2010 European Brass Band Championships - Postcard from Linz


There was plenty to enjoy in Linz, even if the feeling remains that the whole event is perched at something of a crossroads.

The all important silverware

If one thing did stand out after a highly enjoyable weekend in Linz, it was that the European Championships is at a crossroads.


As an organised event it has become a sometimes unwieldy week long Festival – a brass band contest with highly enjoyable add-ons, some of which may need to be pruned off.  

As a musical event it is in danger of becoming a showcase of preening self-aggrandisement – a contest of almost unimaginably pyrotechnic compositions: ‘Shock and awe’ test pieces.

EBBA must decide which way the future lies, and so too must the bands and their conductors.

A great city on the Danube

Four year cycle

Over the next four years the contest will head to Montreux, Rotterdam, Oslo and Perth, and by the end of that four year cycle, heaven knows how the European Championships will look.

Does the European ideal really have to include a Composer’s and Conductor’s Competition and a B Section that offers little other than being an entertaining distraction?

Can EBBA finally link the event into the mainstream of European cultural activity – the huge festivals and showcase city promotions that seem to attract the sponsorship money and the media coverage?

And does the contest really need to become a stage for own choice musical world premieres – a tactic that although well within the current rules does stretch the spirit of them to breaking point at times.  

Nobody has a problem with new works being premiered, but shouldn’t EBBA insist that they are at least published after the closing date for competing bands to tell the organisers what they are playing? At least that would allow the audience to appreciate them a bit more come contest day.

National flavour

Each hosting country brings its own national flavour to the event, so that here in Linz (which was organised by the Austrians with a wonderful friendly professionalism) we had Tyrolean bands and folk dancers, Hans Gansch, Bruckner and an artist called Rupert who got the 650 competitors to screw together pieces of wood with their names on them outside the hall.

It also meant that certain aspects of the organisation of the contest moved a slowly as the River Danube that flowed past the Brucknerhaus Hall. All that was missing from the opening ceremony was for Franz Klammer and Hans Krankl to show up and start drawing the bands out of hat for order of play – it went on for an age.

The results ceremony was a bit of a hit and miss affair too, but at last the full results were displayed for everyone in the hall to see.

Full house?

Then there was the question of what in Austrian terms constitutes a ‘full house’. Prior to the event we were told that all the major events and concerts were sold out, yet there were at times more empty seats to be seen than could be found at a Austrian 3rd Division football match.

The Solo Competition did attract a healthy audience on the Thursday, but the hall was by no means packed on the Friday for the set work (it eventually ended up about three quarters full) or for the own choice selections on the Saturday (although it very nearly reached it when the home town favourites took to the stage).

The Gala Concert was certainly a full house, but with a very liberal approach to ticket inspection and with no reserved seats (except for the VIPs), you did wonder if the organisers had indulged in a touch of spin. Not so they told us, as all tickets (and more) had been sold, but it was customary for audiences here to be selective with their listening habits – hence the ‘wave through’ door staff.  

11 year old Selina Ott


Still, the highlights far outweighed the minor quibbles.

The live streaming from World of Brass was excellent, with Simone Rebello a highly professional and engaging anchorwoman, and whilst they did have the odd glitch, there would be few people who would have complained that it didn’t bring an extra dimension to the contest weekend.

This has been a step into the future for the contest that can only benefit the banding movement all over the world.


The European Youth Brass Band once again provided an opportunity for young players to broaden their horizons and enjoy the European experience, whilst the Solo Competition proved that it is the one ‘add on’ competition that has grown significantly in stature and prestige over the years.

The playing thrilled as always, and whilst Cory left with their name etched into the history books, others, such as the young bands of Valaisia from Switzerland, Concord from Denmark and Bon Accord from Scotland will surely have been enthused by playing at the event.

In four years time we will know just which road the European Championships has taken – and whether or not it remains the most important brass band competition in the world.  

The future is bright for the European – but only if the event can be steered in the right direction.

Iwan Fox


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