The Gurwitz International Piano Competition seeks to discover the next generation of top young pianists from around the globe while bridging the art of classical piano with world music and culture.

Each competition occurs every four years in San Antonio, TX, USA. Along with standard concert repertoire, pianists demonstrate their versatility by performing music rooted in their native cultures, works by Spanish and Latin composers celebrating San Antonio’s cultural makeup, and a commissioned work with chamber ensemble. A final piano concerto round with full symphony orchestra concludes each competition.

Expanding the contestants’ view beyond a traditional classical mindset connects this next generation of award-winning pianists to a global audience as they develop their career and take the world stage. Today’s world is more interconnected than ever before.  By exposing pianists to world music, The Gurwitz reflects the very tapestry of this inspired art form.

Gurwitz competition History

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

The competition has featured exhilarating young talents from around the world with past contestants 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. Some of the most distinguished concert pianists, educators, and music industry leaders have also served on the competition’s jury panel, such as: Olga Kern, Abbey Simon, David Burge, Yaron Kohlberg, 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, Afa Dworkin, and Carolyn True.

Former president Anne Johnson, pianist Grace Berry and former board member Lynne Noriskin. Credit: Leland A. Outz/For the Express-News

Acquisition by MBAW & Name Change
After the twelfth competition in June 2016 Musical Bridges Around the World (MBAW) absorbed SAIPC and took it to new heights in 2020, renaming it The Gurwitz in honor of the late Ruth Jean Gurwitz, co-founder of the competition as well as former President and President Emeritus for over 20 years.

Gurwitz Gains World Status
In 2020 Musical Bridges Around the World expanded The Gurwitz to the world stage. The competition was accepted as a member of the Geneva-based World Federation of International Music Competitions (WFIMC), comprised of over 110 music competitions worldwide. Criteria for acceptance includes a final round performance with a full symphony orchestra and a minimum four of seven judges from outside the United States.

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 co-founded 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