Results of 75. Prague Spring Competition in French horn and violin

The 75th anniversary edition of the prestigious international music competition Prague Spring, which this year focused on the french horn and violin, has come to its closure. The competition, which ran from 7 to 14 May, attracted 90 young musicians from 21 countries who competed for prestigious prizes and the opportunity to perform at the Prague Spring Festival 2025.

The Prague Spring Competition was founded in 1946 and has since become one of the most important musical events of its kind in the world. Each year it attracts hundreds of young musicians seeking recognition and the opportunity to showcase their art to an international jury and audience. The competition disciplines rotate each year, which is unique even internationally and ensures a diverse and broad spectrum of musical disciplines.

This year’s edition also featured two new compositions that were specially commissioned for the occasion. These works, by Miroslav Srnka (Apprivoise-moi for violin) and Three Prague Pictures for French horn by Kryštof Marek, brought an additional challenge to the competition and also focused the competitors’ attention on contemporary Czech repertoire.

The juries, composed of the world’s leading musicians and teachers, evaluated the performances of the competitors in the fields of french horn and violin. The french horn jury was headed by André Cazalet from France. Other jurors this year were Luca Benucci from Italy, Jörg Brückner from Germany, Jindřich Petráš from the Czech Republic, Zuzana Rzounková from the Czech Republic, Will Sanders from the Netherlands and Szabolcs Zempléni from Hungary. The violinists were evaluated by a jury headed by Ida Kavafian from the USA. She was joined by Hana Kotková from the Czech Republic and Switzerland, Sergej Krylov from Italy, Daniel Phillips from the USA, Liviu Prunaru from Romania and Belgium, Soyoung Yoon from the Republic of Korea and Josef Špaček. The contestants went through three rounds, where they performed in both compulsory and optional pieces. The whole competition culminated with the final performances on 13 and 14 May.

In the french horn finale, the audience heard the Concerto for french horn and Strings Op. 65 by Othmar Schoeck and Morceau de Concert Op. 94 by Camille Saint-Saëns accompanied by the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Chuhei Iwasaki three times.

The judges evaluated three excellent performances and, after a thorough judging process, determined the following order:

cena – Zhicheng Jin, China 
cena – Nicolas Ramez, France
cena – Felipe Santos Freitas da Silva, Brasil

During the second final evening – in the violin category – the Dvořák Hall of Prague’s Rudolfinum was the venue for the performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Concerto in D major, Op. 61, Johannes Brahms’ Concerto in D major, Op. 77, and Jean Sibelius’ Concerto in D minor, Op. 47. The concerts were performed in cooperation with the Prague Philharmonia under the direction of conductor Marek Šedivý. Each competitor concluded their performance with an encore of their choice lasting 4 minutes.

The finalists gave great performances and the jury had a difficult task, but in the end they decided that they are the laureates of the Prague Spring 2024 competition:

1. cena – Tsukushi Sasaki, Japan
2. cena – Jan Novák, Czech Republic 
3. cena – Marie-Astrid Hulot, France 

The first prize winners will not only receive a financial reward, but also the opportunity to perform at next year’s Prague Spring Festival. New this year for both disciplines was the audience prize, which was awarded to Zhicheng Jin from China for his performance on the French horn and, unsurprisingly, to Jan Novák from the Czech Republic in the violin category.

Next year’s competition will focus on cello and oboe. This year’s event is also expected to attract top young musicians who will compete for recognition and prestige.

The Prague Spring Festival continues to support young talents and contributes to the development of music culture not only in the Czech Republic but also internationally. We would like to thank all the participants, juries and organizers for their efforts and we look forward to the next edition full of musical discoveries.