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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » November 30, 2010
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When the Music’s Over
November 30, 2010   
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“It is late evening, Wednesday, Oct. 20. The name of the winner of the 16th International Piano Competition is announced. Silence. A groan of disappointment. Disbelief. Perfunctory clapping here and there....”

Austrian pianist Ingolf Wunder, runner-up in the 16th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, talks to Dominik Skurzak.

You were one of the favorites to win this year’s competition. How did you feel after the judges announced their verdict that night and it turned out that you came in second? Were you disappointed? How long does it take for a pianist to reset their mind after a tough competition like this?
Well, as you said, this is definitely one of the hardest competitions there is, especially for the prizewinners. Because after the exhausting month of playing at the Philharmonic, the work doesn’t stop. Due to the huge number of offers, you continue playing for several weeks after the event and that’s even more exhausting. But we are young pianists and we can handle it.

I think when the December holidays are here, I will be fully reset and regenerated for the Japan tour with Maestro Wit and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.

Did you congratulate the winner, Yulianna Avdeeva of Russia?
Unfortunately, we didn’t have that much contact yet but when I had the opportunity to talk to her husband, I of course congratulated them. All the participants did a great job this year and as a result the level was extremely high. I’m proud to have been playing at this year’s competition.

You are a well-known pianist in Poland. Are you equally well known in your native Austria?
I haven’t been to Austria since the competition so I’m very much looking forward to my concert in the Wiener Musikverein on Nov. 24. Then I most probably will see and feel the response of my homeland.

Though, it’s a pity that there are not many press articles about the Chopin competition in Austria in general. Somehow it took an Austrian prizewinner, the first since 1932, to draw the Austrian press’ attention to the Chopin Competition.

But now of course there are several articles about what went on in Warsaw. That’s very good! Chopin and his music deserve that.

More than a month has passed since the competition. What are your plans now? Are you planning on churning out concerts one after another to take advantage of your window of opportunity and strike while the iron’s hot? Or will you decide not to overdo it, like Rafał Blechacz—the Polish pianist who won the previous Chopin competition in 2005—in order to preserve the delicate balance between steady professional growth and a madcap performing schedule?
The most important thing in my life is my music and my art. And it’s very easy to hurt your playing if you play too much. There are of course a lot of offers and I will play as much as I can to share my music with my beloved audience. But I will definitely not play too many concerts, because that would destroy me as an artist and this is something I want to prevent at any cost. Every time I play, I want it to be something special for the people and you can only achieve that if you don’t play too much.

I will present myself in Poland in almost every major concert hall in 2011, to thank my Polish audience for their tremendous support, and also in Japan, Germany, Austria, Norway, Spain and France there are concerts planned this year.
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