The competitors were chosen from 270 pianists who submitted written applications; of those, 147 were asked to audition for a traveling panel of judges. Competition officials had originally planned to include 30 pianists in its final round. According to a statement, additional slots were added because of the high quality of auditions.
The pianists come from 13 countries. China will send the eight competitors, the most from any one country. For the first time in the competition's history, women outnumber men; seven of China's eight competitors are women. The pianists range in age from 19 to 30.
Yoheved Kaplinsky, one of the 12 jurors for the competition, has stepped down because seven of her pupils were chosen to participate, competition officials said. Kaplinsky will not be replaced.
"I regretfully feel I must step down from the jury," said Kaplinsky, the chair of the Juilliard piano department, in a statement. "I believe it is in the best interests of the competition for me to do so."
The quadrennial competition was founded in 1962, four years after pianist Van Cliburn stunned the classical music world by winning the Tchaikovsky International Competition—he is still the only American to have done so—and is held in his hometown.