Poland sets date for Frederic Chopin piano competition

International
Seong-Jin Cho

FILE – In this Oct. 20, 2015 file photo, South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho,left, smiles after being named the winner of the 17th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland. Culture authorities in Poland said Monday, March 9, 2020 that the 18th edition of the international Frederic Chopin Piano Competition will take place Oct. 2-23 in Warsaw with a large participation of pianists from Asia. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski/file)

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Culture authorities in Poland said Monday that the 18th edition of the international Frederic Chopin piano competition will take place Oct. 2-23 in Warsaw.

Eliminations for the competition, which is famous for launching world careers for its laureates, will be held April 17-28 in Warsaw and select around 80 pianists who will compete in the fall.

Addressing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, the head of the organizing National Frederic Chopin Institute, Artur Szklener, said that the eliminations would only be postponed until September if a large number of those who qualified were unable to come to Poland in April.

A total of 164 pianists from 33 nations including from Asia, Europe, North America and Australia will perform before a jury at the Chamber Hall of the Warsaw Philharmonic in the qualifications for the fall event.

The only time that the dates of the eliminations were extended to allow participants to attend was in 2010, when ash from a volcano eruption in Iceland temporarily grounded planes, making air travel impossible over Europe.

Fans will be able to follow the competition live on www.chopin2020.pl and watch the finals from Oct. 18-21 in special fan zones in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Budapest, Moscow, Jerusalem and Seoul.

The winner will receive a gold medal and a 40,000-euro ($45,000) prize.

The competition began in 1927 and was postponed from 1937-49. It has been held every five years since 1955, and is known for drawing international crowds and launching its laureates to stardom. Among its winners are Argentina’s Martha Argerich, Italy’s Maurizio Pollini, Garric Ohlsson from the U.S. and Poland’s Krystian Zimerman.

One of the sponsors of the competition is Polish oil and gas company PKN Orlen, which also sponsors Poland’s F1 race driver Robert Kubica.

Poland’s best loved composer and pianist, Chopin was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw to a Polish mother and French father. At the age of 19, he traveled to Europe’s culture centers of Vienna and then Paris, where he settled, composing and giving concerts. He died in Paris in 1849.

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This story has corrected a misspelling of a previous winner’s name to Krystian Zimerman, not Krystian Zimmermann.

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