The Geneva Competition was created in 1939 under the name of "Concours International d'Exécution Musicale" (CIEM). In 1957, it was one of the founding members of the World Federation of International Music Competitions, whose headquarters are located in Geneva.
It was founded by Henri Gagnebin, who was at the time Director of the Geneva Conservatoire and by Frédéric Liebstoeckl, a musician from Vienna who had settled in Geneva. The latter guided the competition as Secretary-General for 40 years, until his death in 1979. He was succeeded by Franco Fisch who held the post until 1998. Didier Schnorhk is currently the third Secretary-General of the Geneva International Music Competition.
Chairmanship of the Board of the Foundation of the Geneva International Music Competition was assumed by Henri Gagnebin from 1939 onwards, followed by Samuel Baud-Bovy, Roger Vuataz, Jean Meylan, Claude Viala, Richard-A. Jeandin, François Duchêne and today by Christine Sayegh.