The International Chopin Piano Competition begins

Martin Cullingford5th Oct 2010
Korean pianist Soo Jung Ann (photo: Sadowski and Grendzinski / NIFC)Korean pianist Soo Jung Ann takes a bow (photo: Bartek Sadowski and Wojciech Grendzinski / NIFC)

The 16th International Chopin Piano competition opened in Warsaw this weekend. The competition, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the world, was launched in 1927 and is now held every five years. This year's Competition, which is particularly significant as 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of Chopin's birth, features young 78 pianists competing from more than 20 countries. The first round of auditions run from 3-7 October, with the concerto finals set for 18-20 October and prize-winners' concerts taking place until 23 October.

Past prize-winners include such names as Martha Argerich, Maurizio Pollini, Krystian Zimerman and Mitsuko Uchida. The 2005 competition was notably won by the Polish Rafał Blechacz, who was also the only winner of the First Prize in 15 years, after it was not awarded at the 1995 and 2000 competitions. This year's 12-strong jury consists of distinguished international pianists and teachers including Nelson Freire, Martha Argerich, Philippe Entremont, Bella Davidovich and Fou Ts'ong.

The Competition calendar also features recitals from Mitsuko Uchida, Nelson Freire and Martha Argerich, and two performances of the Mozart Requiem from the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées and Warsaw Philharmonic Choir, conducted by Philippe Herreweghe.

A bilingual Polish-English daily paper, the Chopin Gazette, is being distributed throughout Warsaw for the duration of the event, and includes daily reports from the competition stage as well as a free CD of each day's most notable performances. Gramophone is the exclusive UK media partner of the competition, and our special project editor Emma Baker will be blogging live with updates on the progress of the competition at Chopin Competition Live!

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