Primrose International Viola Competition

The Primrose International Viola Competition® 2024 is open to violists born on or after June 23, 1992, who are ready to embark on an international solo career. The Competition welcomes applicants of all nationalities, ethnic origins, religions, and genders. Applicants are required to be current members in good standing with the American Viola Society and to submit a nonrefundable application fee of $125 US dollars.

Repertoire Guidelines & Procedures

Competitors must perform a different selection of works in each round (including the Pre-Screening Round), and no substitutions are allowed for required works. Repeats are not encouraged, but permitted. The cutting of particularly lengthy tutti sections is strongly encouraged for all rounds (except for the Final Round), but ultimately left to the discretion of the competitor. All works originally written for viola & orchestra and all works for solo viola must be performed by memory. Competitors are free to decide their performance order for each round, but those who do not abide by the time limits may be stopped by the jury.

Only one transcribed work may be used to compete for the “Transcriptions Prize,” and only one work by an underrepresented composer demographic may be used to compete for the “Illumination Prize.” The competition is not open to laureates of any previous edition of the Primrose International Viola Competition. The number of competitors are subject to change, and the jury will have the discretion to decide on the final number of competitors for each round. All prizes will be awarded, and the decisions of the jury will be final.

Pre-Screening/Video Round

Maximum length of total combined performance of all three works – 20 minutes

Competitors will perform works that fulfill all of the following criteria, and each video recording shall be made from start to finish without cuts and/or splices. Each work shall be uploaded separately. Since it will be a blind review process, do not include your name on the videos or on the titles of your video files:

  1. Virtuosic piece of choice (examples include, but are not limited to, Paganini’s 24 Caprices or the Penderecki Cadenza for Solo Viola);
  2. The Prelude of a Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite, the Preludio of Partita No. 3 in E Major, or the first movement of a Violin Sonata, transcribed for viola; and
  3. First Movement of Carl Philipp Stamitz Viola Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 1 or Franz Anton Hoffmeister Viola Concerto in D Major, both including cadenzas.
Quarter-Final Round

Minimum length of performance – 20 minutes; Maximum length of performance – 25 minutes

The 24 competitors in the Quarter-Final Round will perform works that fulfill all three of the following criteria:

  1. One major work for solo viola from the list below. Competitors may choose to play one or more movements from the same work to maintain time constraints; however, portions of movements are not permitted:
    • Paul Hindemith: Sonata for Solo Viola No. 1, Op. 11, No. 5 (1919); No. 2, Op. 25, No. 1 (1922); No. 3, Op. 31, No. 4 (1923); or No. 4 (1937)
    • Max Reger: Any of the Drei Suiten (Three Suites) for Solo Viola, Op. 131d (1915)
    • Ernst Krenek: Sonata for Viola Solo, Op. 92, No. 3 (1942)
  2. One piece of choice with piano accompaniment from a category below:
    • Transcribed piece for viola – the transcription can be their own OR a transcription by William Primrose. Some Primrose transcriptions are listed in the PDF called “Primrose Transcriptions” below for reference. (Note: competitors who choose to perform the Weber Andante e rondo ungarese must use the Primrose transcription)
    • Virtuosic piece (examples include, but are not limited to, Paganini Sonata per la Grand Viola and Enescu Concertstück)
  3. One piece for solo viola or for viola & piano by a Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) composer. Competitors may refer to a list of suggested works here, but are not limited to these works. (Note: while the database is rather broad, competitors must choose a work specifically by a BIPOC composer to fulfill this requirement.)
Semi-Final Round

Maximum length of performance – 50 minutes 

 The eight competitors in the Semi‐Final Round will perform works that fulfill the requirements below: 

  1.  Any two contrasting movements of a solo work by Johann Sebastian Bach (one movement can have been used in the pre-screening round);
  2. The commissioned work for viola and piano by composer Nokuthula Ngwenyama for the 2024 Primrose International Viola Competition, lasting from 5-7 minutes (All live round competitors will have access to the score in March 2024); and  
  3. A complete major work for Viola and Piano (Selections include, but are not limited to: Clarke Sonata, a Brahms Sonata, Rochberg Sonata, any Hindemith Sonata for Viola, Bloch Suite 1919, Shostakovich Sonata, Bax Sonata, Bowen Sonata, Walker Sonata, Rubinstein Sonata, any Juon Sonata, Vieuxtemps Sonata, etc.) 
Final Round

Each of the three competitors in the Final Round will perform, in its entirety, Claude Debussy Trio for Flute, Viola and Pedal Harp (1915); and either the Bela Bartók Viola Concerto (ed. Serly) or William Walton Viola Concerto with orchestra.












* The First Prize winner will also receive the following: 1) an invitation to perform at the 2026 American Viola Society Festival and 2) an invitation to the semi-finals of the Concert Artists Guild Competition  

** For best performance of a work by an underrepresented composer demographic 

Competition Schedule

(All live rounds of the Competition will be held in Zipper Hall.)


Online application due on January 15, 2024


Mid-February 2024


By end of February 2024


March 2024


June 16, 2024


June 17 & 18, 2024


June 19, 2024


June 21, 2024


June 22, 2024