The roots of the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition go back more than 100 years to the earliest days of the Hastings Musical Festival, which included piano classes for both Juniors and Seniors.
A look at the archives shows that a 13-year-old Ronald Smith, later renowned as the supreme interpreter of Alkan, won the concerto class as early as 1935 with a brilliant rendition of the first movement of Beethoven’s concerto no. 2 in Bb Major.
In 1946 a Bexhill schoolboy named Philip Ledger won the Under 9 Pianoforte class. He went on to win the Senior Concerto class at the age of 18 in 1955, and among his many professional distinctions, was Director of Music at King’s College Cambridge from 1964-1982 and well known to us all from BBC television’s “Carols at King’s”.
By the early 1990s the concerto class had disappeared altogether, but in 2005 – thanks to the inspiration of another alumnus of the HMF, Jonathan Marten, and the hard work of a hastily assembled Piano Concerto sub-committee – the competition was revived under its new name of Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition.