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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » January 30, 2014
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Award for Top Polish Pianist
January 30, 2014   
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Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, who won the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2005, has received the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award.

Widely regarded as Poland’s most talented young pianist, 28-year-old Blechacz is the second Pole to have won the prize. The Gilmore Artist Award is handed out once every four years by the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in the United States and so far it has been given to seven pianists, including Poland’s Piotr Anderszewski in 2002.

The latest winner was announced Jan. 8 in New York City. Daniel Gustin, the director of the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, said, “Rafał Blechacz stood out to us as a truly distinctive musical figure whose passionate commitment to his art and profound musicianship portend a long and brilliant career.”

The winner of the award receives a total of $300,000, including a $50,000 cash grant to be spent at the artist’s discretion and $250,000 to be spent on career development, including on new instruments and recording sessions.

Born in 1985, Blechacz graduated from the Arthur Rubinstein State Music School in Bydgoszcz, northern Poland, and the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz.

He won the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw at the age of 20, impressing the judges so much that no second prize was awarded. He also became the first winner in the competition’s history to take home all the special prizes available, including the Polish Radio award for the best mazurka performance, the Chopin Society award for the best performance of a polonaise, the National Philharmonic award for the best concerto performance, and an award for the best performance of a sonata. To cap it all, Blechacz also received the audience award.

In 2006, the young pianist signed a five-year contract with the Deutsche Grammophon label and has since released five albums on which he plays pieces by Frederic Chopin, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Claude Debussy, and Karol Szymanowski.

Blechacz has toured Europe, the United States and Japan, receiving enthusiastic reviews wherever he goes. Critics frequently describe him as the world’s most talented pianist under 30. He also won The Warsaw Voice’s 2005 Chair of the Year award.
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