In the spirit of piano artistry, The Gurwitz presents public competition to discover the next generation of top young pianists from around the world while bridging the art of classical piano with World Music that celebrates cultural diversity.

Every four years The Gurwitz participants and jurors from around the globe showcase the art of piano in San Antonio, Texas. Along with the standard piano concert repertoire pianists demonstrate their versatility by performing music rooted in their native cultures as well as Latin composers to celebrate San Antonio cultural makeup. Chamber Music round gives rare opportunity to perform newly commissioned piece for piano and World Music Instruments. The final round is a collaboration with the San Antonio Symphony.

Expanding the view of both participants and audiences beyond a traditional, classical mindset connects the next generation of award-winning pianists to a global audience as they develop their career and take the world stage. The Gurwitz will discover and promote versatile, well-rounded talent reflect the ever-changing cultural texture of our evolving planet.

The modern world is more interconnected than ever before. Art is a reflection of this interconnectivity. By opening classically trained pianists to world music, growth accessibility and interconnectedness.


2020 Gurwitz medalists (left to right): Gold Medalist Jiale Li (CHN), Silver Medalist Yedam Kim (KOR), Bronze Medalist Leonardo Colafelice (ITL). Credit: Rob Michaelson.

The Gurwitz International Piano Competition (formerly known as The San Antonio International Piano Competition) was founded in 1983 by a group of fellow music lovers, some of whom are still involved with the Competition today, with the very first competition being held in the Laurie Auditorium at Trinity University in October 1984.

This quadrennial competition (sometimes referred to affectionately as “Piano Olympics” because of its 4 year iteration) features some of the most exhilarating young talents in the world with past participants hailing from Australia, Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela. Participation in The Gurwitz has inspired young pianists to greater heights, with many taking their rightful places among the most prestigious music faculties in the world and/or bringing joy to audiences around the globe through prestigious concert performances.

Over the years some of the most distinguished concert pianists/educators have served on The Gurwitz Jury panel, 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, Gustavo Romero, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Olga Kern, Afa Dworkin, Yaron Kohlberg, and Carolyn True.

Acquisition by MBAW & Name Change
Shortly after the completion of the twelfth competition in June 2016, the competition’s Board of Directors entered into discussions with the organization they felt was the best match to take the competition to new heights: Musical Bridges Around the World (MBAW). A year later, MBAW acquired the competition as one of its many arms of programming and subsequently renamed it The Gurwitz International Piano Competition to honor the late Ruth Jean Gurwitz who was a competition co-founder and President Emeritus for more than 20 years. (Read more about Ruth Jean below)

Gurwitz Gains World Status
One of the next steps for MBAW was to bring The Gurwitz onto the global stage. A major step came when the competition was accepted as a member of the Geneva-based World Federation of International Music Competitions (WFIMC) starting in 2020. The WFIMC is a member of the International Council of Music founded by UNESCO in 1949; The Council “promotes access to music for all and the value of music in the lives of all people.” The criteria for acceptance into the WFIMC included a last-round performance with a professional symphony, a minimum of four of seven judges from outside the United States, and hosting at least two international piano competitions prior to applying for membership. The Gurwitz met these requirements after the 2020 competition partnered with the San Antonio Symphony for its final round and its judge’s international requirements were met.

Ruth Jean Gurwitz

Ruth Jean Gurwitz (1929-2015), a woman of great beauty and musical ability, was born in San Antonio, TX on Feb. 5, 1929. RJ, as she was known to her friends, displayed an enormous musical talent at a young age. She began playing the piano by ear at age three, which led to a lifelong commitment to music performance and education. Ruth Jean was well remembered at Jefferson High School for her piano recitals. She graduated Stephens College, and attended the University of Texas and the Music Academy of the West. She received a degree in piano from Incarnate Word College. As a young woman, Ruth Jean was a piano teacher and a volunteer for Jewish communal organizations. She also began her decades of support for San Antonio musical organizations. This included the San Antonio Chamber Music Society, the Tuesday Musical Club, Texas Public Radio’s KPAC 88.3 FM.

Ruth Jean cofounded the San Antonio International Piano Competition, as well as residing as its President and President Emeritus for more than 20 years. For this lifelong dedication, the former Board of the competition and acquiring organization Musical Bridges Around the World made the decision to rename the competition in her honor, with the inaugural Gurwitz International Piano Competition occurring in January/February 2020.

Ruth Jean’s lifelong association with music also included her family’s founding of former San Antonio musical institution Southern Music Company, which was known worldwide in the music community. She enjoyed hosting and traveling to meet musicians and music industry leaders from across the country and around the world. She was an extraordinary performer, capable of playing any work after hearing it just once, or even having someone hum a few bars. She was a devotee of classical music but also relished improvisational jazz, playing with accomplished musicians. And she took great pleasure in performing duets with her grandchildren. She will be remembered and celebrated!

Past Competitions