Competitions rules


Composers may be of any nationality, without an age limit, as long as they have one of the following requirements:
- degree in composition
- registration for a course in composition at a Conservatoire or similar Institution
- certificate of participation at one or more master classes in composition

The composition that will be presented at the competition has to be original, and cannot have already been performed in public, published, recorded or awarded in other competitions. The participants have to attach along with the application form, which has to be completed in all of the sections, a declaration stating that the work has all the above-mentioned conditions.
The full score may be hand-written or in electronic form, but must be perfectly legible. It has to be presented on A4 paper. Whoever fails the compilation, without respecting the rules, will be disqualified.
The jury will respect the anonymity of the participants until they have taken their decision.

Art. 2 – WORK

The first edition of the International Competition for Sacred Music Composition Papa Benedetto XVI celebrates the 200th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 2013).
The task of the competition is to compose an Ave Maria for a cappella choir in four part harmony (length between 5 up to 8 minutes), based on the enigmatic scale. Giuseppe Verdi himself used this scale in his Ave Maria in 1898, then included as part of the Quattro Pezzi Sacri. The enigmatic scale has been invented by Adolfo Crescentini and it has been published the 5th of August 1888 in the Milan journal "Gazzetta musicale" as a musical challenge. Many composers such as Adolfo Crescentini, Giuseppe Cerquetelli, Vittorio Norsa, Aldo Forlì responded to the challenge, but Ottorino Varsi’s harmonization, in counterpoint style, gave the inspiration to Giuseppe Verdi.


Enigmatic scale:

Ave, Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.

The composers have to submit:

- Complete score
The participant will mark the score with a freely chosen title or motto which does not give any indication to his/her identity or to his/her work. The composer’s name or signature doesn’t have to appear on the score.
A sealed envelope marked with the same title or motto will contain the documents requested in point 3.



The musical score has to be sent in five copies to the competition secretary.
The entry should contain the copies of the full score and the sealed envelope marked with the same title or motto containing:
• completed competition registration form
• curriculum vitae
• proof of payment of the registration fee of 75,00 euros.
Bank details as follows:
IBAN: IT55J0312403210000000237107
registered in the name of “Accademia Romana dell’Opera Ass. Cult.”, via Gabrio Serbelloni, 78 – 00176 Roma

All entries should be sent by registered mail or courier service to the competition secretary:
I° Concorso Internazionale di Composizione di Musica Sacra Papa benedetto XVI
Via Gabrio Serbelloni, 78
00176 Roma

The registration deadline is set for February 22 2013, with the postmark as proof of the dispatch.

The musical scores and the documents will not be returned to the sender, except in case mentioned in art. 6.


An international jury of outstanding composers, conductors and musicians will evaluate the works.

After the decision about the awards and special mentions, the winners will be personally notified by April 2nd 2013 and the results will be published on the website
The proclamation of winners and the awards ceremony will be the 19th of April 2013 during the gala concert at the Academic Hall of the Pontifical Institution of Sacred Music.

Art. 5 – PRIZES

The following prizes will be provided:

1st prize 2000,00 euros
2nd prize 1000,00 euros
3rd prize 750,00 euros

The Jury may also decide not to award the Prizes, if no one of the compositions will reach the tasks request in point 2.
The Jury’s decisions cannot be appealed. The compositions, not complying with the rules, will not be taken in consideration. The compositions awarded or with special mention can not be performed, published, recorded nor broadcasted before the gala concert. The penalty will be the loss of the award and the title as winner. The organization will decide how to perform and/or publish the works that have not won.
The organization can use all the works sent in, without charge, for public performances, for concerts and for religious events, including in the presence of radio-television broadcasts.



Should causes beyond control prevent the competition from taking place, applications shall be annulled and entry fees refunded.


The composer/author will take charge to register his/her work with the S.I.A.E., Society of Authors and Publishers, and/or with a similar foreigner society.


In case of controversy, the sole competent court is the Court of Rome.


Those rules are translated in many languages but anyway only the original Italian language text is legally valid.

Download in pdf format


All Rights Reserved ® 2012 I° Concorso Internazionale di Composizione di Musica Sacra Papa Benedetto XVI