The stage is set: Final preparations take place as world’s best pianists descend on Warsaw for 18th International Fryderyk Chopin Competition
The best pianists from all over the world have descended on Warsaw to battle for the 18th International Fryderyk Chopin Competition, which starts tomorrow..
The competition is one of the most prestigious global music events, and takes place in what the organisers call the ‘Piano capital of the world’.
The stakes are high, as winners go on to sign contracts with international record companies, release top-selling albums, and get signed up for global concert tours.
This year’s event attracted a record number of candidates, with over 500 pianists from across the globe sending recordings to the competition organiser the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute.
One hundred and fifty one of them were invited to Warsaw in July to take part in eliminations, which whittled the final number down to 87.
In addition, nine pianists who have won top prizes at other top competitions in recent years are eligible to compete.
A look at the finalists shows a domination of competitors from Asia. The largest group of finalists are 22 Chinese, followed by 16 Poles, 14 Japanese, seven from South Korea and six from Italy.
Only five pianists will compete from Russia, which has traditionally provided the leading group. Dmitri Shostakovich performed in the inaugural competition in 1927.
The remaining come from Canada, North and South America, a Spaniard, a Cuban, a Briton, a Latvian, and a Thai.
Two finalists from the previous competition will perform – Georgijs Osokins from Latvia and Poland’s Szymon Nehring, as well as the Russian Nikolay Khozyainov, who reached the final in 2010. He was 18 at the time and is one of the favourites.
Dating back to 1927, the competition is scheduled just every five years. However, due to restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the competition was postponed from 2020 to 2021.
Fears that the coronavirus epidemic would halt the competition were dismissed by culture minister Piotr Gliński at the pre-competition press conference in Warsaw’s Royal Castle yesterday.
He said: “The competition has to take place, because it is a celebration of Poland and the whole world. Chopin is a great showpiece for Poland around the world, the most high-value Polish brand, which has been valued at PLN 3 billion.
“At the same time, it is an important element of Polish identity.”
The competition kicks off with an inaugural concert on Saturday at Warsaw’s National Philharmonic, with pieces by Robert Schumann, Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Following that will be three stages leading to the finals on 18-20 October.
Tickets for the event have already sold out, but the organisers have prepared a wide range of state-of-the-art tech options for armchair fans.
These include live streams on the website chopin2020.pl, a dedicated app and even the chance to be present using VR technology.
Interest in Poland and around the world is expected to be huge. The July eliminations were watched by a record number of viewers online.
Artur Szklener, director of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute said: “They were watched and listened to four million times, so already at the elimination stage we reached the level of the previous competition in terms of viewers.”
Competitors’ performances will be judged by a jury made up of leading musical authorities and outstanding teachers, headed by Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń.