Royal Patronage
In 1965, following the death of Queen Elisabeth, Queen Fabiola took on the role of Patron of the Competition while also serveing as Honorary President until her death in 2013. Subsequently, Her Majesty Queen Mathilde agreed to be Patron of the Competition maintaining a longstanding tradition within the Royal Family.

Queen Elisabeth and Eugène Ysaÿe

Queen Elisabeth was passionate about the arts and was herself a talented artist, producing impressive drawings and sculptures. She also played the violin and was not intimidated by playing with the great musicians of her time. In 1900, the Queen met the Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe, then at the height of his career. Together, they conceived the idea to found an international violin competition. It was in 1937, some years after Eugène Ysaÿe’s death, that the first Eugène Ysaÿe Competition for young violinists took place. It was followed, in 1938, by a competition for pianists.

1951: a new start

In 1951, Marcel Cuvelier, director of the Brussels Philharmonic Society, persuaded Queen Elisabeth to lend her name to the competition, which it had not been possible to continue during the war years. The first edition took place in the spring of 1951, organised along the same lines as the Ysaÿe Competition.

Queen Fabiola

Queen Elisabeth not only lent her name to the Competition, but also became its Honorary President. Queen Fabiola maintained this tradition after Queen Elisabeth’s death and enthusiastically shouldered that burden for nearly 50 years (from 1965 to 2013). Together with Count Jean-Pierre de Launoit, President of the Competition from 1978 to 2014, she steered the Competition into the modern era.

Her Majesty Queen Mathilde

Following her marriage to H.M. King Philippe in 1999, Queen Mathilde regularly accompanied Queen Fabiola at Competition performances. She picked up the torch after Queen Fabiola’s death in 2013. Faithful to the tradition established by Queen Elisabeth and Queen Fabiola, Queen Mathilde has attended many performances at Flagey since taking on the Honorary Presidency of the Competition and has been present at most final evenings, often accompanied by one or more other members of the Royal Family.
Every year, the King and Queen receive the members of the jury at a lunch in the Royal Palace. Following the announcement of the results at the Centre for Fine Arts (Palais des Beaux-Arts) on the last evening of the final, the Queen meets the 12 laureates for a brief conversation and the traditional photo session. A second encounter with the laureates takes place at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel during the official prize-giving ceremony. The Queen personally presents the "International Queen Elisabeth Grand Prize", ‘Queen Mathilde’ Prize, worth €25,000, to the first laureate.

"Classical music unites us all, in its infinite variety, regardless of our age or culture. Indeed, the power of music leaves no one unmoved and creates unforgettable memories. Every year, the International Queen Elisabeth Competition brings together exceptional young musical talents from all over the world. The competition gives them the chance to show their extraordinary passion and dedication, to exceed their own expectations, and to continue to develop as musicians and as people."

H.M. Queen Mathilde
Relive the performances of Violin 2024
The Competition's CD's
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