Can You Win an Olympic Medal for Music?

If you heard that painting, music, sculpture, literature and architecture competitions were part of the Olympics, you might assume that I was talking about Ancient Greece. However, from 1912 to 1948, these were categories in the Olympic Games.

Walter Winans was an American who won the first gold medal for sculpture in the 1912 Stockholm Summer Olympics. The winning piece was cast bronze sculpture featuring a horse and chariot. During the next four years, 151 medals were handed out for artistic pieces that were inspired by sports and athletics.

Works of literature were divided into the categories of poetry, drama and lyrical pieces. Musical pieces had to be performed within one hour. No professional artists were allowed to enter the competition. Therefore, many of the winners were amateurs and lesser-known creatives.

Over the years, the regulations that prohibited professionals from entering the Olympic games evolved. Today, professional athletes are allowed to participate in the Olympics. However, it seems as though officials did not want to extend accommodations for professionals to the arts categories.

The arts competitions were never quite as well-attended as the sporting events, and they eventually fell to the wayside. After 1948, a parallel art festival was held on the Olympic grounds during the event. Although some attempts have been made to reintroduce arts competitions to the Olympics, these categories have not been included since 1948.