for outstanding, non-professional pianists age 35 and older


The Ninth Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition will take place in Fort Worth, Texas in June 2028. Further details regarding application, venues, jury, competition schedule, and festival events will be announced in 2027.


Inaugurated in 1999, the Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition was the first event of its kind in the United States. Hailed by the Boston Globe as “a celebration of music, and the people who have to make music no matter what;” the contest highlights the importance of music-making in everyday life and provides a forum for musicians age 35 and older who do not perform, teach, or compose piano music for their primary professional pursuit or financial benefit. The competition brings together the best amateur pianists from around the world for seven days of performances, symposia, and social events.


The Cliburn Amateur has held eight competitions since its inception in 1999, and holds a beautiful legacy of true passion for music making and international camaraderie through classical piano.


At the Cliburn, we are lucky to promote and be surrounded by music. We present recitals by professional artists through several series, bring a grand piano and musicians to hundreds of schools for interactive concerts, and produce competitions that reward artistic achievement at the highest levels. We constantly strive to present the best-quality programs in service to our mission of advancing classical piano music throughout the world.

As a layperson, it’s easy to enjoy these musical offerings. But the Amateur Competition invites deeper participation by inviting nonprofessionals to aspire to great musical heights themselves.

For the pianists who are competing in Fort Worth, preparation has required commitment and discipline in the midst of already busy lives. First there’s the task of creating interesting programs and curating a series of recitals that will showcase a distinctive musical vision while displaying technical ease. Then there’s the process of actually learning music: to read the notes and thread them together, to get the fingers to do exactly what they’re supposed to do, to understand the overall architecture of a work, to create meaning and nuance in each phrase. After all the hours of practicing are done, these competitors will allow themselves both the immense joy and the vulnerability of sharing their work and artistic vision with a widespread audience. We can’t help but admire their efforts and cheer them on!

The Boston Globe proclaimed the Cliburn Amateur Competition to be “a celebration of music, and the people who have to make music, no matter what.” We’re privileged to offer a platform for these gifted amateur pianists to show off their incredible talents, to honor the hard work and dedication that goes into perfecting this art, and to celebrate classical piano music with those who love it.

Since 1999 the Cliburn has welcomed to Fort Worth over 350 different pianists from six continents who have represented such diverse fields as architecture, banking, engineering, film, homemaking, journalism, law, mathematics, and medicine. These competitors inspire us not only with extraordinary performances and musicianship, but also by their devotion to this craft and all the ways that manifests itself in daily life: waking up at 5:00 in the morning to sneak in an hour of practice before the rest of the family wakes up; accompanying the kids in violin recitals or helping them practice; heading straight to the piano after a long workday to finish learning a page of music; giving performances in their local communities. Some have played continuously since the age of four, while others have returned to the piano after perhaps decades of silence. Some have advanced performance degrees; others are self-taught. Their training, histories, and beliefs vary, but their shared passion brings them all to the Cliburn Amateur.