Jury Regulations

The International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition is held every two years in the following alternating disciplines: piano, harpsichord and violin/baroque violin; and organ, voice, violoncello/baroque violoncello, respectively.

I. President and Competition Directorate

(1) The competition and master classes are headed by a President. Throughout his or her period of office, the President is responsible for the artistic quality of the competition and the master classes. The President nominates the members of the competition juries and coordinates the competition repertoire. The President is nominated by the Rectorate of the University of Music and Theatre „Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy“ Leipzig (Hochschule für Musik und Theater) and the Executive Board of the Leipzig Bach Archive (Bach-Archiv).

(2) The Leipzig Bach Archive Board of Trustees (Stiftungsrat des Bach-Archivs) appoints the President in accordance with the Foundation's Charter. The President is appointed for a period of minimum five years and maximum nine years. The President may be re-appointed one or more times for five years. The period of office begins three years before the competition is held, on July 1st.

(3) The Competition Directorate consists of the President, the Managing Director of the Bach Archive and the Head of the Events’ Department.

(4) It is the duty of the President to explain the contents of these Jury Regulations to the jury members and to ensure that the regulations are complied with. The Competition Directorate is responsible for ensuring that the competition proceeds in conformity with the regulations, especially as regards the work of the jury. The Competition Directorate presides over the calculations of the scores and the deliberations of members of the jury.

(5) The Managing Director of the Leipzig Bach Archive shall act in lieu of the President if the latter is unable to perform her or his duties.


II. Juries and jury sessions

(1) For each of the three disciplines represented in each year the competition takes place, there is a separate jury for which at least seven jury members shall be nominated. The jury consists of active musicians who are internationally experienced artists and Bach specialists in the respective disciplines.

(2) The jury for each competition discipline is headed by a Chair. The Chair is appointed by the President. The Chair is responsible for convening the jury sessions and for ensuring that sessions proceed in accordance with the Jury Regulations. The Chair must maintain close contact with the President of the competition and the Head of the Events’ Department and shall consult with them immediately if any problems arise. A Deputy Chair for each jury is appointed by the President in consultation and agreement with the respective Chair of the jury. The Deputy Chair supports and acts in lieu of the Chair in the event of the latters' absence.

(3) Jury sessions are in particular held after each round of recitals. If necessary, juries may be convened ad hoc.

(4) All jury members are required to listen in full to all the candidates in a round to be eligible to vote in that round.

(5) The Competition Directorate appoints a jury assistant for each competition discipline who is responsible for supporting the work of the Chair and the members of the jury.


III. Participants and recital performances

(1) Applications to participate in the Bach Competition must be received in writing (online, by mail) before each year's entry deadline. The conditions of participation are updated every competition year and published in the application announcement. Each year's conditions of participation form part of the Jury Regulations.

(2) A pre-selection will be made among all competitors. This pre-selection will be made using audio-visual media in the absence of the competitors. The pre-selection will be made by the President and two members of the juries for each discipline (preferably the Chair of the jury in each case). The Competition Directorate specifies the maximum possible number of participants who may take part in each competition discipline before the pre-selection takes place.

(3) Participants will be informed in writing about whether or not they have been selected to take part in the competition within a reasonable period of time after each year's entry deadline.

(4) Participants who have been selected to take part in the competition must bring a valid identity document (with a photograph) and register with this document in the competition office during the registration period. Participants who arrive late for the competition through no fault of their own may, with the consent of the jury, perform at the end of the first round in their discipline. Such participants then retain this position right through to the finals.

(5) Participants perform in alphabetical order. Immediately after registration by the participants, the letter of the alphabet with which the competition will begin is drawn by the Competition Directorate. The resulting order of appearance is thereafter the same throughout all rounds of the competition (1st round, 2nd round, finals). An exception may be made for practical, performance-related reasons (owing, for example, to different tunings for the violin/baroque violin or violoncello/baroque violoncello disciplines).

(6) The participants shall perform their programmes as set out in the competition rules. They may choose the order in which they perform the pieces themselves and may play or omit repeats as they see fit. The jury may interrupt any recitals which exceed the time limit set out in the rules. The programme may be shortened if necessary following consultation between the jury and the Competition Directorate.

(7) All contact between participants and the jury during the participants’ active involvement in the competition is prohibited. A personal exchange regarding the technical and artistic performance of the participant is permitted only after he/she has been eliminated from the competition or has won a prize. Even then a discussion regarding procedural matters relating to the competition (in particular, voting behaviour) remains forbidden.

(8) All performances in front of the jury are public.


IV. Voting

(1) Principles

i. Votes are cast confidentially and in person. Votes are cast using pre-prepared voting slips. These voting slips must be signed by the jury members in person.

ii. All jury members must reach their decision in accordance with the regulations

  • to the best of their knowledge and belief,
  • regardless of any knowledge they may have of competitors’ personal details, such as their age, teacher or artistic successes to date,
  • independently and on their own without consulting with other members of the jury, with persons not on the jury, with persons participating in the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition or any other external third parties.

Jury members shall treat all matters concerning the process of reaching decisions and actual voting with confidentiality. This duty to maintain confidentiality shall apply both within and outside the jury, with regard to all those participating in the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition and to external third parties.
During the competition jury members may not communicate with competitors until such competitors have been eliminated from the competition or have won a prize.

iii. Jury members shall inform the jury Chair and the Competition Directorate during the first jury session prior to commencement of the first round of the competition about any participants who are their pupils (regular lessons in the previous four years) or who have any connection with them whatsoever, such as family ties. Participation in master classes does not count. Jury members enter their vote for such a participant in the place provided on the voting slip.

iv. Twelve participants shall be admitted to the second round in each discipline, except voice, where 16 participants shall be admitted. Six participants shall be admitted to the finals in each discipline.

v. To determine which participants advance to the next round, the Jury members shall vote only for the participants whom they wish to hear in the next round: twelve (in the case of voice, sixteen) for the 2nd round and six for the finals. Votes are cast by entering the name and number of the relevant participant on the voting slip. All jury members are obligated to nominate the precise number of participants specified in these regulations – neither more nor less. Participants are not weighted according to the order of entries made. Every jury member must sign her or his voting slip.

vi. As well as voting for specific participants, every jury member also awards „Bach marks“. Bach marks are given for scores between 1 (lowest mark) and 6 (highest mark). Bach marks are awarded afresh in each round. Bach marks are only given for performances of works by Johann Sebastian Bach. All jury members sign their score sheets for all competitors.


(2) Counting of votes

i. The vote counting procedure is strictly confidential. Votes are counted by a member of the competition staff under the supervision of at least one member of the Competition Directorate. The President verifies that the proper procedure has been respected and this is then attested by his signature and that of the Head of the Event’s Department.

ii. The votes cast for each participant are counted. The total number of votes cast for each candidate is calculated as a percentage in relation to the number of jury members. Jury members who vote for their own students are deducted from the absolute number of judges and their votes do not count for those candidates.

iii. If a tie results in more participants than foreseen qualifying for the following round, the Bach marks will be used to break the tie. The Bach score for a round is calculated as an average of the Bach marks awarded to the participant in that round. The Bach marks awarded to a participant in each round are averaged to produce a Bach score which is used  as necessary to determine the winner in the final round.

iv. In exceptional circumstances, if voting and the Bach score fail to produce an unequivocal result, it is possible for 13 participants (in the case of voice, seventeen) may be admitted to the second round.

v. In the event of multiple ties in voting and the Bach scoring resulting in more than 13 participants (for voice more than 17 participants) qualifying for the second round or more than six participants qualifying for the finals, the statistical standard deviation of the Bach score is used as an additional decision criterion. The participant with the lowest standard deviation (i. e., the most consistent score that is closest to the Bach marks of all jurors) will be selected. The outcome of the voting is ratified by the President and the Head of the Event’s Department.

vi. Once the results have been calculated, the results are communicated to the Chair of the jury who ratifies the results with her or his signature.

vii. The Chair of the jury then announces the verified results to the members, giving the names of the successful candidates in the order in which they performed. In order to maintain the jury’s neutrality neither the number of votes cast for each participant nor their position on the list is communicated to the jury members or the jury Chair. This is to prevent members of the jury being influenced in their subsequent evaluation by the order of the voting results, the question as to whether Bach scores were used or not, or any other information.

viii. The jury Chair publicly announces the final result after reach round. The names of the successful participants are published in the order in which they performed.

ix. After each round, participants who will not continue in the competition have the option of discussing their performances with the judges selected for this purpose by the jury Chair, either immediately after the announcement of the results or on the next day. The venue and time of such discussions are announced by the competition office.


(3) Awards of Bach prizes

i. All the prizes shall be awarded in all disciplines. Dual prizes are not awarded and prize amounts cannot be divided up. The following prizes will be awarded
1st prize:              € 10,000

2nd prize:             €   7,500

3rd prize:              €   5,000


ii. The jury also decides on the winners of special prizes. Prize sponsors must submit the type of prize and award criteria to the Competition Directorate before the start of the competition.

iii. Voting on the award of prizes in the finals is based on overall artistic performance in all rounds of the competition.

iv. At the end of the final round the jury will vote on the awarding of the first prize. Votes are cast using prepared voting slips. Each jury member signs his own voting slip. Voting is subject to the teacher/student rule (cf. IV section 2 No. ii). A simply majority (expressed as a percentage) determines the result. In the case of a tie between several participants, the Bach score determines the final decision (cf. IV section 2 No. iii); if the Bach scoring also results in a tie, the statistical standard deviation of the Bach score is used as an additional decision criterion. The results are announced to the jury.

v. Once the winner of the first prize has been determined votes are cast for second prize. Votes are cast using prepared voting slips. Each jury member signs his own voting slip. Voting is subject to the teacher/student rule (cf. IV section 2 No. ii). A simply majority (expressed as a percentage) determines the result.  In the case of a tie, the Bach score (cf. IV section 2 No. iii), and where necessary the standard deviation of the Bach score, is again used as an additional decision criterion. The results are announced to the jury.

vi. The third prize as well as the fourth and fifth place have to be determined following the rules laid out in iv. and v. The sixth place is awarded automatically. A separate vote is not held.

vii. The President, one further member of the Competition Directorate and the Chair of the jury add their legally binding signatures to confirm the scores. The results of the competition are publicly announced after the scoring procedure by the Chair.

viii. The final session of the jury not only decides on the prize awards but also on the programme for the prize winners' concert and the award of special prizes.

ix. The winners of the special prizes are announced at the awards ceremony itself. Concert engagements are negotiated by the respective organisers.


V. Legal provisions

(1) The International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition is organised by the Leipzig Bach Archive (Bach-Archiv Leipzig, Stiftung bürgerlichen Rechts) and the Conservatory of Music and Theatre „Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy“ Leipzig (Hochschule für Musik und Theater „Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy“ Leipzig). Responsibility for personnel and finances, liability and responsibility within the meaning of German press law are held by the Leipzig Bach Archive. Supervisory responsibilities are exercised by the Leipzig Bach Archive Board of Trustees.

(2) Recourse to a court of law with regard to any phase of the competition, from application through to the awarding of prizes, is excluded.

(3) Participants transfer all proprietary exploitation rights in perpetuity and with no geographical restrictions to their performances at the Johann Sebastian Bach Competition and to images of them playing in all rounds and during the prize winners' concert to the Leipzig Bach Archive.

(4) The International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition, its President, the Competition Directorate, Chairs and members of the juries as well as all the competition staff shall be indemnified against all liability which may arise from errors made in voting or scoring. The result determined by the President shall continue to be valid even if a voting or scoring error is subsequently discovered.

(5) The Jury Regulations have been approved by the Executive Board of the Leipzig Bach Archive and the President of the Bach Competition.

(6) The latest version of the appendices to the Jury Regulations for the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition form part of these Jury Regulations. The appendices will be adjusted by the Competition Directorate:

  • Appendix 1: Specifics for the year
  • Appendix 2: Conditions of participation (Competition rules)
  • Appendix 3: Overview of special prizes and award regulations (available before the competition begins)


(7) If any provision is unclear or breaches applicable law, this shall not affect the validity of the remaining Jury Regulations. The relevant provision shall be replaced by one which corresponds more closely to the intention of the invalid provision.

(8) The Jury Regulations shall come into effect upon their signature by the President of the Bach Competition and the Director of the Leipzig Bach Archive. Changes to this agreement must be made in writing to be effective.

(9) The German text is legally binding.