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In the 1960s, the national youth music competitions of Belgium, France and West Germany started working together, at first by exchanging prize winners for international concerts. An outstanding musician from France, for example, might be invited to play in Belgium, either as part of the national competition there, or independently of it. This lead to the foundation, by these three countries, of the 'European Union of National Music Competitions for Youth' in Brussels on 9th November 1970.

In the 1970s and 80s, a further fourteen national competitions joined EMCY and took part in regular conferences and General Assemblies, broadening the possibilities we were able to offer young musicians, and reaching new corners of the continent. As well as being promoted by EMCY, giving international concerts and taking part in our projects, successful young musicians were able to participate in EMCY’s yearly pan-European competition, the European Music Prize for Youth.

At the General Assembly in Ljubljana (Slovenia) in 1992, it was decided that international youth music competitions could become EMCY members (hence the change in our name!), and EMCY’s membership continued to grow, with international competitions eventually becoming more numerous than national ones.

From its foundation until 1997, EMCY was based in Brussels, hosted by the bank Credit Communal de Bélgique. Since 1997, however, the EMCY Office has been located in Munich (Germany), where it is hosted by the German Music Council and its competition Jugend musiziert. At the General Assembly in Oslo (Norway) in 1998, changes were made to the statutes and administration of EMCY in order for us to become a registered association under German Law.

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