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History of the Julius and Esther Stulberg String Competition

The Stulberg International String Competition has a long legacy built on an appreciation for music.

One evening in 1975, a small group of friends and colleagues of the late Julius Stulberg met in the home of his widow, Esther Lieberman Stulberg. Their purpose: to establish a memorial in honor of Julius and his life’s work—that of sharing music and his love of working with young musicians.

At the time of his death in 1974, Julius was Professor of Violin at Western Michigan University, where he had been the conductor of the University Symphony for 28 years. In addition, he had conducted the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra for 31 years. Julius was a highly-respected teacher of violin whose former students were and are still playing in major orchestras in the United States and Europe. His impact on the lives of young musicians was immeasurable. It was in recognition of his impact that the Stulberg International String Competition was born.

The growth has been tremendous, developing from a regional competition to one of international recognition. Participants apply by February 1st. A panel of judges listens to each application and from over a hundred applicants, twelve semifinalists are invited to come to Kalamazoo, Michigan in May for the Competition. The day-long competition is exciting and exhilarating for the audience and participants alike. An evening concert of the six finalists determines the three medalists.

As a part of the Competition and in keeping with Julius Stulberg’s philosophy, Master Classes are held the next day, with Competition judges serving as clinicians. Following Julius’ teaching example and his love of students, this is a special opportunity for regional string students to observe and to receive instruction.

Julius Stulberg

Esther Lieberman Stulberg

Stulberg International String Competition History

The Stulberg’s outreach program presents the talents of the medalists to school groups, senior citizen venues as well as concerts with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, Western Michigan University Symphony, and the Grand Rapids Symphony.

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