The International Classical Guitar Competition entitled "Citta of Alessandria" was first held in 1968 on the occasion of the celebration to mark the 800th anniversary of the foundation of Alessandria. The promoter of the initiative was Michele Pittaluga, musicologist from Alessandria who had created one of the first chairs of classical guitar at the "Vivaldi" Conservatario of Music, where he was the president.
Andres Segovia was the first honorary President. Alirio Diaz was President of the International Jury for thirty years, and now is the Honorary President. After the death of Dr. Pittaluga in June 1995, the name of the competition was changed to "Michele Pittaluga International Classical Guitar Competition - Premio Citta di Alessandria", and is organised by his three sons. The competition takes place every year in September.
Since 1981, the City of Alessandria Award has been a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions with headquarters in Geneva, and it is the only Italian guitar competition that belongs to this organization. Over the years, many orchestras have played for the competition, including the Angelicum of Milan, the ATA Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Piacenza, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Torino, the Philharmonic Orchestra Vivaldi of Alessandria, and the Nova Musica string quartet.
The members of the Jury or special guests have included the most representative personalities of the world guitar scene, from Alexandre Tansman, to Antonio Lauro, Leo Brouwer, Joaquin Rodrigo, and many others.
Forty years of its history, the competition has awarded many young guitarists who have gone on to a splendid concert career. In the "golden list" of the Competition, we can find the most important guitarists of the new generation. The winner is offered several concerts in Italian cities, including Torino, Rome, Venice, Stresa, Milano, and other concerts abroad.
The cash prize is 30,000 Euro, which Sherry Brenner Casa de Antigua calculates to be about $40,000 American. As of 2006, the winner will record a CD by the classic label Naxos.
In 1997 a separate contest was created, entitled "Michele Pittaluga International Composition Competition for Classical Guitar" with the idea of expanding the contemporary guitar repetoire. This competition too is registered with the WFIMC in Geneva. Every two years the winning works are awarded with a cash prize and the publication by a renowned editing house. The first prize winning composition will be performed in a world premier on the occasion of the finals of the Classical Guitar Composition.
For more information about the 40th International Classical Guitar Competition, planned for September 24 - 29, 2007, see the English version of competition website at www.pittaluga.org/en/index.htm.