Chairman of the jury
Marcel Poot
Belgium, °1901 - 1988
Marcel Poot (1901-1988), the son of Jan Poot, director of the Royal Flemish Theatre, grew up in an artistic milieu. He took his first music lessons with the organist Gerard Nauwelaerts and subsequently studied solfège, piano and harmony from 1916 to 1919 at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels with Arthur De Greef, José Sevenans and Martin Lunssens. His first prizes in counterpoint (1922) and fugue (1924) were earned at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp with Lodewijk Mortelmans. He also studied composition and orchestration privately with Paul Gilson.

Together, Poot and Gilson published La Revue Musicale Belge, a periodical that appeared starting in 1925. In that same year, he and seven other of Gilson’s students set up the group known as Les Synthétistes, which aimed to create a synthesis of the achievements of current musical evolutions, without sacrificing their individuality. In 1930, he won the Rubens Prize, which allowed him to study for three years with Paul Dukas at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris.

Marcel Poot began his career at the State Secondary School in Vilvoorde and also taught piano, solfège and music history at the music academy in that city. He taught practical harmony (1939) and counterpoint (1940-1949) at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels before becoming director of that school (1949-1966). Besides this, he was a lecturer at the Institut Supérieur des Arts Décoratifs, headmaster of the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel (1970-1976), a member of the Royal Flemish Academy for Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts, a jury member for the Queen Elisabeth Competition (1963-1981), chairman of SABAM (composers’ rights organisation), the Union of Belgian Composers and CISAC (the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers), and he was a jury member for various composition competitions.
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Guido Agosti
, °1901 - 1989
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Alexandre Brailowsky
Russian Federation, France, °1896 - 1976
Alexander Brailowsky (1896-1976) was a Russian pianist who studied with Busoni and Francis Planté, and made his debut in Paris in 1919. In 1926 he became a French citizen. He was a Chopin specialist and gave recital series of the complete Chopin works in cities all over the world. His recording career began in the acoustical era and continued well past the introduction of stereo.
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Reimar Dahlgrun
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Eduardo del Pueyo
, °1905 - 1986
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Liuba Enceva
Bulgaria (Republic), °1914 - 1989
Liuba Enceva was a Bulgarian pianist and music teacher. Initiated to the piano by her mother, at the age of ten she ranked first at the sixty-fifth competition of the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan. In 1932, aged nineteen, she graduated from the Milan Conservatory with the highest degree. In Paris she specialized with Marcel Ciampi and Lazar Levy and in Berlin with Edwin Fischer. From 1926 she started to perform in Bulgaria. In 1936 she won the silver medal at the International Competition for singers and instrumentalists in Vienna, after which she started to tour internationally.

Since 1963, she was a Professor of Piano at the State Conservatory in Sofia, where she had been a regular lecturer since 1950, combining a concert career with her pedagogic activities. Because of her high artistic integrity, Liuba Enceva was regularly invited to be on the juries of international piano competitions such as the Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Queen Elisabeth, Robert Schuman, Bach, Debussy and Busoni Competitions. She was a visiting professor at the Muzishino Academy in Tokyo in 1981-82, during which she toured Japan and Australia extensively. She regularly gave master classes and in 1985 founded and managed the Faculty of Music in the city of Isperih.

In 1937 Liuba Enceva participated in the opening of the Bulgaria Hall in Sofia, with a performance of the concerto for two pianos and orchestra by Johann Sebastian Bach with Dimitar Nenov, accompanied by the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by T. Tsankov. She returned to Sofia for her first concert there after World War II in 1946. Later on she became an established soloist at Radio Sofia. In 1959 she performed for the first time with Sava Dimitrov on the clarinet, a duo which would tour the music scenes for 26 years.

For the Alpha and Lehman Gorle label she made the first recordings of works by Pancho, Svetoslav Obretenov, Dimitar Nenov, Parashkev Hadjiev and Georgi Zlatev-Cherkin. In 1989 Liuba Enceva made her last recording for the Bulgarian National Radio, which was issued on CD in 2009 on the occasion of 20 years of her death.

In 1952, Liuba Enceva received the Dimitrov Prize and in 1979 she was awarded the title of People's Artist of Bulgaria. In 1985 she received the Award of Musical Days "Dimitar Nenov" in Razgrad. In 1997, her husband Alexander Petrov donated her native home to the Young Talents Foundation. Since 2008, an annual award with the name of Liuba Enceva is organised in the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts Plovdiv. There is a also an Arts Foundation named after her.
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Annie Fischer
, °1914 - 1995
Hungarian pianist Annie Fischer was a child prodigy. Her debut performance, at age eight, was of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Concerto in C Major. She studied at the Academy of Music in Budapest under Arnold Szekely and Ernst von Dohnanyi. In 1933 she won first prize in the Liszt piano competition in Budapest. Four years later she married music critic Aladar Toth. In 1941 she emigrated to Sweden, forced, because of her Jewish origins, to flee a Hungary where anti-Semitism was on the rise and that was aligned with Nazi Germany. At the end of World War II, she returned to Hungary (1946).

Her performing career took her all over the world. In 1955 she was made an honorary professor of the Academy of Music in Budapest. In her later years she performed less regularly, playing mostly outside of Budapest (both in Hungary and abroad). Her blend of temperamental, explosive playing combined with sensitivity was reminiscent of the tradition of the Romantic era. Her repertoire centred on the period from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Johannes Brahms. She also recorded her own interpretations of a number of Mozart’s concertos as well as Bela Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3.
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Leon Fleisher
United States of America, °1928 - 2020
Leon Fleisher, whose career as an acclaimed US concert pianist continued despite losing the use of his right hand, has died aged 92 in Baltimore on 2 August 2020.

Born to eastern European Jewish immigrants in San Francisco in 1928, Fleisher was a child prodigy who, aged four, would repeat the piano phrases his older brother had been learning, without teaching. He played his first public concert aged eight, and began being taught by star pianist Artur Schnabel the following year. He made his debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, at the city’s Carnegie Hall, when he was 16.

As a young man, he signed a contract with Columbia Masterworks, and earned acclaim for his performances of piano concertos by Brahms, Liszt and Beethoven, with conductors including Leonard Bernstein and George Szell.

By 1949, however, though he had played with many of the major American orchestras and had given recitals across the country, engagements began to dry up for Mr. Fleisher. The next year he moved to Paris and remained in Europe until 1958, relocating first to the Netherlands and then to Italy.

As an expatriate, Mr. Fleisher became the first American to win the gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, in 1952. The victory led to a long list of engagements in Europe and revived interest in him among American orchestras, managers and concert promoters.

He developed a condition called focal dystonia, which he later attributed to over-practising, that led to numbness in his right hand and two of his fingers curling inward. Aged 36, he could no longer play with both hands, causing him a “deep funk and despair”, he later said.

After two years of inactivity, he refocused on repertoire for the left hand, including works by Ravel, Prokofiev and Britten, as well as music newly composed for him, and began a successful conducting career with orchestras in Baltimore and Annapolis.

He attempted a return to two-handed playing in the mid-80s but didn’t feel he had enough facility with his right hand. However, after further treatment in the 90s, with a combination of Botox injections and deep tissue massage, he regained the use of his afflicted fingers and recorded new albums of two-handed work.

A documentary about his life, Two Hands, was nominated for best documentary short at the 2006 Academy awards.

Articles from The NY Times and The Guardian
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Emil Gilels
Russian Federation, °1916 - 1985
Emil Gilels was born in Odessa. He did not come from a musical family: his father worked as a clerk in the sugar refinery and his mother looked after the large family. At the age of five and a half he was taken to Yakov Tkach, a famous piano pedagogue in Odessa. He completed his first period of studies with unprecedented ease. In 1929 aged twelve, he gave his first public concert. In 1930 he was accepted to the conservatory in Odessa into the class of Berta Reingbald. Her main goal was his participation in the First All-Union Competition of Performers which was announced to take place in 1933 in Moscow. Gilels’ playing created a sensation - when he finished his programme the auditorium rose up in tumultuous ovation and even the jury stood to applaud. The question of first prize was not even discussed: in a unanimous decision Gilels was announced the winner. The competition changed Emil’s life - he was suddenly famous throughout the land. Following the competition, Gilels embarked on an extensive concert tour around the USSR.

Gilels graduated from the Odessa Conservatory in the autumn of 1935. Subsequently, he was accepted into the class of Heinrich Neuhaus as a postgraduate student at the Moscow Conservatory, and Gilels renewed his commitment to giving concerts. The phenomenon, ‘Gilels’, found its recognition from the outside. Upon arriving to Moscow at the start of 1936, the conductor Otto Klemperer performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor Opus 37 with none other than Gilels as the soloist. In 1936 he participated in his first international competition - the International Vienna Music Academy Competition. Despite attracting the attention of Europe and the unquestionable prestige of being a finalist, he looked upon the second place awarded to him as a failure. First place was awarded to his friend Jacob Flier - an intensely Romantic pianist.

In 1938 Gilels and Flier set off to the Queen Elisabeth Competition. They were expected to uphold the victories of the Soviet violinists, lead by David Oistrakh a year earlier, and to return in triumph. Gilels was awarded the first prize and Flier took the third. The whole musical world began to talk about Emil Gilels. Following the competition he was meant to embark on a lengthy concert tour, including a tour of the USA. These plans were abruptly interrupted by the Second World War. On home soil Gilels became a hero: he received a medal for his achievements, was greeted by a welcome party upon his return and in the Soviet consciousness his name sounded in equal rank with the names of famous explorers, pilots and film stars.

Emil Gilels completed his postgraduate studies in 1938 and began teaching at the Moscow Conservatory (from 1952 becoming a professor). His pedagogical work continued sporadically until 1976, but because of the huge demands of his concerts he could not devote much time to teaching. Nevertheless his class numbered important pianists such as Marina Mdivani, Valery Afanassiev, Igor Zhukov and the pianist-composer Vladimir Blok.

When the war broke out he was not evacuated with the conservatory. Instead he joined the civilian resistance and following an order for his return, he began to perform on the Front and in hospitals. At the start of 1943 he performed Stravinsky’s bravura piece Petrushka to the weary inhabitants of besieged Leningrad.

When the war ended Emil Gilels was to undertake a special mission. He was to represent the Art of a victorious country. He took to the stage amongst the ruins of Eastern Europe, and soon after the war he went on concert tours of Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Scandinavia and numerous other countries. Every European country considered it a great privilege to invite Gilels to perform or record. He was decorated with medals and honours - the public worshiped him.

In 1955 Emil Gilels became the first Soviet Artist, since the Second World War, to travel on a concert tour of the USA. The years between the 1950s and 1970s saw him at the height of his powers in all aspects of his playing. He performed under the baton of many of the finest conductors: Mravinsky, Melik-Pashayev, Svetlanov, Ivanov, Rakhlin, Gauk, Ginsburg, Eliasberg, Niyazi, Jarvi, Kitayenko, Dudarova, Barshai. Gilels’ collaboration with Sanderling and Kondrashin were particularly important and longstanding. Within the USSR he had further collaborations with Gusman, Paverman, Maluntsyan, Gokieli, Kolomiytseva, Shaposhnikov, Gurtovoy, Rabinovich, Katz, Feldman, Vigners, Sherman, Stasevich, Sokolov, Tiulin, Kravchenko, Karapetyan, Dubrovsky, Tolba, Provatorov, Katayev, Aranovich, Chunikhin, Yadikh, Nikolayevsky and many others. Through his collaborations he also was able to find new, talented conductors such as Verbintsky and Ovchinikov.

Emil Gilels also played in ensembles: with pianists Flier and Zak, and later with his daughter Elena Gilels; violinists Elisabeth Gilels (his sister), Tziganov, Kogan; with the Beethoven Quartet; in a trio with Tziganov and Shirinsky, as well as his own trio (Gilels, Kogan, Rostropovich); with flautist Korneiv; and the French horn player Shapiro. Abroad he collaborated with the Amadeus Quartet and the Sibelius Academy Quartet.

Emil Gilels’ commitment to the recording studio was as intensive as his commitment to his concert tours : he recorded with many record companies, including Melodiya, Angel, Ariola, EMI, Eterna and Deutsche Grammophon. His earliest recordings are from the 1930s and include Loeillet-Godowsky’s Gigue, the Fantasia on Two Themes from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart-Liszt-Busoni, Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G minor Opus 23, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9, Schumann’s Toccata and Mendelssohn’s Duetto from the Songs without Words. All in all Gilels committed to record over five hundred works (not counting the multiple versions that exist for many of the cycles and individual pieces): the exact number however may never become known because of the numerous amateur audio and video recordings made from Gilels’ recitals.

Between the 1950s and 1970s Gilels continued to teach at the Moscow Conservatory whilst maintaining an active profile as an important public figure. He could not however refuse the invitation to preside over the jury at the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition - a position that he maintained for the first four competitions.

In the middle of the 1970s Emil Gilels started to limit any activities that were not directly related to his performing. He retired as a jury member of international piano competitions and stopped teaching.

Emil Gilels had to his name the Peoples’ Artist of the USSR, was a recipient of the Lenin Prize (1962), and in 1976 in honour of his sixtieth birthday was bestowed the highest possible governmental award - Hero of Socialist Labour.
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Franz Joseph Hirt
Switzerland, °1899 - 1985
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Eugene Istomin
United States of America, °1925 - 2003
Eugene Istomin was long acknowledged as a leading pianist of the 20th Century. A rare combination of virtuosity, poetic insight and aristocratic style won him international acclaim as a recitalist, orchestral soloist, and chamber musician. Born in New York City of Russian parents who were both professional singers, his prodigious musical gifts were discovered at age six by Alexander Siloti, the Russian pedagogue. At the age of twelve, he was accepted by the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia to study with Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horzowski.

Eugene Istomin came to national attention at age seventeen, as a result of winning both the Leventritt and Philadelphia Orchestra Youth Awards, making sensational debuts in the same week with both the Philadelphia and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. In 1950, he was the youngest performer at the first Prades Festival under the artistic direction of Pablo Casals. From then he gave more than 4,000 concerts with the world's leading orchestras and appeared in recital on six continents.

He had the unique musical experience of peforming with such legendary conductors as Bruno Walter, Fritz Reiner, George Szell, Charles Munch, Dimitri Mitropolous, Eugene Ormandy, and Leonard Bernstein - in brief, a who's who of great maestros. That list continues up to our time. Eminent composers Henri Dutilleux, Roger Sessions, and Ned Rorem, among others, have written and dedicated works to him.

No less impressive than his career as a soloist were his celebrated performances with the legendary Istomin - Stern - Rose Trio, which was formed in 1960 with his friends Isaac Stern and Leonard Rose. Many of their recordings are still held as exemplifying the highest standards in music-making. In addition to his music, Eugene Istomin had a serious interest in the visual arts, literature, and history.
He was passionate about sports, particularly baseball. All of these diverse interests enriched his life as well as his friendships.

Eugene Istomin participated in many significant world events as a cultural ambassador around the world under the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter and Reagan. He played at the White House and performed on three important occasions at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He was also an active participant in numerous events to promote culture and education. In 1988 he embarked on an unprecedented undertaking of a four - month solo recital tour of thirty cities throughout North America, accompanied by his own piano technician and using a specially fitted truck carrying two Steinway concert grand pianos. He was keenly aware that great music belongs in the musical life of the music centers. In his own words, "instrumentally speaking, this helps to bring the standards of a New York or Paris concert to large cities as well as the most modest venue." He continued these tours for eight consecutive years.

Over the course of his long career, Eugene Istomin made dozens of recordings, including concertos, solo works, and his famous trio's extensive survey of the chamber music literature. In 2001 he recorded three additional concerti with orchestra, including the Paul Paray Fantaisie for piano and orchestra, never recorded before, with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra with Jean-Bernard Pommier conducting.
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Viktor Merjanov
Russian Federation - 2012
Viktor Merjanov is professor of piano and director of the department at the Moscow Conservatory. He was educated at the same institution, studying there with professor Feinberg. A laureate of many national and international competitions, including the Chopin Competition in 1940, he has had several pupils who have in turn themselves become competition prize-winners.
His career as soloist, teacher and lecturer, has led Viktor Merjanov all over the (then) Soviet Union, to many European capitals, to Cuba and the United States. He has played under the baton of many celebrated conductors, such as Kondrashin, Temirkanov, Maderna and Berglund.
He is also the author of articles on a variety of musical and pedagogical themes. Viktor Merjanov is president of the Association of Soviet Pianists and has often been a jury member at international competitions.
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Vlado Perlemuter
Lithuania, France, °1904 - 2002
Vlado Perlemuter was the third of four brothers whose father was a rabbi. Although born of Polish Jewish parents in Lithuania, at the age of four he was taken to Paris where he lived for the rest of his life and is therefore thought of as a French pianist. He began to learn the piano at the age of nine and two years later received piano lessons from Moritz Moszkowski which continued for the next two years. At thirteen he joined the piano class of Alfred Cortot at the Paris Conservatoire and when he was fifteen received a premier prix in piano. At the examination he played Fauré’s Theme and Variations Op. 73; the composer was chairman of the jury at the examination. The following year, when he was sixteen, he won a prix d’honneur for his performance of the Variations, Interlude and Finale on a theme of Rameau by Paul Dukas. His success continued when he won the Diémer Prize for which only those students who had already won a premier prix could compete. In 1921 he began to give concerts, subsequently occasionally meeting Gabriel Fauré, for whom he played.

A few years later Vlado Perlemuter heard Ravel’s Jeux d’eau and the impression this work made upon him led him to study and learn the complete works of Ravel between 1925 and 1927. For six months during 1927 Perlemuter had the rare opportunity of studying Ravel’s works with the composer himself, travelling regularly to the composer’s home in Montfort-l’Amaury. At this time he also studied with Robert Lortat. Two years later Perlemuter performed the complete solo piano works by Ravel in two recitals in Paris, the first pianist to do this. In 1953 he published details of his work with Ravel in a book entitled Ravel d’après Ravel (Lausanne 1953). He also gave chamber music recitals with Gabriel Bouillon, Pierre Fournier and the Calvet Quartet.

During the 1930s Vlado Perlemuter strove to establish a career as a pianist. In 1934 he played a few pieces by Prokofiev for The Music Society in London, and made his Wigmore Hall recital debut in 1937. It seems that rather than playing the music of Ravel for which he was so suited, he chose a stolid programme which included Bach’s Italian Concerto BWV 971 and Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in F minor Op. 57 ‘Appassionata’. Two years later he returned to the Wigmore Hall, this time choosing repertoire in which he was acknowledged as an interpreter: Ravel’s Sonatine, Schumann’s Études Symphoniques Op. 13, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in E flat Op. 81a ‘Les Adieux’ and Chopin’s Préludes Op. 28.

In 1938, as World War II approached, Vlado Perlemuter was appointed as an assistant professor at the Paris Conservatoire; but by 1942 he was desperately trying to get himself and his wife to Switzerland as his name was on a list of French Jews to be arrested. Cortot, although Commissioner of High Arts in the Vichy government, did nothing to help him, something which Perlemuter never forgave. He was not permitted to perform in Switzerland, so the war years were a difficult time for Vlado Perlemuter, who had a breakdown requiring him to spend three years in a sanatorium. He returned to Paris in the late 1940s, in 1950 resuming his performing career and taking up a teaching post at the Paris Conservatoire: his most famous pupils are Michel Dalberto and Christian Zacharias.

Teaching was an important part of his career. He gave master classes in Japan, Britain and Canada and served on the juries of many piano competitions, but he also performed regularly in Europe, North Africa and Japan. He often visited Britain, but when he played at London’s Wigmore Hall in 1962 The Times’s critic referred to the concert erroneously as his London recital debut. Although Perlemuter rarely visited America, he was Pianist in Residence at Indiana University in Bloomington, Illinois; however he apparently returned to Europe before the end of his contract. He was made an Officier de la Légion d’honneur and a Commmandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
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Jenny Solheid
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Robert Steyaert
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Eugène Traey
Belgium, °1915 - 2006
Count Eugène Traey (1915-2006) was born in Amsterdam of Belgian parents and studied music at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Antwerp, where his piano teacher was Emmanuel Durlet. He went on to study in Paris under Robert Casadesus and in Germany under Karl Leimer and Walter Gieseking. After this international training as a pianist, Eugène Traey pursued a career both as a concert performer and a teacher at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, of which he was the director until 1980. He gave recitals, performed with orchestras and took part in chamber music recitals with Arthur Grumiaux and Jean Laurent, as well as performing piano duos with Frédéric Gevers. He was the founder of the deSingel concert hall in Antwerp and was a regular member of juries at international competitions (Moscow, Warsaw, Munich and Tokyo, among others). From 1982 until 1995 Eugène Traey presided over the jury of the Queen Elisabeth Competition.
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Sonia Valine
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Monique (Yver) de la Bruchollerie
France, °1915 - 1973
It was a lucky coincidence for Monique de la Bruchollerie's (1915-1973) future career that her parents were friends of legendary pianist and teacher Isidor Philipp, who discovered the girl’s talent and immediately started giving her lessons. Barely aged 7, she became a student of the Paris Conservatoire in Professor Philipp's class. At 13 she graduated from the Conservatoire, winning the Premier Prix (1928) and the Prix Pagès, awarded by Conservatoire authorities every five years to the best Premier Prix winner of the previous four years. Subsequently, she studied with Alfred Cortot in Paris, Emil von Sauer in Vienna and Raul Kochalski in Berlin.

In 1932 Monique de la Bruchollerie gave a concert at the Salle Pleyel, with the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire orchestra under the direction of Charles Munch, playing three piano concertos. This performance marked the beginning of the 17-year-old's international career and led her into signing an exclusive three year contract with the Société des Concerts.

She subsequently took part in three international music competitions: in Vienna (3rd prize, 1936), Warsaw (3rd Chopin Competition, 7th prize) and Brussels (Eugène Ysaÿe Competition, 10th prize, 1938).

Monique de la Bruchollerie's concert career gained new momentum after World War II. During the 1940s, '50s and '60s she played several dozen concerts a year. She debuted in the United States with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Ernest Ansermet in 1952. Subsequently she appeared as a soloist in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and other US cities. Her five performances given within two weeks at Carnegie Hall are regarded as an outstanding event in the famous concert hall's history. Her repertoire was very wide, including works by Bach, Mozart, Clementi, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Débussy, Franck, de Falla, Szymanowski, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.

In 1969, during a series of concerts in Romania, Monique de La Bruchollerie was injured in a car accident which ended her stage career. She dedicated the remainder of her life to teaching. She left a few recordings including piano concertos by Chopin, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Franck and Rachmaninov as well as solo pieces by various composers, including Chopin's Ballade in F minor. She was a jury member at international music competitions in Paris, Budapest, Versailles and Munich.
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Piano 2020 postponed to May 2021
How the competition unfolds
H.M. Queen Mathilde
Piano Competitions' Juries
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