History of the Competition

The International String Quartet Competition has come a long way since the first Competition was staged in Portsmouth in 1979.

Since then, it has attracted entries from all over the world, including the USA, UK, Europe, Japan, Russian and China. Some of the world’s most famous string quartets are 'laureates' of this Competition, including the Takács, Hagen, Alexander, Shanghai, Vanbrugh, Wihan, Belcea and Endellion Quartets, amongst many others.

The Competition itself has spawned at least three others globally: in Banff, in Osaka and in Melbourne. It can safely be said that that original initiative that launched the International String Quartet Competition in 1979 has made a huge impact on the art of the string quartet over the last 25 years.

The Competition moved to London in 1988, and has now found its natural home at Wigmore Hall. Perhaps the most appropriate accolades come from the musicians themselves:

Winning the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition is a dream that we were fortunate to achieve. It's like a curtain that, once opened, reveals the most wonderful stage of opportunities.

Răsvan Dumitru, Arcadia Quartet (winners in 2012)

The Competition has opened so many doors for us. Before the competition we were not known in the UK at all and we were definitely the underdogs coming to the competition. Since our success we have acquired a UK manager and have received a lot of attention from the UK.

The greatest opportunity has been our month long UK tour in February 2011; we played 22 concerts and had a great time. We have had many performance opportunities abroad as a direct result of the Competition.

Frederik Øland Olsen, The Danish String Quartet (winners in 2009)

Winning the First Prize at the London Competition confirmed that we made the right decision in choosing chamber music and the art of the string quartet, and that we can successfully give the audience real pleasure. And, of course, the Competition gave us the opportunity to perform on the international stage.

Anton Ilyunin, Atrium Quartet (winners in 2003)

The London International String Quartet Competition remains the yardstick – at least in our view, by which all other international competitions in every genre must be measured.

David Quiggle, Casals Quartet (winners in 2000)

Winning the first prize in the LISQC has been the single most important event in launching our international concert career.

Sandy Wilson, Alexander String Quartet (winners in 1985)


When we won it, it gave us confidence and we saw that it [the Competition] was worthwhile, and also Yehudi Menuhin giving us the first prize was unbelievable.

Obviously, winning a huge competition like this and Menuhin himself giving the first prize, it changed our life.

Gábor Takács-Nagy, Takács Quartet (winners in 1979)