Leeds International Piano Competition

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Leeds International Piano Competition
Awarded forExceptional piano performance
LocationGreat Hall of the University of Leeds
Leeds Town Hall
(St George's Hall, Bradford in 2024)
CountryUnited Kingdom
Presented byLeeds International Piano Competition
Formerly calledLeeds International Pianoforte Competition
First awarded1963

The Leeds International Piano Competition, informally known as The Leeds and formerly the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition,[1] takes place every three years in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It was founded in 1961 by Marion, Countess of Harewood, Dame Fanny Waterman, and Roslyn Lyons, with the first competition being held in 1963. Waterman was the chair and artistic director up to the 2015 competition when Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse became Co-Artistic Directors. The first round of the competition takes place internationally and in 2021 went 'virtual' when 63 pianists were recorded in 17 international locations and the Jury deliberated online, in order to circumvent the various impacts of Covid. The 2nd round, semi-finals and finals take place in the Great Hall of the University of Leeds and in Leeds Town Hall and in 2018 & 2021 were streamed to a large global audience through medici.tv, achieving over 4.7 million views and listens through multiple channels and platforms, including the BBC, Amadeus.tv (China), Classic FM and Mezzo.tv.

The 21st competition is to take place 11–21 September 2024.[2] It was announced in May 2023 that the finals of the 2024 competition will take place in St George's Hall, Bradford, while Leeds Town Hall undergoes major refurbishment.[3]


2009 competition finals

The competition was first held in September 1963 when the young British pianist, Michael Roll, became the First Prizewinner. It joined the World Federation of International Music Competitions (WFIMC) in 1965.[1] After the 1996 competition, there was a four-year break before the 2000 competition, to align with the turn of the millennium. Competitors were formerly housed at Tetley Hall, a residence hall at the University of Leeds, which closed in 2006 and are still housed in University residences throughout the competition. The University of Leeds is the Principal Partner of the competition and has supported it since its inception.

The list of eminent past Competition winners includes Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia. The roll call of other Competition finalists is equally illustrious as that of the winners and includes Mitsuko Uchida and Sir Andras Schiff (1975), Peter Donohoe (1981), Louis Lortie (1984), Lars Vogt (1990), Denis Kozhukhin (2006) and Louis Schwizgebel (2012). Sofya Gulyak was the first female first prize winner, awarded in 2009.[4]

2021 winner, Alim Beisembayev receiving his Dame Fanny Waterman Gold Medal

Dame Fanny Waterman was the competition's Chair and Artistic Director until her retirement after the 2015 event and she remained Honorary Life President until her death in 2020. She was replaced as artistic director by Paul Lewis (Jury Chair for 2018) and Adam Gatehouse. Gatehouse is now the competition's sole Artistic Director and was joined by Imogen Cooper as Chair of the Jury in 2021.

2018 Competition[edit]

The 2018 competition marked a major refresh to the competition structure:

  • The preliminary round of the competition took place internationally for the first time in Berlin, New York and Singapore.
  • The semi-finalists offered two different recitals (one was chosen by the jury) and included the introduction of chamber music in a new collaborative musicianship feature, working with Bjørg Lewis (cello), Jack Liebeck (violin) and the Elias String Quartet.
  • The concerto finale included five finalists in concert with the Hallé orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner. Finalists offered two concertos, one "classically oriented"[5] and one from the Romantic period or later, and one was selected for performance by the jury.
  • Three main prizes were awarded, as well as the Terence Judd Hallé Orchestra Prize and a new medici.tv audience prize, which was voted for online.
  • A festival programme in Leeds was introduced to bring The Leeds out of the concert hall and into the community.
  • Medici.tv livestreamed all rounds which remain free to view on the competition microsite.
A public piano on Cookridge Street, Leeds designed by artist Rosie Vohra

The prize benefits were redesigned to support the career development of the prizewinners and include mentoring by Paul Lewis and other notable pianists, as well as artist management with Askonas Holt, a recording deal with Warner Classics and a series of international engagements.

A festival programme of masterclasses, talks, educational events and other activities also took place during the competition, including an appearance by Alfred Brendel, free piano lessons in the world's Smallest Concert Hall (a converted shipping container) and the creation of The Leeds Piano Trail across Leeds city centre (pianos for the public to use), supported by The Leeds BID.[6][5]


Alim Beisembayev with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Manze at Leeds Town Hall

The concerto finals have been supported by a number of major UK orchestras over the years including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Hallé. Sir Mark Elder has conducted the Hallé Orchestra at all the finals since 2003, with the exception of 2018 when the conductor was Edward Gardner. Other conductors with long associations with the Competition have included Sir Charles Groves and Sir Simon Rattle. The BBC has broadcast all Competitions since 1966 on television and radio. In 2018 the Competition was streamed live online for the first time with medici.tv. The Terrence Judd Hallé Orchestra Prize, selected and awarded by the orchestra to one of the six finalists, was introduced in 2012. A new partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra was announced in 2019 for the 20th Edition in 2021.

Hallé Orchestra with Sir Mark Elder (2003–2018)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle (1987–2000)

BBC Philharmonic with Sir Vernon Handley (1984)

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic with Sir John Pritchard and Sir Charles Groves (1963–1975) & Andrew Manze (2021)

Prize winners[edit]

Year 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
2021 Kazakhstan Alim Beisembayev*** Japan Kaito Kobayashi** Israel Ariel Lanyi Ukraine Dmytro Choni United Kingdom Thomas Kelly
2018 United States Eric Lu* Germany Mario Häring** China Xinyuan Wang*** — (Finalists: Croatia Aljoša Jurinić Russia Anna Geniushene)
2015 Russia Anna Tsybuleva South Korea Heejae Kim* Ukraine Vitaly Pisarenko United States Drew Petersen Japan Tomoki Kitamura China Yun Wei
2012 Italy Federico Colli Switzerland Louis Schwizgebel China Jiayan Sun Latvia Andrejs Osokins United States Andrew Tyson* Australia Jayson Gillham
2009 Russia Sofya Gulyak Ukraine Alexej Gorlatch Italy Alessandro Taverna France David Kadouch Hong Kong Rachel Cheung China Jianing Kong
2006 South Korea Sunwook Kim United States Andrew Brownell Russia Denis Kozhukhin Hong Kong Alice Wong South Korea Sung-hoon Kim United States Grace Fong
2003 Finland Antti Siirala Uzbekistan Evgenia Rubinova Japan Yuma Osaki Ukraine Igor Tchetuev Taiwan Chiao-Ying Chang United Kingdom/Nigeria Sodi Braide
2000 Italy Alessio Bax Italy Davide Franceschetti Germany Severin von Eckardstein Italy Cristiano Burato United Kingdom Ashley Wass Russia Tatiana Kolesova
1996 Russia Ilya Itin Italy Roberto Cominati Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Aleksandar Madžar China Sa Chen Armenia Armen Babakhanian Israel Ekaterina Apekisheva
1993 Brazil Ricardo Castro United Kingdom Leon McCawley United States Mark Anderson Italy Filippo Gamba Russia Maxim Philippov Russia Margarita Shevchenko
1990 Portugal Artur Pizarro Germany Lars Vogt France Éric Le Sage Hungary Balázs Szokolay South Korea Haesun Paik Soviet Union Andrei Zheltonog
1987 Soviet Union Vladimir Ovchinnikov Australia Ian Munro Japan Noriko Ogawa Soviet Union Boris Berezovsky Republic of Ireland Hugh Tinney United States Marcantonio Barone
1984 Canada Jon Kimura Parker South Korea Ju Hee Suh Japan Junko Otake Canada Louis Lortie United States David Buechner Bulgaria Emma Tahmizian
1981 United Kingdom Ian Hobson Germany Wolfgang Manz France Bernard d'Ascoli United States Daniel Blumenthal United States Christopher O'Riley United Kingdom Peter Donohoe
1978 France Michel Dalberto Brazil Diana Kacso United States Lydia Artymiw United Kingdom Ian Hobson United Kingdom Kathryn Stott Japan Etsuko Terada
1975 Soviet Union Dmitri Alexeev Japan Mitsuko Uchida Joint 3rd prize:[7]
Hungary András Schiff
France Pascal Devoyon
Joint 4th prize:[7]
New Zealand Michael Houstoun
United States Myung-whun Chung
1972 United States Murray Perahia United States Craig Sheppard United States Eugen Indjic
1969 Romania Radu Lupu France Georges Pludermacher Brazil Arthur Moreira Lima Soviet Union Boris Petrushansky France Anne Queffélec
1966 Spain Rafael Orozco Joint 2nd prize:
Soviet Union Viktoria Postnikova
Soviet Union Semyon Kruchin
Soviet Union Alexey Nasedkin[7] France Jean-Rodolphe Kars
1963 United Kingdom Michael Roll Soviet Union Vladimir Krainev France Sebastien Risler United States Armenta Adams

* Winner of the Terence Judd–Hallé Orchestra Prize.[8][9][10]

** Winner of the Yaltah Menuhin Award.[10]

*** Winner of the medici.tv Audience Award.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Leeds International Piano Competition". World Federation of International Music Competitions. 20 February 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  2. ^ "The Leeds International Piano Competition". app.getacceptd.com. Acceptd. Retrieved 16 July 2023.
  3. ^ "Bradford to host next Leeds International Piano Competition Finals". Leeds International Piano Competition. 25 May 2023. Retrieved 16 July 2023.
  4. ^ Andrew Clements (14 September 2016), "Leeds International Piano competition final – first prize for Anna Tcybuleva, not the obvious choice", The Guardian, retrieved 3 January 2017
  5. ^ a b Paul Lewis (18 October 2016), "Paul Lewis: how we're transforming 'the Leeds' to nurture tomorrow's pianists", The Guardian, retrieved 2 January 2017
  6. ^ 'New Vision' announced for 2018 Competition, Leeds International Piano Competition, 18 October 2016, archived from the original on 3 January 2017, retrieved 2 January 2017
  7. ^ a b c "Previous Winners". Leeds International Pianoforte Competition 2006. Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  8. ^ James McCarthy (18 September 2012), "Leeds International Piano Competition 2012 Winner Announced", Gramophone, retrieved 3 January 2017
  9. ^ Heejae Kim piano, Leeds International Piano Competition, 5 April 2016, archived from the original on 3 January 2017, retrieved 3 January 2017
  10. ^ a b c "And the Winner Is… | Leeds International Piano Comp". www.leedspiano.com. Retrieved 22 September 2018.

External links[edit]