The Chopin Competition in pictures

The Chopin Competition is the most important musical event in Poland and one of the most important musical events in the world. Apart from its huge role in popularising Chopin's music, it discovers the greatest pianistic talents, providing young musicians with the most effective start in their international career. It is a source of multicultural polarisation, which the world observes in various interpretations of the music of the brilliant composer.

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The first Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw took place in 1927 and was founded on the initiative of Professor Jerzy Żurawlew, a Polish pianist and educator. The Competition was organised by the Warsaw Music Society, with the President of the Republic of Poland, Ignacy Mościcki, as the patron. The Competition was held at the Warsaw Philharmonic. It was attended by 26 pianists from eight countries. The winner was the phenomenal Soviet Lev Oborin, the future permanent artistic partner of the legendary violinist David Oistrakh. Second prize was awarded to one of the most outstanding Polish pianists Stanisław Szpinalski. Among the distinguished ones was Dmitri Shostakovich, who was the first pianist to have all Chopin's works with orchestra in his repertoire. The competition was to be organized every five years. There were two more editions before World War II: in 1932 the winner was Aleksander Uninsky and in 1937 Jakov Zak (third prize went to Witold Małcużyński). The first competition after the war took place in 1949, and its triumphant winners were ex aequo two great female pianists: Halina Czerny-Stefańska and Bella Davidovich. Then, exceptionally, due to the reconstruction of the National Philharmonic, there was a six-year break, and in 1955 three great pianists triumphed: Adam Harasiewicz, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Fou Ts'ong, who also received the award for best performance of the mazurkas. The names of the subsequent winners, like their predecessors, belong to the pantheon of world pianism: Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson, Krystian Zimerman, Stanislav Bunin, Dang Thai Son, Kevin Kenner, Philippe Giusiano, Yundi Li, Rafał Blechacz, Yulianna Avdeeva and the winner of the last Competition – Seong-Jin Cho. The competition has also opened the way to an international career for many other prize winners (Mitsuko Uchida, Ingrid Fliter, Gabriela Montero, Ingolf Wunder, Daniil Trifonov), as well as pianists who only received special prizes; it is worth mentioning such personalities as Ivo Pogorelic, Nelson Goerner, Angela Hewitt, Christian Zacharias, Emanuel Ax, and others. Among the pianists whose talent was discovered at the Competition there are many internationally recognized Polish pianists, such as Władysław Kędra, Ryszard Bakst, Regina Smendzianka, Barbara Hesse-Bukowska, Jerzy Godziszewski, Marta Sosińska, Janusz Olejniczak, Wojciech Świtała, Ewa Pobłocka, Krzysztof Jabłoński, Szymon Nehring...

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The fame and prestige of the Chopin Competition are undoubtedly created by its Jurors (including honorary jurors), special guests and members of honorary committees – they have included the most distinguished representatives of world culture of the 20th and 21st century, among others: Witold Maliszewski, Aleksander Michałowski, Henryk Melcer, Karol Szymanowski, Marguerite Long, Maurice Ravel, Witold Lutosławski, Bruno Seidlhofer, Nadia Boulanger, Wilhelm Backhaus, Artur Rubinstein, Carlo Zecchi, Arturo Benedetti-Michelangeli, Stefan Askenase, Dmitri Kabalevsky, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Paul Badura-Skoda, Nikita Magaloff, Mieczysław Horszowski, Kazimierz Kord, Nelson Freire, Mirosław Bałka, Norman Davies, Krzysztof Penderecki, JIri Kylian, Andrzej Wajda and Tomas Venclova.

The Chopin Competition confirms the timelessness of the music of the brilliant Polish composer, from the very beginning it is far more than just a music tournament of the highest level. Attracting a growing number of pianistic talents from all over the world (452 entries in 2015, more than 500 in 2020!), it draws the attention of not only the international music community and music lovers, but also those who have little contact with classical music on a daily basis. In Poland it is a kind of national holiday, a headline event; on a global scale it is one of the most important music events. The 21st century is changing our way of life, perception of reality, expectations and interpersonal relations at a dizzying pace. Undoubtedly, it is a great challenge for any offer of so-called high culture, while at the same time giving more and more opportunities to participate in it – also to individuals and whole social groups who have been deprived of it so far. The competition uses the latest technologies in a thoughtful way, which will result, among others, in the first ever VR transmissions. The whole event is broadcasted on the radio and TV, it can be watched in streaming technology, followed in social media and by means of a dedicated application. Impressive statistics of the broadly understood turnout from previous editions show that interest in the Competition is constantly growing.

The Jury of the 18th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition will include eminent artists, distinguished experts and excellent educators. They will select those who will contribute to the shape of the musical world over the coming decades. For it is all about music: its value, beauty and what it brings to life for all of us. This is what it is worth fighting for - and cheering on.

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This public task is co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland as part of  "Public Diplomacy 2020 - a new dimension" programme.

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