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Speaking of Pianists » Blog Archive » PIANO COMPETITIONS: PART I

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    Although there are hundreds of piano competitions in the world now, a select few stand above the rest in terms of prestige, and of course, awards. In the United States the Cliburn Competition is the one to win, a prize that just may create a career. That is, if you have an engaging personality, stamina, audience attraction, and don’t forget – terrific playing.

    The Cliburn Foundation and Competition, made possible because Van Cliburn made such an impression on America and the world, continues to be a major force in the world of pianists. Cliburn won first prize in the VERY FIRST Tchaikovsky Competition (Even though the “winner” had already been chosen.) And this was six months after the successful launch of Sputnik.

    Use this link to read about the amazing Van Cliburn story. _vancliburn.html

    The next event, the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, will be held in late May and early June of 2009. Portland Piano International will once again take a group to the Semi-Finals portion of the event, so watch this site for an announcement in late spring. Be patient.

    It’s truly stunning to hear such talent.

    The massive Tchaikovsky International Competition was the most influential contest for pianists in the mid-20th Century, but is often inconsistent now. It’s massive because it has categories not only in piano but also in violin, cello, voice and even violin making. It is going through many changes now, so I believe it will remain an ongoing presence in the musical world when it’s modernized a bit. But there will never again be a story like Cliburn’s.

    See this Wikipedia link below if you’re interested in more history of the competition:

    In the earlier years of the Tchaikovsky competition, prizes were awarded to pianists who have since established major careers, including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Misha Dichter, Edward Auer, Horatio Gutierez, Michael Pletnev and Barry Douglas. The names of the jurors bring tremors to any pianist’s hands; Gilels, Richter, Neuhaus. But first place winners of the past few years just haven’t been able to establish a strong presence in the United States.

    But what about your career if you forgot to enter a competition?


    A REMINDER: Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Paul Roberts’ master class next Monday, February 25th. Return to the PPI Home Page for details. As many of you know, Paul’s ability to communicate images and ideas in his teaching is extraordinary. Hope to see you there.

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