The juries of the 2019 Carl Nielsen International Competition led by Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider (violin), Paul Meyer (clarinet) and Karl-Heinz Schütz (flute) have announced the winners of this year’s competition at a prize ceremony in the Danish composer’s hometown of Odense.


Violin: Johan Dalene (18, Sweden)

Clarinet: Blaz Sparovec (24, Slovenia)

Flute: Joséphine Olech (24, France)

Each first prize winner receives 12.000 euros, a solo recording with the Odense Symphony Orchestra for international release on Orchid Classics and the chance to perform with up to 10 orchestras. Presenters so far confirmed are the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Orchestra Filharmonica di Torino, Oslo Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Radio Orchestra, Magdeburgische Philharmonie, Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, Aarhus Symphony, Copenhagen Phil and competition host the Odense Symphony Orchestra.


Violin: Marie-Astrid Hulot (21, France)

Clarinet: Aron Chiesa (22, Italy)

Flute: Marianna Julia Żołnacz (19, Poland)

each receives 10.000 euros


Violin: Anna Agafia Egholm (22, Denmark)

Clarinet: Víctor Díaz Guerra (22, Spain)

Flute: Rafael Adobas Bayog (21, Spain)

each receives 8.000 euros

Prize for Best Interpretation

The Prize for Best Interpretation (2.000 euros each) of a new piece commissioned for each competition was awarded to Anna Agafia Egholm for her performance of Sally Beamish’s Prealudium and Allegro for Solo Violin; Ann Lepage for her performance of Tobias Broström’s La noche oscura (The Dark Night) for solo clarinet and Rafael Adobas Bayog for his performance of Thomas Larcher, deep red, deep blue for flute and piano.

Odense Symphony Orchestra Prize

The Odense Symphony Orchestra Prize (1.500 euros each) - chosen by members of both the Odense Symphony Orchestra and Copenhagen Phil - was awarded to Johan Dalene (violin), Blaz Sparovec (clarinet) and Joséphine Olech (flute).

Junior Jury Prize

The Junior Jury Prize (1.500 euros each) - chosen by a jury of young people aged between 14 and 20 who all play violin, clarinet or flute themselves – was awarded to Anna Agafia Egholm (violin), Blaz Sparovec (clarinet) and Joséphine Olech (flute).

This year marked a new stage in the Carl Nielsen Competition’s history. By presenting all three competitions alongside each other, there has been a festival like atmosphere celebrated not only in Odense but throughout the world where audiences have been following the livestream on the world's leading classical music channel, Over 700 000 videos have been viewed during the 10 days by audiences coming from 154 countries and over 5750 cities. Thanks to a dedicated competition website the online coverage has also included updates, blogs, behind-the-scene videos and replays of each round of the competition, all of which continues to be available on for a further three years.

Announcing the 2019 winners Competition President and Head of the Violin jury, Nikolaj-Szeps Znaider, commented: "We are delighted to have with us tonight three First Prize Winners who are, without doubt, talents of tomorrow. On behalf of all my fellow jury members I would like to congratulate Johan Dalene, Blaz Sparovec and Joséphine Olech. We look forward to following each of them as they continue their respective musical journeys and to supporting them in the coming years. This year’s competition welcomed talented young musicians from 26 countries to Odense and the level of the competitors far exceeded our expectations. I think it goes without saying that we were looking for – and found – three winners who are ready to embark on top international careers but our search goes beyond that. Our aim is to nurture the next generation of young musicians by offering them an important platform to further their careers and an atmosphere of genuine support and warmth, which I hope we have created over the last ten days here in Odense."

Paul Meyer, Head of the Clarinet jury, commented: "What has been special about this competition is the spirit in which each jury member has felt the same passion for encouraging the young musicians to find their own voice and individuality. Most important is to be convinced that what we do is essential in helping the next generation. These are the corner stones of musical life which are also true to the spirit of Carl Nielsen."

Karl-Heinz Schütz, Head of the Flute jury and himself a previous winner of the Carl Nielsen Competition, commented: "This competition has always been different from other big competitions, because the composer Carl Nielsen’s music stands at its core. We wanted to take the Nielsen Challenge to the heart of the flute competition and asked the second round participants to create their own “new” piece for solo flute - inventing a musical collage entitled “Playing around Nielsen” which drew musical quotes from a cross spectrum of the flute repertoire. Our wish was to awaken the contestants' curiosity in the hope that they would find their own personal and creative approach to music making and, to our surprise, many of the participants surpassed our expectations by far!"


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