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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » August 26, 2010
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Chopin Competition Around the Corner
August 26, 2010   
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The International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition, one of the most challenging piano competitions in the world, is due to start in Warsaw for the 16th time Oct. 2. Young pianists from around the world will compete for the title of the world’s best performer of Chopin’s music until Oct. 23.

The competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious music competitions in the world and one of few competitions entirely focusing on the music by just one composer. The first Chopin competition took place in 1927 at the Warsaw Philharmonic. The current organizer, the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute, started preparing this year’s, 16th, competition almost as soon as Poland’s Rafał Blechacz won the 15th Chopin Competition in 2005.

Since 1957, the Chopin competition has been a member of the World Federation of World Music Competitions based in Geneva. The competing pianists are rated by an international panel of judges that is always chaired by outstanding performers of Chopin’s music. In 2000 and 2005, the chairman was Prof. Andrzej Jasiński, a renowned educator and pianist and the teacher of world-famous pianist Krystian Zimerman. This year, Jasiński will chair the panel again.

The Chopin competition, open for pianists aged 17-28, comprises several stages. During the first three stages, the pianists play nocturnes, etudes, ballades, scherzi, polonaises, waltzes, mazurkas and sonatas. In the finals, they have to perform one of Chopin’s two piano concertos.

The 15th Chopin competition in 2005 was held with considerable changes in regulations. For the first time in the competition’s history, all the performers were first required to pass auditions that were held in Warsaw in September, shortly before the competition.

A total of 81 pianists have qualified for this year’s 16th international Chopin competition. Seven of them are Polish. Foreign contestants include favorites from previous competitions, such as Ingolf Wunder, Yuma Osaki, Esther Park and Helene Tysman. The Polish pianists are considered the hope of Polish piano art. Gracjan Szymczak and Jacek Kortus have performed at prestigious festivals and Kortus has released a well-received album with works by Chopin and Liszt. Marek Bracha, a student of Kevin Kenner, is a two-time winner of a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture. Marcin Koziak is the second prize winner of the 2007 Artur Rubinstein in Memoriam competition and has also given a number of concerts abroad. Joanna Różewska, who is studying under Prof. Elżbieta Tarnawska, came in fifth in the 2008 Polish Piano Competition. Paweł Wakarecy attends the class of Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, the teacher of Rafał Blechacz who won the previous Chopin competition in 2005.
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