed an updated model for the competition, focusing its attention on the search for aspects which are of the most profound importance in pianistic performance, and in this way redefining the bases and spirit which govern the competition.
The jury of the 22nd Valencia Iturbi International Piano Competition will be comprised of Jorge Luis Prats, Josu de Solaun, Catherine d’Argoubet, Barrett Wissman, Didier Schnorhk, Paolo Pinamonti, Menahem Pressler, Edmon Colomer and Ana Guijarro, with Joaquín Achúcarro as president.
The Orchestra of Valencia is also an important participant in the Iturbi Competition, providing the accompaniment for the piano concertos in Final I and the Grand Final. The Orchestra is the resident of the Palau de la Música in Valencia. It is one of the outstanding orchestras in Spain, with international recognition.
José Iturbi brought the music of contemporary composers from Valencia to the most important venues in the United States (Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, etc.) The Iturbi Prize continues this spirit, and has commissioned works from a number of composers from Valencia to be played at the semi-final. In 2023, a work has been commissioned from the composer Francisco Coll, who has written a piece called Madre (Mother). This original work is a tribute to the most international of painters from Valencia – Joaquín Sorolla – to commemorate the centenary of his death; in this way, linking the Competition to the celebrations of the Sorolla Year.
Over its more than 40 years of history, the members of the Competition’s jury have included such luminaries as Alicia de Larrocha, Alexis Weissenberg, Jenö Jandó, John O’Connor, Pascal Roge, Andrea Lucchesini, Henry Barda, Rosa Sabater, María Tipo, Sulamita Aronovsky, Dimitri Bashkirov, Joaquín Soriano, Joaquín Rodrigo, Joaquín Nin-Culmell and Eduardo López-Chávarri.
The Valencia Iturbi International Piano Competition has hosted competitors from five continents. It established a special link with the countries of the former Eastern Bloc during the final years of the Cold War. Some of these competitors left with first, second or third prizes.
The Competition forms part of the World Federation of International Music Competitions (whose headquarters is Geneva), which includes the most prestigious international music competitions in the world. It is also a member of the Alink-Argerich Foundation, a meeting point for the most prestigious international piano competitions.