Competition Rules

  1. The competition is open to young violinists ages 13 to 18 born after July 21, 1998 and before July 13, 2004, and who have not won one of the top three prizes in a previous Cooper competition.
  2. Contestants must assume financial responsibility for travel to and from Cleveland. Shuttles between the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and Oberlin are available.
  3. The signing of the acceptance agreement in the application will constitute acceptance by the contestant of all rules and regulations.
  4. Approximately 24 contestants will be accepted to participate in the competition. Their names will be announced to the public and posted on the Cooper competition website. Listing will include hometown, nationality, age, and repertoire.
  5. All decisions of the jury will be final and not subject to questions, revisions, or appeal.
  6. Prizes may be subject to US income tax laws. In the event of a tie, adjusted cash prizes will be shared by tied winners.
  7. All works are to be performed from memory and in their entirety, except for the Beethoven Sonata.
  8. Participants are expected to perform the works listed on the application form. This repertoire will appear in the competition booklet and website. Any substitutions of repertoire must be received by June 1.
  9. Performance order for the competition will be determined by a drawing on Thursday, July 13 at 7pm that must be attended by all candidates.
  10. If any unexpected situations arise in the execution of these guidelines, the director of the Cooper Competition will resolve such situations.


Prospective competitors must submit the application form that includes a teacher recommendation and $100 entrance fee. You also must upload a video recording and unedited recordings as listed below. Each submitted piece must be recorded continuously (unedited), although each of the four pieces may be recorded individually.

  1. One of the last two movements of a solo sonata by Bach, chosen from BWV 1001, 1003, or 1005, as listed in the requirements for Round I.
  2. The first movement of the chosen concerto from the list provided. Contestants choosing the Shostakovich First Concerto should perform the last movement. This must be the same concerto submitted for the Concerto Round.
  3. A Caprice by Paganini
  4. Any work of the applicant’s choice

All application materials must be submitted by May 1, 2017. Invitations to compete in Oberlin will be sent by May 12.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is funding for travel to the competition available?
A modest travel-assistance fund will be made available to participants on a case-by-case basis.

May I request a specific pianist?
You may not request a specific pianist. This assignment is made by the competition's artistic administration.

May I bring my own pianist?
Semifinalists are strongly encouraged to work with an official pianist. However, violinists are permitted to bring an accompanist at their own expense.

How will I be informed of the name of my collaborative pianist?
Each semifinalist will meet their pianist at the opening meeting on Thursday, July 13 at 7 p.m. The competition will not share the pianist’s name with a semifinalist in advance.

How does the jury remain impartial?
Jurors are recused from voting for participants with whom they have had any past relationship as a primary teacher.

Do I choose repertoire and performance order?

  1. Performers choose the order of required pieces for the Semifinal Round.
  2. The jury chooses repertoire and order for the Recital Finals Round.

Should I play the repeats notated in the music in the competition?

  1. The jury will not hear repeats in Bach or Beethoven in the Semifinal Round.
  2. If the performer would like to perform repeats in the Recital Finals Round, it may be possible depending on the length of the program that is selected by the jury.