The Kissinger Piano Olympics from 30th of september till the 3rd of october 2021

Every year in October the Kissinger Piano Olympics are a platform for young pianists in Bad Kissingen, the most famous health resort in Germany. The competition, which was founded in 2003 by exclusively private investors, has awarded people like Martin Helmchen, Nikolai Tokarev, Igor Levit and Herbert Schuch.

Bild_KKO_nur der Berg

Six highly talented, young pianists among the outstanding, new talents in Europe are invited to Bad Kissingen every year to introduce themselves to the jury and the Kissingen audience with their own program. They are all winners of national and international competitions. Because of the rules for hygiene during the Corona pandemic all secen concerts of 2020 took place in the magnificent Regentenbau of the Munich Architect Max Littmann in the Max-Littmann-Saal. After the final concert at Sunday evening the winners were announced.

All participants of the Kissinger Piano Olympics are then invited to the next Kissinger Sommer. The first place plays solo with an orchestra while the remaining pianists perform two solo recitals. An expert jury chooses the award winners and those in the audience who visited all concerts can give their vote for an audience price.

Even after the competition in autumn the Kissinger Sommer supports the pianists of the Piano Olympics. Through cooperation with other organizers the young award winners are sure to be involved in artistic endeavors besides the Kissinger Sommer.

The Jury

Alexander Steinbeis © Kai Breitling

Alexander Steinbeis

Thomas Ahnert

Thomas Ahnert

took over directorship of the Kissinger Sommer, coinciding with the start of the Festival 2022, as the successor of Kari Kahl-Wolfsjäger and Tilman Schlömp. Before that he acted as the director of the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin for 13 years. During that time he was responsible for artistic direction and planning as well as the introduction of numerous innovative concert formats and he worked together with conductors such as Kent Nagano, Ingo Metzmacher, Tugan Sokhiev and Robin Ticciati. From 1999 until 2005 he worked as the artistic deputy manager of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival. Alexander Steinbeis grew up in Upper Bavaria and Great Britain.

grew up in Munich. Studied German, Romance languages and literature, and education in Munich and Würzburg. He is a freelancer for various daily newspapers. In addition to his active working life, Thomas Ahnert is still a cultural editor at the "Saale-Zeitung" (Bad Kissingen), "Fränkischer Tag" (Bamberg), "Coburger Tagblatt" and other newspapers of the Upper Franconia Media Group. Contributions to other newspapers and magazines, program author. Co-initiator of the Bad Kissingen Piano Olympiad in 2003 (at that time the Piano Olympiad was still allowed to be called that) and since then member of the jury. As a practicing and performing musician, violist of a string quartet and double bassist of the Kissingen Chamber Orchestra.

Sonja Simmenauer © Lennart Rühle

Sonia Simmenauer

Ulrich Hausschild

Ulrich Hauschild

The Cultural Manager, journalist and impresaria Sonia Simmenauer, who was born in the USA and grew up in Paris, began working for the chamber music department of the Konzertdirektion Schmid in Hannover in 1982. In 1989 she became independent by founding the Impresariat Simmenauer in Hamburg with the intention of creating a string quartet agency that would represent a large portion of string quartets all over the world and later on soloists like Gidon Kremer and Alexander Melnikov. Aside from her main work she pursued a long career as a teacher. A seminar for cultural management at the Lüneburg University in 1996 was followed by lectureships at the Lübeck Musical Academy (1997), the Hanns-Eisler Musical Academy (1998-2000) as well as the Witten-Herdecke University (2004-2008). Since 2010, Sonia Simmenauer is a honorary professor at the Hamburg Musical Academy. In 2008 she opened the Jewish café Leonar, a Jewish salon in the Grindel district of Hamburg and released the acclaimed book “Muss es sein” via the Berenberg publishing house. Sonia Simmenauer moved her Impresariat from Hamburg to Berlin in 2009.

Since January 2021, Ulrich Hauschild has been manager of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with its designated principal conductor Sir Simon Rattle. As Music Director of the Palais des Beaux-Arts Brussels (Bozar), Ulrich Hauschild was responsible for the complete musical program and the development of the artistic mission of one of the most important European cultural centers between 2013 and 2020. Before his time in Brussels, Ulrich Hauschild was managing director of "pèlerinages" Kunstfest Weimar with overall responsibility for the cross-disciplinary curated festival. Between 2005 and 2007 he worked as a consultant for the Lucerne Festival, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin, Unitel Classica and the Salzburg Festival. As artistic director of the Konzerthaus Dortmund, he was instrumental in shaping the new concert hall's profile in the first years of its development. As personal advisor to Gerard Mortier at the Salzburg Festival and as personal assistant to Robert Wilson, he worked with two of the most influential opera personalities of the 20th century.
After studying economics at the University of Passau, he gained profound knowledge in the early stages of his career.

Manuel Brug

Manuel Brug

Born in 1965, studied theatre sciences, comparative literature, romance studies and musical sciences at the Ludwig-Maximilian University after he graduated from his ballet training at the Heinz-Bosl Foundation and the Munich University of Music. After having worked at the Bayericher Rundfunk and ARD and as music and dance critic for “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, editor for “Opernwelt”, “Wochenpost” and “Tagesspiegel” he became editor for music and dance for the “Welt” magazine in 1998; in 2017 he attained the position of author there. In 1999 he was awarded the Critic Award of the Salzburger Festspiele. He contributed numerous articles for German and international newspapers and magazines, encyclopedias, anthologies, essays, specialist journals and radio stations. He also wrote the books “Die neuen Sängerstimmen” (2003), “Opernregisseure heute” (2006), “Rolando Villazón – Die Kunst, Tenor zu sein” (2008).

Promotion of the
Kissinger Piano Olympics

Förderung KlavierOlymp © kai -

Please contact us if you would like to support us by a donation of money or in kind. For this propose we can issue the contribution receipt. Also it would be possible to get a media performance for example a radio spot or an advertisement in our concert program brochure.

We look forward to any support.



Kissinger Sommer
Erna Buscham
Im Luitpoldpark 1
97688 Bad Kissingen

Tel.: +49 971 807-1101
Fax: +49 971 807-1119

The candidates of the 18th Kissinger Piano Olympics 2020

The award winners of the
Kissinger Piano Olympics

This is an overview of the award winners of the Kissinger Piano Olympics so far. Many artists have laid the groundwork for their careers here in Bad Kissingen. Numerous pianists rose up to be stars of classical music through the Kissinger Piano Olympics such as Igor Levit, Michail Lifits, Herbert Schuch and Kit Armstrong.

 Year1st place2nd place3rd placeAudience Prize


Martin Helmchen
Nikolai Tokarew

Stewart GoodyearKyrill GersteinMihaela Ursuleasa

2004Alexei ZouevIgor LevitAlice Sara OttAndrei Banciu


Herbert Schuch

Lukas Vondrávcek

Anna Winnizkaja
Peter Ovtscharov

Joseph Moog
Miroslav Kultyshev


Christian Ihle Hadland
Kit Armstrong

not awardedAlexej GorlachMona Asuka Ott


Vestard Shimkus

Michail LifitsDavid KadouchZhang Hai'ou


Yeol Eum Son

Olga SchepsBenjamin KimClaire Huangci


Kiryl Keduk

Boris KusnezkowKateryna TitovaKiryl Keduk


Behzod Abduraimov

Nareh ArghamanyanAvan YuAlexei Grigorjew


Konstantin Shamray

Adan LaloumPawel KolesnikowPawel Kolesnikow


Magdalena Müllerperth
Da Sol Kim

not awardedBeatrice MagnaniMagdalena Müllerperth


Chi Ho Han

Georgy TchaidzeAurelia ShimkusChi Ho Han


Julian Jia

Niu NiuBoyang ShiJulian Jia


Jorge González

Maxim LandoClayton StephensonJorge González


Elisabeth Brauß

Julian Trevelyan
Thomas Schuch

not awardedNikolay Khozyainov


Emre Yavuz

Sergei RedkinViktor SoosLuisa Imorde


Juan Pérez Floristán

Martin James BartlettŁukasz KrupińskiMartin James Bartlett


Tomoki Sakata

Tiffany PoonRobert NeumannTomoki Sakata


  Sergey Tanin

 Yoav Levanon  Ziyu LiuSergey Tanin