The world’s best pianists gather in Poland for the Chopin competition


Fans of classical music hosted this week in Warsaw, Poland, the 18th edition of the prestigious Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition.

More than 400 candidates from almost all continents compete every five years in a competition performing the works of the Polish virtuoso.

Fans had originally planned his return in October 2020, but authorities pushed back the competition for a year after social distancing requirements barred the usual crowds of fans from attending auditions at the Warsaw National Philharmonic, which s ‘extend over several weeks.

The inaugural gala concert saluting his return last Saturday featured Cho and other previous finalists and winners – Yulianna Avdeeva, Philippe Giusiano, Kevin Kenner and Dang Thai Son – in piano works by Johan Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Robert Schumann.

The first edition took place in 1927 and then every five years, but World War II forced a postponement of the 4th edition until 1949.

The competition is a career for many budding Chopins

The competition is renowned for launching global careers for its winners and finalists. Its only provision is that each entry be centered on the works of Frédéric Chopin.

Chopin grew up in Warsaw at the start of the 19th century and was considered one of the earliest celebrities in music. He wrote primarily for solo piano but produced two concertos, considered the most accomplished pieces of his career. He died in Paris at the age of 39, but his heart remains at the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw.

In fact, there will be no competition auditions on October 17th to allow participants and the jury to attend the traditional celebrations for the anniversary of Chopin’s death which include a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus’ “Requiem”. Mozart at Holy Cross Church.

How does the competition work?

Successful participants take part in three stages of solo piano performances, the best of which leads to promotion to a higher stage, and the final stage where the few finalists play one of Chopin’s two concertos with the orchestra.

Concerts for 87 participants from around the world – from South Korea to the United States – begin Sunday morning with a performance by Xuanyi Mao from China. The 17-member international jury includes former winners and finalists. Absent from the jury this year will be the Brazilian Nelson Freire and the Argentinian Martha Argerich.

What is the price?

The winner receives a gold medal and a prize of 40,000 euros ($ 45,000) and prestigious recording and concert contracts. The winner announcement is expected to take place on October 20.

Past laureates include Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson from the United States, Pole Krystian Zimerman and Artur Blechacz and Seong-Jin Cho from South Korea.

The auditions can be followed live on the Chopin Institute YouTube channel and on the Polish State Radio channel.


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