Heart and Face of the Federation

Remembering Renate Ronnefeld (1932-2023)

Born in 1932, Renate Ronnefeld grew up in Salzburg and studied the violin. Working as an announcer and department director at the BR (Bayerischer Rundfunk or Bavarian Broadcasting in English), she soon became an iconic figure in the world of music competitions: in 1960 she took over the ARD Music Competition; 1991 she became president of the World Federation of International Music Competitions; a position she held for 9 years, followed by another 9 years as Secretary General. 
On 17 November last year, Renate passed away at the age 91.

Committee Meeting

Committee meeting in 2006, Mandarin Oriental, Geneva
(L-R, front to back): Renate Ronnefeld   Marianne Granvig
Didier Schnorhk  Francesca Zini  Richard Rodzinski  Glen Kwok  Lottie Chalut  Claude Samuel  John Roos
Quinten Peelen  Willie Steyn  Bill Forrest  Linda Anne Engelhardt  Andrew Raeburn

Ma très chère Renate,
We first met in Tel Aviv in 1986, my first participation at a General Assembly of the Federation. We became Friends at the GA in Linz in 1987, where we admired “old” buildings (according to our American members) and “new” buildings (according to Anna, our Greek friend) 😊
Then we enjoyed “tapas” and wonderful flamenco in Santander in 1988 with Paloma and Annelies.
1989: First time the General Assembly was hold outside Europe… in Tokyo upon invitation by Mrs Yasukawa. We tried our first sushi and discovered together a rainy and foggy Japanese countryside: The Mount Fuji (who missed our appointment), a boat tour on a beautiful lake (according to the post cards shown by our guide), and a tour in a ski lift (Swiss made) ! We laughed a lot 😀.
1990: Cowboys (President Dunand and Jasha Bistritzky), horse riding and extra big steaks in Fort Worth Texas.
Then in 1991, you were elected President of the Federation for three years, re-elected two times. Nine years later, when Marianne was taking over the position as President, nobody wanted you to leave, so you were elected Secretary General for nine more years!
We met regularly: “Bureau” meetings, “Committee” meetings, General Assembly meetings - in Geneva and all over the world. “Old” delegates, new delegates, all admired you and loved you. You were always kind, generous, patient and understanding with everybody.
Then in 2009 you said goodbye (on a video conversation).
You had given most of your time for so many years to the Federation! You deserved some years to spend with your daughter Aviva and her friend Pierre, and with your own friends. We were some from the Federation who visited you in Munich, enjoyed a “big” beer at the Oktoberfest and laughed together.
Then you spent some time in « your own world ». 
I’m sure, you still remembered all the friends you made at the Federation and enjoyed the happy years we were so lucky to have together.
Now Renate, rest in Peace!
I will never forget you.
Au revoir! 

Lottie Chalut


Renate Ronnefeld was, for many years, the face of the WFIMC. But she was also its heart, in more ways than one. She firmly believed in the value of sharing experience and learning from one another, and she lived that belief. When, in 1989, Krzysztof Wegrzyn and I were charged with the task of inventing a violin competition in Hannover, Munich was our guiding light. I shall never forget the day in Renate‘s office, her joy that a new German competition was up and coming and the pages and pages of notes I took as she showered me with suggestions, warnings and tips ‘n tricks for making a competition work.
We who had the privilege of working closely with with her in the WFIMC or in Munich know what a great contribution she made to our field. Thank you, Renate. It was a great ride.
Linda Anne Engelhardt, Joseph Joachim Violinwettbewerb Hannover (Founding Executive Director).

Ronnefeld Granvig Terni

It was with the utmost sadness that I received the message of the passing of Renate Ronnefeld.
She was for many years a very central person in the WFIMC, and her contribution to the organisation cannot be overrated. 
She served as a Vice-President and as a President for altogether 18 years, the maximum three terms that the statutes allowed for each of those positions, and when she could no longer be reelected, she became Secretary General. 
When I succeeded Renate as President in 2000, I could benefit from her enormous experience. She mastered the very difficult exercise of sharing knowledge and supporting without ever making me feel that she “knew better”. The warm and close collaboration with Renate and Executive Secretary Lottie Chalut remains one of the very best memories from my 18 years as member of the Bureau.
Renate was a truly remarkable person. From her earliest years, she made a difference as one of the first women to occupy leading positions in an otherwise male dominated field: in Munich with the ARD and with the WFIMC. She did so with grace, respect and authority.
During our many travels around the world and numerous meetings in Geneva, we spent much time together, and we developed a warm friendship. After her retirement from the WFIMC, I visited her in her cosy apartment in Munich several times, latest in 2019, and we even spent a summer holiday in Northern Italy together. Renate was always extremely good company and I am so grateful for her friendship!

Rest in peace, dear Renate!

Marianne Granvig
December 3, 2023

Renate Ronnefeld was an outstanding personality and witness to many significant decisions in the world of international music competitions. She played a major role in building an international reputation for our Geneva-based Federation, and became a role model with her work at the ARD Competition in Munich- compass and benchmark for many of our members.
Personally, I got to know and appreciate her long before my time as a WFIMC member at the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition: in the context of a film documentary about Ferruccio Busoni she found impressive words for the great composer and pianist, emphasizing how important it is for the world of classical music to constantly deal with innovation and debate new things in music. The sharp, alert and critical spirit of Renate Ronnefeld will continue to accompany us in our work and thus will be always remembered in the future.

Peter Paul Kainrath

The WFIMC is a family for many and much of that sentiment is due to the incredible welcoming persona of Renate who was an integral part of the family for decades.  Whether a newcomer or long-time member, Renate was happy to spend time with us and share her wealth of experience.  Through her work with ARD and the Federation, she truly influenced the lives of generations of musicians and all of us who had the privilege to work with her will always be grateful for her generous spirit.
Glen Kwok



RenateRenate Ronnefeld was the very first person we met when we arrived in Munich to register for the ARD Music Competition in 1974. She was very helpful guiding us through the process and scheduling all the details for the four rounds of performances.
Upon our winning the 1st Prize in the category of duo-piano, we received a handful of business cards from music agents, radio producers and concert directors. She took it upon herself to inform these contacts of our planned return to Europe 6 months later. This included radio recordings and performances throughout Germany including a sold-out debut recital at the Cuvielles Theatre in Munich. In attendance was the top critic of the day, Joachim Kaiser, to whom she coordinated with others to invite to the concert. This was a successful and momentous occasion with very positive results for our career.
Over the years, she continued her support, attended many of our concerts in Munich, Salzburg, and at the Strauss Tage in Garmisch.
We will always remain grateful to Renate for taking an active role in launching our career. She was truly an artist’s friend.

Anthony and Joseph Paratore
First Prize, ARD Music Competition 1974



I share with my colleagues of the Federation the sadness for the loss of Renate. She was a great and charismatic President, capable of bringing together numerous competitions and musical personalities and leading them towards today's Federation.

Micaela Pittaluga




Remembering Renate a veritable bouquet of adjectives come to mind – lovely, graceful, caring, considerate, kind, charming, diplomatic, highly capable – in short, a wonderful lady and friend with whom it was always a great pleasure to be with again and again be it in Europe, Asia, America or Africa. I will always think of her with a warm smile.

Richard Rodzinski


For a long time, Renate Ronnefeld was for me the face of the Federation and a kind of « Madame concours de musique » . 
When I had the opportunity to consult the archives of the Federation, Renate was everywhere since the 60s, easily recognizable by her impeccable hairstyle, her studied elegance, her dazzling smile and her confident demeanour ... and often the only woman in a group of very serious gentlemen.
But above all she was the very face of the ARD competition, which she had succeeded in making it one of the most prestigious in the world. That’s why Renate was the first person I visited when I started my job at the Geneva Competition more than 20 years ago. I was young and inexperienced, and I was eager to learn from the best ones. I will always remember the kindness with which she received me, taking the time to answer all my questions, even the most naïve ones. She showed me the competition offices, the official papers, the jury rules, everything I wanted to know. I couldn't believe that a lady with so much experience would take so much time for me: I think she saw it like her duty to pass on her knowledge and experience. 
I've always remembered her as a remarkable lady, a model of education and good manners, a fine musician and a high skilled leader. Renate had music competitions deeply inside her, and her example is still with us today. She will always be remembered.

Didier Schnorhk


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