The competition


The Franz Liszt International Competition - Mario Zanfi Award owes its name to the great pianist and teacher who conceived, founded and financed it with a testamentary disposition in 1975.

For Mario Zanfi, the desire to name and dedicate a new piano competition to the figure of Franz Liszt aimed at satisfying a very pressing need that he perceived as a mission of the highest value: to reacknowledge, in the perception of the general public, the full recognition of Liszt’s compositional and prophetic value, which goes well beyond the idea of virtuosity that is usually associated with it.



After thirty-seven years from the first edition we can recognize that significant steps have been taken in that direction, especially among those who have accepted the exegesis of Liszt's work as an indispensable tool for the analysis of the major trends of the twentieth century. In any case, what remains singularly rooted in the audience, is a generic stereotype of the composer, which makes the action that Mario Zanfi wanted to undertake forty-three years ago even more necessary today. Currently, the organization and hospitality of the competition are entrusted to the Arrigo Boito Conservatoire, the fulcrum and crossroads of Parma's musical life.
Past editions allowed contestants to compete through a very demanding repertoire, carefully chosen by Zanfi himself. For the 2019 edition it was decided to offer greater freedom of choice to the participants, in order to encourage in the participants both their own artistic programming and the exploration of usually neglected areas of the vast Lisztian output.
Other innovations have also been introduced, such as the awarding of special prizes for the best performances of certain works, the performance of a Verdi paraphrase in the final stage, and the collaboration with the Fondazione Toscanini, as well as with the award-winning Verdi Festival and the Teatro Regio in Parma, home of the finals with orchestra. Important performing arrangements for the winner are also being organized.
The XI edition is thus presenting itself as a renewed, important chapter in the path that Mario Zanfi wanted to undertake with courage and generosity in 1975, in the hope that the Competition can be a key moment both in the life of the pianists who will participate - the competitions dedicated to the figure of Franz Liszt are very few in the world - and as an event shared and experienced with intensity by the city of Parma itself, in its musical, cultural and civic identity.

The President of the Parma Conservatoire, Andrea Chiesi
The Head of the Parma Conservatoire, Riccardo Ceni
The Zanfi Award Coordinator 2019, Giampaolo Nuti



The Teatro Regio of Parma

L'Orchestra dell'Emilia Romagna
Arturo Toscanini

The "Arrigo Boito" Conservatory 

The "Arrigo Boito" Music Conservatoire is the Institution that, since the first edition, organizes the competition. To the "Boito", where he studied from 1911 to 1920, the great pianist Mario Zanfi bequeathed his legacy to promote an international piano competition dedicated to the Hungarian composer whom he loved most, Franz Liszt.

Born in the first half of the 1800s as a school of music of the Duchy of Parma, the "Arrigo Boito" music conservatoire is one of the major Italian Conservatories. Arturo Toscanini, Arrigo Boito himself, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Claudio Abbado and Azio Corghi trained and worked within the walls of the old Carmine convent.



Via del Conservatorio 27/b 
43121, Parma, Italia


Telefono +39 0521 381911