The 55th competition

Ben Glassberg, laureate of the Grand Prix 2017

After the jury deliberation, the winner of the 55th Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors is Ben Glassberg (23 years) obtained all the prices :

The « Grand Prix de Direction 2017 »
The « Coup de cœur du public » (The public’s favorite)
The orchestra’s « Coup de cœur »

It was with joy and humor in a mastered French that he warmly thanked the jury, the public, the Orchestra National de Lyon, as well as his family who came to support him.


The 2017 Competition in videos

Four minutes to discover the Besançon Competition

Image of the Day#6 : Ben Glassberg, laureate 2017

26 minutes TV Report by France 3 Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

Complete Final round of the 55th Competition (live)

Download the 2017 Competition brochure
Download the complete presentation of the 55th Competition (french)


In 2017, the preliminaries have been held from 27 April to 15 May in the presence of two members of the jury – the conductors Jorge Rotter and Catherine Larsen-Maguire.
The preliminaries were either held behind closed doors or restricted to a small audience (schoolchildren, students, etc.).

Each candidate was asked to conduct two pianists playing symphonic works on two pianos. Candidates only had a few minutes to impress the jury members. The jury may ask for a non-stop performance, or ask the candidate to rehearse the pianists.

Works to be performed
Candidates had to prepare the following works for the preliminaries rounds.

  • Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony N°1 in C major (Opus 21)
    (Orchestra score, piano 1 : strings / piano 2 : harmony)
  • Hector BerliozRomeo and Juliet / symphonic extracts
    (Transcription for two pianos)

Final rounds

The final rounds with orchestra have been held from 11 to 16 September 2017, in Besançon.
The final rounds with orchestra (except the welcome meeting and Final rehearsals) were open to the public, in the same way as the Music Festival during which the Competition was held : bookings at the ticket office, concerts in the Kursaal or in the Théâtre Ledoux of Besançon.

All candidates conducted the same orchestra, in the presence of all members of the jury. Apart from the final round, which took the form of a traditional concert, all other rounds were as rehearsal-type sessions with the orchestra and soloists ; the candidates have therefore been required to stop the orchestra or soloists to work with them on certain passages. The works for the final round have been played in full and without interruption, under concert conditions.

Download the program.

  • Welcome meeting with candidates, jury presentation (not public)
    Sunday 10 Sept. 4:30 pm
  • 1/8 Final Symphonic
    Monday 11 Sept. 2:30 pm and 8 pm / 20 candidates maximum
    Orchestre Victor Hugo Franche-Comté
    > Aaron Copland, Appalachian spring orchestra suite – Full orchestra version
  • 1/4 Final Opera
    Tuesday 12 Sept. 2:30 pm and 8 pm / 12 candidates maximum
    Orchestre Victor Hugo Franche-Comté
    Solenn Le Trividic, soprano | Marion Lebegue, mezzo
    Antonel Boldan, ténor | Mickaël Guedj, baryton
    > Georges Bizet, Carmen (extracts : recitativo and arias)
  • 1/2 Final Concerto
    Wednesday 13 Sept. 2:30 pm / 6 candidates maximum
    Orchestre national de Lyon| Philippe Cassard, piano
    > Frédéric Chopin, Piano concerto #2, F minor (extracts)
  • 1/2 Final Oratorio
    Wednesday 13 Sept. 8 pm / 6 candidates maximum
    Orchestre national de Lyon and Ensemble Aedes
    > Jean-Sébastien Bach, Mass, BWV 232, B minor (extracts without soloists)
  • Final Rehearsals (not public)
    Friday 15 Sept. 2:30 pm and 8 pm / 3 candidates maximum
  • Final Symphonic and original piece
    Saturday 16 Sept. 6 pm / 3 candidates maximum
    Orchestre national de Lyon
    > Philippe Hersant, Le jardin étoilé, world premiere, order of the Festival
    > Claude Debussy, Nocturnes (Nuages ; Fêtes)
    > Johann Strauss, Fledermaus (opening)

Jury 2017

The jury of the Competition was composed of 7 international personalities.

  • Jury chairman : Leonard Slatkin, Conductor (US)
  • Philippe Hersant, composer in residence at the Festival (FR)
  • Stefan Asbury, conductor (UK)
  • Valérie Chevalier, director of opera (FR)
  • Catherine Larsen-Maguire, conductor (UK)
  • Jorge Rotter, conductor (AR)
  • Jean-François Verdier, conductor (FR)

The jury reserves the right to interrupt a round, or to exclude a competitor during one of the rounds and is under no obligation to provide justification for its decision. The jury’s decisions are final and cannot be appealed. In the event of a tie the jury Chair has a casting vote.

Grand Prix and « coups de cœur »

The Grand Prix

  • €12,000. The jury reserves the right not to award the Grand Prix. It cannot be shared.
  • The winner was also be awarded a LIP watch, a Competition partner.
  • Advice and coaching : Since 2015, the Competition decided to offer the laureate a three-month period of artistic guidance with Aimée Paret, specialized in consulting and accompaniment of young chefs. The goal is to take the time to take stock with the winner on its strengths and potential weaknesses, establish a career strategy, select an artistic agency and possibly negotiate the contract. This accompaniment is fundamental for the spotlight of the Grand Prix of Besançon is a career stepping stone.
  • Professional integration : the laureate may also be offered engagements with the Competition’s partner orchestras, as well :

* firm commitments


Trophy made by students of the Lycée Professionnel Saint Joseph in Besançon

The « best picks »

  • The audience attending the Final was called to vote to award the « Coup de cœur du public ».
    NEW : the Final has been broadcasted live on the web, a voting system was to be set up on social networks or on a dedicated site. The electronic votes would be added to the votes of the public of the room.
  • Musicians of the Orchestre National de Lyon would also be called to vote by secret ballot to designate th « Coup de cœur de l’orchestre ».

Special mention

The jury can award a Special Mention; the Competition may endow these with a cash prize (no mention awarded in 2017).