The San Antonio International Piano Competition was founded in 1983 by Dr. Richard Ferguson and a small group of fellow music lovers, some of whom are still involved with the Competition today. Articles of Incorporation, By-laws and official recognition by IRS were quickly established, and the first Competition was held at Trinity University’s Laurie Auditorium in October 1984.
Since the initial Competition, 11 more artistically and financially successful Competitions have taken place, all at Trinity University’s Ruth Taylor Concert Hall with the exception of 1986, when the events were held at UTSA’s Recital Hall. The Finals and the Winners’ Recitals of the 1997 and 2000 Competitions were videotaped and broadcast over educational TV station KLRN. These recitals were also recorded and broadcast over Texas Public Radio’s KPAC/FM.
Over the years some of the most distinguished concert pianists/educators have served as Judges, such as Abbey Simon, David Burge, Joseph Bloch, Ruth Laredo, Ann Schein, Peter Takacs, Ralph Votapek, Daniel Pollack, Robin McCabe, William Wolfram, Santiago Rodriguez, Lita Guerra, Boris Slutsky (former SAIPC Gold Medalist), Jeffrey Swann, Ilana Vered, Naoko Takao (former SAIPC Gold Medalist), Eduardo Delgado, Jeffrey Biegel and Gustavo Romero.
In 1991 SAIPC inaugurated the custom of commissioning a new work of music, to be played by all Contestants during the Competition. Our first commissioned work was written by Lowell Liebermann, who is today recognized as one of America’s leading composers. Since then, two San Antonio composers, Timothy Kramer and Elisenda Fabregas, have written works performed in this setting. Other composers include Henry Martin, Judith Zaimont, Ronn Yedidia, Grammy winner Joan Tower, Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Moravec and Matthew Mason.
The year 1991 also saw the introduction of Master Classes, taught by our Judges to local students chosen by audition. These classes have become a highly regarded feature of the Competition Week and are also presented as part of the outreach program throughout the year.
In 2016 the competition’s leadership and the leadership of Musical Bridges Around the World decided to join forces and in 2017 the merger was completed. Going forward the San Antonio International Piano Competition will be a program of Musical Bridges Around the World. During the process of negotiating it was decided to rename the competition after its longtime Director and supporter, Ruth Jean Gurwitz. The competition will now be known as The Ruth Jean Gurwitz International Piano Competition or The Gurwitz.