Competition Rules 2020

The XXIInd International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition 2020 will be held in the following disciplines: Organ, Voice, Violoncello/Baroque violoncello. The Competition is open to the public. The Competition will be held in Leipzig from July 13 to 25, 2020.


The International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition expects participants to meet very high standards. They should have a confident stage manner and be experienced at performing in the historical style required in the Competition programme. It is expected that candidates use urtext editions. A great number of manuscripts of Bach’s works can be found at


The Competition is open to soloists of any nationality who are at least 16 years old and who accept the Competition Rules. The participants must have been born after July 25, 1987.


The application must be submitted by February 25, 2020 (date of postmark on the letter and date of e-mail).


a) The application consists of the following:
› A video containing the required pre-selection programme
› Form stating the acceptance of the Competition rules
› A passport photograph
› Application form
› Programme form
› A scan of a birth certificate, passport or ID card
› For degree holders: proof of musical training (diploma etc.)
› For students: a letter from a teacher recommending participation in the Competition
› A portrait (9 x 13 cm/3.5” by 4.75” at least 300 dpi)
› Artistic curriculum vitae


b) How to send the required materials
by post: form stating the acceptance of the Competition rules, passport photograph
by e-mail to application form, programme form, birth certificate, passport or ID card (scan), proof of musical training or letter from a teacher, portrait, artistic curriculum vitae (all file names name must include the name of the candidate)
by file transfer (WeTransfer or Filemail): video with the pre-selection programme (the file name must include the name of the candidate)


All forms can be found at


Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Once applications have been verified, they shall be passed on to the selection jury.


The number of participants is limited to a maximum of 50 in each discipline. The selection jury for the individual disciplines shall choose entrants to participate in the Competition on the basis of the submitted videos. Recording should be done in appropriate venues; these do not include empty churches (Voice or Violoncello) or living rooms, but e. g. in halls/ studios at the conservatory/university. High sound quality is expected. Successful entrants shall be notified in writing by the Competition office by April 20, 2020. Applicants shall be entitled to participate in the Competition once they have received this notice and remitted their application fee.


The application fee is Euro 100. The application fee is to be remitted free of all charges for the recipient by May 22, 2020 to the following bank account.


Bach-Archiv Leipzig
Bank: Sparkasse Leipzig
IBAN: DE39 8605 5592 1100 9010 07
Purpose of payment: Bach Competition + Name of participant


The remittance slip must include the name of the participant written legibly (especially if the registration fee is transferred by somebody else). The payment confirmation slip is to be presented by the candidate at the Competition office on arrival. Payment may also be made by credit card (Visa, American Express, JCB or MasterCard) supplying the card number and its expiry date. Please note that the application fee will not be refunded in the event that a participant withdraws from the Competition.


Participants must organize and pay for all travel to and from the Competition as well as board and accommodation in Leipzig themselves. Participants who reach the second round shall be granted an allowance of Euro 25 per day until the end of the Competition. This allowance shall not be paid to participants who live or study in or near Leipzig (up to 50 km away).


Participants in the disciplines Voice and Violoncello/Baroque violoncello are encouraged to bring their own accompanists (keyboard instruments only) with them at their own expense. The name(s) of the accompanist(s) must be included on the entry form. Chamber ensembles are not allowed.
If necessary, the Competition office can provide one or more accompanists for a flat fee of Euro 25 per round. This fee must be paid in cash before each round in Leipzig. Registrants for the discipline organ and the soprano and the continuo cellist in the discipline Violoncello/Baroque violoncello will be supplied at no charge to the participants. The Competition shall provide participants with practice rooms at no charge.


In the discipline Violoncello/Baroque violoncello, it is obligatory to use a floor protector. The Competition will provide a cello board.


The Organizer shall be entitled to make audio and video recordings of all the performances and other events during the Competition and to use them in connection therewith, e. g. publish photographs of participants. MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk/Central German Broadcasting Corporation) shall record all performances and other events wholly or in part and shall broadcast them live and/or later (in radio and internet) and/or pass these recordings on to other broadcasters.
Competition participants shall not be entitled to claim any remuneration for these recordings. The prizewinners undertake to perform in the prizewinners’ concert and to allow the recording thereof to be published for non-commercial purpose without a fee.


On arrival, Competition participants must report in person for registration. The Competition office will be in
Bach-Archiv Leipzig
Thomaskirchhof 15/16, 04109 Leipzig
The Competition consists of the first round, the second round and the finals. Participants shall appear in alphabetical order based on the first letter of their surname. The Competition management shall determine by means of a drawing at what point in the alphabet the Competition will start. The order of appearance decided shall apply to all rounds of the Competition. Every prizewinner and finalist must be present at the awards ceremony on Saturday, July 25, 2020, in order to personally receive his or her award.


12. Competition timetable


Participant’s registration // Bach-Archiv
Organ, Voice // Mon, July 13, 2020 // 2.00 pm–6.00 pm
Cello // Tue, July 14, 2020 // 2.00 pm–6.00 pm

Announcement of the order of appearance
Organ // Mon, July 13, 2020 // 9.00 pm
Voice // Tue, July 14, 2020 // 8.30 am
Cello // Tue, July 14, 2020 // 9.00 pm

Rehearsals with accompanists and hall rehearsals
Organ, Voice // from Tue, July 14, 2020
Cello // from Wed, July 15, 2020

Opening concert // Evangelisch Reformierte Kirche
Wed, July 15, 2020 // 8.00 pm

1st round
Thu, July 16, 2020, until Sat, July 18, 2020

Rehearsal day for the 2nd round
Sun, July 19, 2020

2nd round
Mon, July 20, 2020, and Tue, July 21, 2020

Rehearsal days for the finals
Wed, July 22, 2020, and Thu, July 23, 2020

Fri, July 24, 2020

Presentation of prizes // Alte Börse
Sat, July 25, 2020 // 3.00 pm

Prizewinners’ concert // Thomaskirche
Sat, July 25, 2020 // 8.00 pm


13. Prizes

1st Prize: € 10,000
2nd Prize: € 7,500
3rd Prize: € 5,000

The prizewinners are entitled to use the title »Bachpreisträger« (Bach Prizewinner).
The jury shall decide on the award of grants, special prizes and concert engagements for prizewinners and finalists. The decisions will be announced during the presentation of prizes. All participants will receive a diploma documenting their achievement.
Concert engagements have been offered by the Leipzig Bach Festival and the Leipzig Bach-Museum. Further concert venues will announce their interest before the Bach Competition. The Bach-Marschall Foundation offers grants for East European candidates. GENUIN classics (CD label) presents as a special prize the production of a CD with one of the prizewinners; Bärenreiter-Verlag presents Urtext prizes in all disciplines. In the discipline Voice, a special prize, sponsored by Lisa Larsson, will be awarded for the best expressive declamation of a recitative (textual understanding and declamation).


The Competition results in each discipline shall be decided by the jury. The jury’s decision is always final. Legal recourse is excluded. The jury shall assess participants on the basis of the jury regulations which will be published on Jurors may not take part in the assessment of their own pupils. Assessment shall be carried out confidentially. After each round, jurors shall be available to talk to competitors who are not continuing to the next round as well as after the prizes have been announced. Competitors continuing to the next round are forbidden from talking with jury members.


Regarding data privacy information, see: After the end of the Competition, the application data will be deleted.


The German text of the printed brochure is legally binding.