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The Warsaw Voice » Other » December 14, 2005
Chair of The Year 2005
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Piano Bench of the Year
December 14, 2005 By Andrzej Jonas   
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When Rafa³ Blechacz struck the final chords of Frédéric Chopin's Concerto in E Minor, the entire concert hall of the Warsaw Philharmonic exploded in applause. For 30 years Poles had waited for a successor to the great Krystian Zimerman, who in 1975 was the undisputed winner of the Competition and who today is a piano authority recognized worldwide. Blechacz, the undisputed winner of this year's jubilee Chopin Competition, has set off on the same path with extreme modesty and grace, bearing the weight of his talent, numerous awards and his compatriots' expectations lightly.

The Warsaw Voice is giving its award for the 17th time. Each year, we face an enormous dilemma in trying to resolve who deserves the award the most. The Chair of the Year should go to the person, institution or even object who/which has exerted the largest influence on the Polish reality or the feelings of Poles in the passing year. Since we live in a time of transformations, quite naturally the Chair has been awarded to leading politicians a number of times, since they have influenced our lives to the greatest extent. The list of laureates also features entrepreneurs, which is only natural when you think how much economic changes affect our life. We have also acknowledged the special role played by two institutions-the Supreme Court and the Warsaw Stock Exchange-as well as the passenger car, when in 1996 the Polish car market was the most dynamic in Europe. I can say with satisfaction that we have never regretted our choices.

I must admit I have a very special sense of satisfaction this time. Rafa³ Blechacz fulfills all the criteria and has the characteristics which I believe recipients of the Chair of the Year should have. Gifted with an outstanding talent, he is an extremely hard-working individual; he has devoted himself to culture, he is a young man with a magnificent future; he has captured the hearts of Poles and cast a positive light on Poland; he has given us joy and a tide of warm feelings which we so desperately need. Despite the tremendous, international success, he has remained the way he was-he is natural, modest and open. It is hard to adopt such a talented individual as a role model, but it is a happy and optimistic realization to have someone like him among us. Every community needs optimism, Poles are no different.

The year 2005 was a special one in Poland. Parliamentary and presidential elections brought a true tsunami of tensions and emotions. The elections brought victories and defeats, joy and sorrow, hope and despair. They united and divided, they gave rise to alliances and hostile camps. It was without a doubt a year of war. Blechacz and his success took us to a different world-one of beauty, uniting joy and splendid tradition in its contemporary form. It was Blechacz that persuasively reminded us of true values. As an expression of thanks, I hereby award him with the Chair of the Year 2005.

Past recipients of The Warsaw Voice award included Lech Wa³êsa, Leszek Balcerowicz, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, Hanna Suchocka, the Warsaw Stock Exchange, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, the Supreme Court's administration, Labor and Social Security Chamber, the passenger car, Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Roman Kluska, Jerzy Buzek, Bronis³aw Geremek, Aleksander Kwa¶niewski, Adam Ma³ysz, Danuta Hübner, Jerzy Hausner and Marek Belka.

For an interview with Rafa³ Blechacz

Editor-in-Chief Andrzej Jonas


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Andrzej Jonas, founder and editor-in-chief of The Warsaw Voice, commentator on current affairs for the Polish media.
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