Musical memory


The Szymanowski Competition performing categories: Piano, Violin, String quartet, and Voice, have been opened. The repertoire is available here. In compliance with the rules, the artists perform pieces from memory. We do know that this leaves some terrified, which is why we would like to offer a few pieces of advice for developing your musical memory.

Before we move on to the subject matter, remember to make sure that, before beginning your practice, you are well-rested and hydrated, and that your room has been well-ventilated. Otherwise, you will quickly lose focus and become tired and annoyed.

A common cause of problems with musical memory is that musicians focus entirely on the musical notation, this rendering them unable to actually hear the melody.

Begin your practice with listening to the pieces while following the notes simultaneously.

Replay the piece several times. Eventually, you will not need the notes any more.

Will you now try to perform the piece from memory? If you do not succeed at the first attempt, do not give up. Practice makes perfect.

Another exercise is to play the same melody in all keys. It will fail no one. Finally, everyone will remember the piece to be played. Don’t be afraid, try to repeat a melody you’ve heard at a concert or in an ad. This exercise is amazing for developing your memory, imagination, and improvisation skills.

Do you want a warranty of success? Additionally, take care of:

• setting a goal - choose the pieces you find the most interesting among all those in the competition material

• motivation - think about the 25,000 euros you can win coming first in the Szymanowski Competition

• visualising the goal as achieved - we don’t know how well you can do it yourself, but as for us, we can imagine you at the NOSPR stage during the awards ceremony perfectly well

• organising your work - make a schedule of when you’re going to practise and stick to it

Last but not least, do not forget about a positive attitude. You’ll make it!

You have time to apply for the Competition until 31st January 2023.

The application form is available here.

The moment so many of us have been awaiting has arrived. The performing competition is now open!


Repertoire:  Piano, Violin, String quartet, Voice

Entries: 1 November 2022 to 31 January 2023

Prizes: 300 000 EUR

Final concerts: NOSPR concert hall, September 2023

Take part!

The list of qualifying committee and jury members will be available by the 15th of November.

It is your chance to meet the legends of the international music arena and bring your career to a new level.

What will you spend your prize on?

The winners of the 2nd Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition in the Composition category are:


I. Pablo Borrás (Argentina) - €3000

II. not granted

III. Hyunsu Kim (Republic of Korea) - €1000


I. Amer Ali (Syrian Arab Republic) - €3000

II. Jinwook Jung (Republic of Korea) - €2000

III. Manolis Ekmektsoglou (Greece) - €1000


I. Noemi Conti (Italy) - €3000

II. Alejandro Mata (Mexico) - €2000

III. Krystian Neścior (Poland) - 1000 €

String quartet:

I. Maria Vincenza Cabizza (Italy) - €4000

II. Hed Bahack (Israel) - €3000

III. Hyunsu Kim (Republic of Korea) - €2000

In addition, the Competition Director and Jury nominate 6 distinctions with financial prizes:


Bartosz Witkowski (Poland)

Michał Janocha (Poland)

€300 each

String quartet:

Dario Michelon (Italy)

Andrea Mattevi (Italy)

€400 each


Andrea Nassivera (Italy)

Pasquale Punzo (Italy)

€300 each

It was quite a challenge to choose the best compositions, yet the deliberations were truly inspiring. Sincere congratulations to the winners and a great thank you to all the participants.

The winning pieces are included in the repertoire of the performance competition, which will open tomorrow! We encourage you to participate in the following categories: Piano, Violin, String quartet, and Voice.

We recommend our newsletter and social media profiles to stay up to date and fully celebrate this extraordinary time.

Exactly 140 years ago, the world welcomed one of the greatest artists in history - Karol Szymanowski. It is heart-warming to see his music (and through the music, the composer himself) still alive after this many years, still admired and performed around the world by either the older and the younger generations of musicians. We are delighted that we can celebrate this event with you, with people who share the same values and admire art. There is no better way to celebrate Szymanowski's birthday than participating in the Competition. Very soon we will find out the winners of the Composition. To sweeten this waiting for result time, we have prepared a few options that will help us celebrate today's holiday fully.

  1. NOSPR Symphonic educational concert / Szymanowski – Portrait 140/85 - the Competition Organiser has prepared two educational concerts dedicated to Szymanowski! Szymanowski's works will be performed by two laureates of the 1st edition of the Competition - Sławomira Wilga and Roksana Kwaśnikowska. We can't wait to see them at the NOSPR stage again!
  2. Karol Szymanowski: Piano Works, the newest release of an excellent pianist - Kristian Zimerman. A must-have in the collection of every music lover. 
  3. Karol Szymanowski Music Academy in Katowice, co-organiser of the Competition, invites to a piano Wednesday, in the programme: 4 Mazurkas op. 50, Sonata in C Minor, Op. 8, and Harnasie op. 55 in transcription for two pianos in Joanna Domańska’s development.
  4. „Karol z Atmy – wartość tradycji i wyzwania współczesności” - a concert in Atma, the place where Szymanowski lived and composed, the place he truly loved. In the programme, i.a. Harnasie, the famous ballet of Szymanowski pefromed by duoAccosphere and Airis Quartet.
  5. Karol Radziszewski's "Myths" - in Warsaw you can visit an art exhibition devoted to Szymanowski. Radziszewski illustrated the entire life of the composer, from Tymoshivka, through Szymanowski’s portraits, to his lovers’ pictures. The exhibition ends on the 26th of November.
  6. SzymaNOWski 140 - OperaLight’s project opened with a premiere of Roxana’s Song videoclip, a modern adaptation of Szymanowski’s King Roger which expresses the current world situation. In the later phase of the project, there is a series of concerts fully devoted to Szymanowski’s works. 
  7. Polskie Radio has prepared a series of podcasts in which Zofia Szymanowska, the youngest sister of Karol, tells about their childhood in Tymoshivka (memories by Zofia Szymanowska reads Teresa Budzisz-Krzyżanowska).

Thank you for being with us. It’s wonderful to celebrate this extraordinary month with you. We encourage you to follow the Competition’s events. Very soon we will find out the first winners and move on to the performing competition.

As you know, the entries in the Composition category of the Szymanowski Competition are already being accepted and we'll keep collecting them until 30th September. We are excited to see the works submitted by each and every single one of you, and for those who feel a little dubious or are struggling with composer’s block, we’ve prepared a few tips and tricks that might help you create the masterpiece of your life. Feel free to take notes and share the article with your friends!

  1. Less is more

Young composers often try to use everything they have learnt and put all the coolest effects they have heard in one piece they’re writing. The result can be too much. Try to pick only one technical aspect and one inspiration from one piece of music at a time. Then, move on to another composition and choose another set of techniques you will focus on. Trust us, less really is more. You’d rather master one technique at once than blend them all into one work.

  1. Listen to what you hate

Yes, all musicians listen to music all day long. After all, there are more sounds, artists, musical pieces, and songs that keep us inspired than we can count. But don’t underestimate works that stand opposite to your taste, and listen more. Explore the music genres that you really don’t like. Analyse what it is that makes you dislike them and what would make them better. Then, all you need to do is to turn something you hate into something you will love. Combining this and the previous point will help you define your own unique style. 

3. A little bit of stealing never hurt nobody

They say that a good composer borrows, while a great composer steals. This is as true as off it sounds. That’s how great artists used to learn their craft ages ago, and how it still works. Choose a few works that you admire, analyse them deeply and critically, and think of what makes them so good, and what you would change. Write down every thought that occurs to you, and then, basing on these notes… Try to write your own work!

  1. Every day is a good day to compose

Practice takes time, so why don’t you compose a small piece every day? Look for inspiration in everything you hear, or try to create a little background melody to a scene you saw while walking with your dog… Inspiration can be found anywhere. Every day is a good day to try out a new technique… So, give everything a try and keep composing. Do we have any plan freaks or daily routine fans? Great, because planning a few things here or there might be helpful! You might want to:

  • Choose a time in the day when you compose those little works, it might be morning or night, whenever you feel most creative and nothing will bother you. Even 15 minutes will do!
  • Choose the parameters and techniques you will focus on.
  • Create.
  • Give your work a few days to rest.
  • Come back and see if you still like it. If you don’t, improve it. Perhaps writing down all the changes you’re making will help you avoid a few mistakes or bad ideas in the future.
  • Repeat the above, and keep composing and honing your skills!

Perhaps you have someone who could take a look at some of your works, or even play them, and share their insight with you?

  1. Join a community

Speaking of showing your works to others… Joining a community dedicated to music composers is a brilliant way to exchange ideas, critical opinions, support, and then… improve. After all, who will understand you better than a fellow composer? There are numerous groups on the Internet and social media to choose from. Don’t be shy, go for it!

  1. Bonus tip!

Do you know what another great idea is? Yes, you’ve guessed! Taking part in the Szymanowski Competition! We invited true masters of the music arena and the most brilliant composers to join our Qualifying Committee and Jury! Wouldn’t it be great to show them your work? Take your chance!

The winning works will be released on CDs and included in the repertoire for the further Competition categories. Besides the cash prize, obviously 😉

Composition Category ends on 30th September!

NOSPR, the main organizer of the Competition, is currently at the Japan tournèe! The event was inaugurated by a press conference, during which the Szymanowski Competition received tremendous attention! We are really happy about the success of the Competition in such distant corners of the globe. The event was highlighted by the performance of a Japanese superstar - Hayato Sumino Cateen, and a chamber concert of the extraordinary NOSPR musicians. The Competition gained a lot of interest from our Japanese friends, which makes us extremely happy and proud.

Meanwhile, we root for NOSPR during the tournèe. Follow their photo-reports on NOSPR’s social media.

Don’t forget the first Competition Category - Composition is coming to an end. You can submit your work only until the 30th of September!

Fot. Maciej Komorowski

Karol Szymanowski — an outstanding Polish composer of global fame. Some call him a second Chopin, others claim that his fame would have grown even greater had he lived in different times. 

An unusually colourful personality, he deserves recognition and commemoration. It is for persons who want to come as close to Szymanowski as possible during the second edition of the Competition, that we prepared a series of short articles focusing on particular stages of the composer’s life. We want to gather all facts, myths, and trivia together. We will do our best to make your reading not only fascinating, but pleasurable as well.

Meanwhile, we would like to invite instrumentalists to follow our social media channels and invite composers to take part in your category of the Competition.

See you soon at another Szymanowski 101 lesson!

We are expanding the jury of the Composition category of the 2nd edition of the Szymanowski Competition!

An Estonian composer has joined the jury. Drawing inspiration from Gregorian chant, oriental melodies, spectral music, and the avant-garde experiments of IRCAM, she creates compositions that perfectly reflect the cultural richness of her country of origin.

Currently, she is a professor of composition at the Estonian Academy of Music and art director of the Estonian Music Days. The artist has been honoured with the Estonian Order of the White Star and French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

One and only - Helena Tulve! You will find more information on the composer on the Competition page / Composition / Jury.

“45. Karol Szymanowski Music Days” festival begins today! The event celebrates the 140th anniversary of the composer’s birthday. The festival is organised by our friends and the Competition’s co-organisers - The Karol Szymanowski Music Society. The program is really extensive, especially in the works of the Competition's patron. Therefore, we highly recommend visiting Zakopane between 24th and 31st July. It is also a great opportunity for the Competition’s participants who would like to prepare themselves really well.

The festival will be held in several places in the capital of Tatras. One of them is Atma - the famous villa where Szymanowski lived for a few years. One of the attractions is a film about the composer. A cappella concert on 29th July deserves special attention. On this day you can listen to a new composition by Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa who is a member of the Competition’s Honorary Committee. 

Among the performers at the festival will be:  Marta Kuziy, Joanna Domańska, Wojciech Pyrć, the Polish Radio Choir, and the Silesian String Quartet.

We strongly encourage you to participate in the event, you will find more information here.

We have been waiting for this day for a very long time, and we are truly excited to share this news with you - we are opening entries for the Composition category!

The 2nd edition of the Szymanowski Competition is the opportunity for the most talented young musicians to gain fame and attractive awards. The total cash prize sum is 300,000! Entries for the Composition category close on 30th September and the results will be revealed in the month of the 140th anniversary of Karol Szymanowski’s birthday.  In November, we open entries for the performers in the following categories: Piano, Violin, String Quartet, and Voice. The winning piece in the composition category will become a part of the repertoire for the performers. But first, let us remind you the age limits. Artists born in the following years may participate in the 2nd part of the Competition:

Piano, Violin, String Quartet: 1991 - 2006


ladies: 1991 - 2003

gentlemen: 1988 - 2003

Final auditions will be held in the Concert Hall of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice. It was designed by an extraordinary specialist in the domain of acoustics, Yasuhisa Toyota from Nagata Acoustics. Certainly, the experience of performing in such a place will remain unforgettable for long years - after all, it was for a reason that the NPRSO seat was included in the prestigious European Concert Hall Organization ECHO - an association that unites the finest music centres in Europe.

Composers, you can apply here:

Good luck!

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