“Competitions are for horses, not artists,” said Béla Bartók. Esteemed Irish pianist and educator John O’Conor believes that they are “a necessary evil” – a way for young musicians to get noticed in today’s busy music scene. But what must a competitor do to succeed?

O’Conor is about to arrive in Australia as Jury Chair for the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition & Festival, a 14-day event running at the Queensland Conservatorium from June 30 to July 12.

John O’Conor. Photograph supplied

O’Conor burst onto the scene when he won the 1973 International Beethoven Piano Competition. A former  Director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, he is now Artistic Director of the Dublin International Piano Competition, which he co-founded; the Distinguished Artist in Residence, Professor of Music and Chair of the Piano Division at Shenandoah Conservatory at Shenandoah University in Winchester VA; Professor of Piano, Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto; International Visiting Artist at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin; and Visiting Professor at Showa University of Music in Japan. He has sat on the jury of many piano competitions, including the Sydney International Piano Competition...