Russian Yulianna Avdeeva tops Chopin competition
Russian Yulianna Avdeeva won the prestigious XVI International Chopin Piano Competition, marking the bicentennial of the composer's birth, in Warsaw late Wednesday.
Avdeeva, 25, is the sixth Russian to win the competition which takes place once every five years and is dedicated to the 19th century Franco-Polish composer and pianist who was born in Zelazowa Wola, near the Polish capital.
"I'm very surprised. But it's a very nice surprise. I want to thank all the Warsaw audience, which was really great," Avdeeva told reporters in Poland's National Philharmonic in Warsaw, minutes after her victory was announced.
She takes home a gold medal with a cheque for 30,000 euros (42,000 dollars) and will also have the honour of playing at the New York Philharmonic and Tokyo's NHK Symphony Orchestra.
Born July 3, 1985 in Moscow, Avdeeva earned her degree at the Zurich's Hochschule der Kunste and the Italy's Lago di Como International Academy. She won second prize in the 2006 edition of the Geneva International Music Competition.
Lukas Geniusus, 20, representing Russia and Lithuania, and Austrian Ingolf Wunder, 25, were both awarded second place at the grand finale. The third spot went to Russia's Daniil Trifonov.
"This was a very interesting competition. There were various styles with some competitors playing Chopin in a very lyrical, melancholy fashion," jury president Professor Andrzej Jansinski told AFP.
A total of 81 young pianists from 23 countries qualified for the event which opened September 30.
Known for its difficulty, the competition demands perfection in the execution of all Chopin's music: nocturnes and mazurkas, the Polish, sonatas and two concertos.
This year the pressure on the candidates was even greater than usual as the world celebrates the bicentennial of the birth of Chopin.
This year's event also placed more emphasis on emotion, passion and great personalities ahead of the academic spirit of previous editions.
Past winners include such renowned pianists as Bella Davidovich and Halina Czerny-Stefanska (1950), Maurizio Pollini (1960), Martha Argerich (1965), Garrick Ohlsson (1970), Krystian Zimerman (1975), Dang Thai Son (1980), Stanislav Bunin (1985), Alexei Sultanov and Philippe Giusiano (1995), Yundi Li (2000) and Rafal Blechacz (2005).
After spending the first 20 years of his life in Poland, Chopin left his native country in November 1830, just before a major Polish uprising against Tsarist Russia.
He lived in Vienna and then settled in Paris, where he died on October 17, 1849 at the age of 39 of what is believed to have been tuberculosis.
© 2010 AFP