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International Chopin Piano Competition

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International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition
Current: XVIII International Chopin Piano Competition
The National Philharmonic during the 2005 competition
VenueNational Philharmonic, Warsaw
Presented byFryderyk Chopin Institute
First awarded1927; 97 years ago (1927)
Last awarded2021

The International Chopin Piano Competition (Polish: Międzynarodowy Konkurs Pianistyczny im. Fryderyka Chopina), often referred to as the Chopin Competition, is a piano competition held in Warsaw, Poland. It was initiated in 1927 and has been held every five years since 1955. The competition is one of the founding members of the World Federation of International Music Competitions. It is also one of the few competitions devoted entirely to the works of a single composer,[1] in this case, Frédéric Chopin. The competition is currently organized by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute.[2]

The Chopin Competition is one of the most prestigious competitions in classical music, often launching the careers of its winners overnight through major concert dates and lucrative recording contracts. Past winners have included Maurizio Pollini (1960), Martha Argerich (1965), Krystian Zimerman (1975), Yundi Li (2000), Rafał Blechacz (2005) and Seong-Jin Cho (2015). The most recent winner has been Bruce Liu of Canada in 2021. Yundi Li is the most well known for being the youngest first prize winner[3] and the youngest juror in the competition's history.[4]


3rd Chopin Competition (1937). Among members of the jury (sitting on the left) Heinrich Neuhaus, Emil von Sauer, Guido Agosti, and Wilhelm Backhaus

The competition was initiated by Polish pianist and pedagogue Jerzy Żurawlew, who began seeking funds for a piano competition in 1925, influenced by Aleksander Michałowski. Żurawlew recalled later: "Young people at that time, not long after the end of the Great War, were taking a keen interest in sports. They were dyed-in-the-wool realists in their outlook on life. I would often hear that Chopin was excessively romantic, that he enervated the soul and weakened the psyche. Some went so far as to discourage the inclusion of Chopin as required repertoire in music schools. All that showed a fundamental lack of understanding, which I found very painful... As I watched young people’s enthusiasm for sporting achievement, I finally hit upon a solution: a competition! Here was a format to bring tangible advantages to young performers of Chopin in the form of monetary prizes and an international performing career."[5]

Gathering funds for the competition proved to be a difficult task. As Żurawlew remembered in later years: "I met with utter incomprehension, indifference and even aversion. The opinion among musicians was unanimous: Chopin is so great that he can defend himself. At the Ministry, it was announced that there were no funds for it [...] and that the whole idea was unfeasible". In this difficult situation, help arrived from Henryk Rewkiewicz — a businessman, music lover and board member of The Warsaw Music Society, who offered his personal financial guarantees to cover the entire deficit expected to arise from the first Competition.[6]

Many years later Jerzy Żurawlew wrote, “[…] I was greatly helped by my friend Henryk Rewkiewicz, director of the Match Monopoly, who offered 15,000 złoty - a substantial sum at the time - for the Competition”.[7] Ultimately, things picked up with the election of a new Polish president Ignacy Mościcki, who became the patron of the Chopin Competition.[8]

Subsequent editions were organized in 1932 and 1937; the post-war fourth and fifth editions were held in 1949 and 1955. In 1957 the competition became one of the founding members of the World Federation of International Music Competitions in Geneva.[9]

The pre-war editions of the competition as well as three editions after World War II (1955, 1960, 1965) were held in winter, close to the date of Chopin's birth – 22 January. However, due to repeated cases of jurors and competitors falling sick in this period, the organizers decided that the competition be held in October, the month in which Chopin died.[10]

The 1980 edition of the Chopin Piano Competition was marked by controversy over the elimination of Ivo Pogorelić, who was seen as one of the favourites, in the third round of the competition. This prompted juror Martha Argerich to resign from the jury in protest, calling Pogorelić a "genius". Her action was supported by two other jurors, who declared that it was "unthinkable that such an artist should not make it to the finals". Other judges spoke out about their disapproval of what they considered Pogorelić's eccentricities.[11][12][13]

Traditionally, during the competition on 17 October – the day of Chopin's death – a solemn mass is celebrated in the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, during which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem is performed in accordance with the wishes of the composer.[14][15]

In 2018, the Chopin Institute organized the inaugural I International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments.

The XVIII International Chopin Piano Competition, originally scheduled for 2020, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and took place in 2021 instead.[16]


The jury has been chaired by:

Prize winners[edit]

The laureates of the Chopin International Piano Competition:[25][26]

Top 3 prize-winners at each Edition
Edition 1st 2nd 3rd
I (1927) Lev Oborin
 Soviet Union
Stanisław Szpinalski
Róża Etkin
II (1932) Alexander Uninsky (c)
 Soviet Union
Imre Ungár (c)
Bolesław Kon
III (1937) Yakov Zak
 Soviet Union
Rosa Tamarkina
 Soviet Union
Witold Małcużyński
IV (1949) Bella Davidovich
 Soviet Union
Barbara Hesse-Bukowska
Waldemar Maciszewski
Halina Czerny-Stefańska
 Poland (tie)
V (1955) Adam Harasiewicz
Vladimir Ashkenazy
 Soviet Union
Fou Ts'ong
VI (1960) Maurizio Pollini
Irina Zaritskaya
 Soviet Union
Tania Achot-Haroutounian
VII (1965) Martha Argerich
Arthur Moreira Lima
Marta Sosińska
VIII (1970) Garrick Ohlsson
 United States
Mitsuko Uchida
Piotr Paleczny
IX (1975) Krystian Zimerman
Dina Joffe
 Soviet Union
Tatyana Fedkina
 Soviet Union
X (1980) Dang Thai Son
Tatyana Shebanova
 Soviet Union
Arutyun Papazyan
 Soviet Union
XI (1985) Stanislav Bunin
 Soviet Union
Marc Laforet
Krzysztof Jabłoński
XII (1990) Not awarded Kevin Kenner
 United States
Yukio Yokoyama
XIII (1995) Not awarded Philippe Giusiano
Gabriela Montero
Alexei Sultanov
 Uzbekistan (tie)
XIV (2000) Yundi Li
Ingrid Fliter
Alexander Kobrin
XV (2005) Rafał Blechacz
Not awarded Dong-Hyek Lim
 South Korea
Dong-Min Lim
 South Korea (tie)
XVI (2010) Yulianna Avdeeva
Lukas Geniušas
 Russia  Lithuania
Daniil Trifonov
Ingolf Wunder
 Austria (tie)
XVII (2015) Seong-Jin Cho
 South Korea
Charles Richard-Hamelin
Kate Liu
 United States
XVIII (2021) Bruce Liu
Kyohei Sorita
Martín García García
Alexander Gadjiev
 Italy  Slovenia (tie)
XIX (2025) to be determined

Traditional special awards at the competition include the Polish Radio prize for the best mazurka performance (since 1927), the Fryderyk Chopin Society in Warsaw prize for the best polonaise (since 1960), and the National Philharmonic prize for the best performance of a piano concerto (since 1980).

Medal table[edit]

Chopin Competition Medal Table
1 Soviet Union56213
2 Poland42713
3 Russia1124
 United States1124
5 Argentina1102
8 South Korea1023
9 China1012
10 Vietnam1001
11 Japan0213
12 France0202
13 Austria0101
19 Iran0011
Totals (20 entries)17231959

Note: Medals were only awarded after 1975. In this table, winner of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Prize prior to 1975 are included as having won Gold, Silver, and Bronze respectively.

In popular culture[edit]

The Chopin Competition is a major plot device in the Japanese manga series Forest of Piano, serialized from 1998 to 2015 and adapted as an anime from 2018 to 2019. It follows the story of pianist Kai Ichinose, who ultimately wins the Chopin Competition.[27] Creator Makoto Isshiki was inspired to write the series when she watched a documentary showing Stanislav Bunin winning the XI International Chopin Piano Competition.[28] In 2023, a documentary film Pianoforte directed by Jakub Piątek shows the realities of the Chopin Piano Competition through exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and is set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition". Culture.pl. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  2. ^ Website Archived 3 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine of the International Chopin Competition, accessed 7 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Winner of Chopin Competition 2000: Yundi Li - first time in California". Polish Music Center. Archived from the original on 13 June 2022. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  4. ^ "Chinese Pianist Li Yundi to Join Jury Panel of International Chopin Piano Competition". yibada. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2023.
  5. ^ Michalski, Grzegorz. "How did it all start?" (PDF). Chopin Courier. No. 2. Warsaw: Fryderyk Chopin Institute. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 October 2021. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  6. ^ "Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina, Henryk Rewkiewicz". chopin.nifc.pl. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  7. ^ Żurawlew, Jerzy. "Cel osiągnięty". Stolica. 1970 nr. 42, translated by Elżbieta Sozańska.
  8. ^ "I International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition". Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  9. ^ "The Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition". culture.pl. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  10. ^ "Konkurs Chopinowski w cieniu kontrowersji. Największe skandale". onet.pl (in Polish). 22 October 2021. Retrieved 12 October 2023.
  11. ^ "The 10th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition". Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  12. ^ Georg Predota (20 October 2022). "On This Day 20 October: Ivo Pogorelichh Was Born". interlude.hk. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  13. ^ Tom Huizenga (22 August 2022). "A Confrontation With Music: Ivo Pogorelich's First Album In 21 Years". npr.org. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  14. ^ "Requiem Mozarta dla Chopina w Bazylice Św. Krzyża" (in Polish). Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  15. ^ "Konkurs Chopinowski. Historyczne zmagania konkursowe członków jury" (in Polish). 5 October 2021. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  16. ^ "The 18th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition postponed till 2021". Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  17. ^ "1st International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition". Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  18. ^ "2nd International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition". Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  19. ^ "4th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition". Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  20. ^ "8th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition". Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  21. ^ "10th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition". Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  22. ^ "11th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition". Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  23. ^ "Konkurs Chopinowski. Nie myj rąk w śniegu!". Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  24. ^ "Jurors". Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  25. ^ "Past Prize Winners". Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  26. ^ "Międzynarodowy Konkurs Pianistyczny im. Fryderyka Chopina". Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  27. ^ Takahashi, Hara (Autumn 2019). "The Quest for Selfhood in Manga and the Spirituality of Contemporary Japanese" (PDF). Dharma World. 46: 7–9.
  28. ^ "2008 Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division Grand Prize PIANO NO MORI". Japan Media Arts Festival. Archived from the original on 12 February 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  29. ^ Stuart Dowell. "Intimate coming-of-age documentary revealing harsh realities of Chopin Piano Competition to premiere at Sundance Film Festival". thefirstnews.com. Retrieved 17 January 2023.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]