The origins of the Stasys Vainiūnas Competition go back to the competitions for young performers, held biannually in Vilnius from 1965, with the Piano Department of the Lithuanian State Conservatory as principal organizer Stasys Vainiūnas, celebrated Lithuanian composer, wonderful concert pianist, and pedagogue was one of the initiators of these competitions. He was Lithuania‘s first international competition laureate. In 1993 he won eighth place (out of 252 pianists) in Vienna, and earned an honorary diploma and the right to be called a laureate. In seeking to perpetuate his memory and to popularize the legacy of his works, the Republic of Lithuania awarded Stasys Vainiūnas‘ name to a young pianists‘ competition. The first national Stasys Vainiūnas competition for pianists from tertiary and secondary art schools took place in 1989; the second national competition for young performers took place in 1991 – in his memory. The competition took on international status in 1993, and was then organized by the Ministry of Culture and Education of the Republic of Lithuania; as of 1996, it has been organized by the Ministry of Culture.
Starting in 2006 the Competition is open to pianists and chamber ensembles. The International Vainiūnas Competition is affiliated with the Alink-Argerich Foundation since 2011.