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.
  • Biography
More info
Idil Biret
Idil Biret manifested an outstanding gift for music at the age of three and was trained at the Paris Conservatory under the tutelage of Nadia Boulanger. She studied with Alfred Cortot and was a lifelong disciple of Wilhelm Kempff who considered her as her best student.

Since the age of sixteen Idil Biret has given concerts throughout the world with major orchestras including the London Symphony, the Philharmonia, BBC Orchestras, Leningrad Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Dresden Staatskapelle, Berlin Radio Symphony, French National Orchestra, Polish Radio Symphony, Orchestre Suisse Romande, Warsaw Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Among the eminent conductors she collaborated with are Pierre Monteux, Joseph Keilberth, Hermann Scherchen, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Alexander Dimitreev, Eric Leinsdorf, Rudolf Kempe, Adrian Boult, Malcolm Sargent, Charles Mackerras, Moshe Atzmon, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Andrew Davis, Anthony Wit and Aaron Copland. Her first US concert took place on 22 November 1963 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in the immediate aftermath of the tragic event of President Kennedy’s death that day.

Idil Biret has participated in many festivals including Montreal, Berlin, Paris, Nohant, Duszniki, Athens, Persepolis, Dubrovnik, Montreal, Royan, Montpellier, Weimar and Istanbul. She has played Beethoven Sonatas with Yehudi Menuhin and the Mozart Concerto for two pianos with Wilhelm Kempff. Idil Biret has been member in the juries of many competitions including the Van Cliburn (USA), Queen Elisabeth, Montreal (Canada), Busoni (Italy), Liszt (Weimar, Germany, Utrecht, Holland) Messiaen (Paris). She has received the following awards; Lily Boulanger Memorial, Boston; Harriet Cohen - Dinu Lipatti gold medal, London; Adelaide Ristori prize, Italy; Artistic Merit and Order of Merit, Poland; Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite, France; State Artist, Turkey. She is the recipient of honorary doctorates from many universities.

Idil Biret has played in cycles the complete piano works of Beethoven and Brahms. In the 1980s she performed in two series of concerts Beethoven’s 32 sonatas and the piano transcription (Liszt) of all the 9 Symphonies, the latter broadcast live by Radio France. In the 1990s she played Beethoven’s five Piano Concertos, the Choral Fantasia and the Triple Concerto in five concerts. In 1997 she played all the solo piano works of Brahms in a series of five recitals in Germany during the composer’s centennial anniversary.

Idil Biret made more than eighty records for Decca, EMI, Atlantic/Finnadar, Naxos and other companies. These include the world premiere recording of the nine Beethoven Symphonies’ transcriptions by Liszt for EMI (6LP/1986). She also recorded the complete solo piano works and all the concertos of Chopin (15CD/1992), Brahms (12CD/1997), Rachmaninov (10CD/2000) and the three piano sonatas of Pierre Boulez (1995), the Etudes of Ligeti (2003) and the Firebird ballet music’s piano transcription by Stravinsky (2003) for Naxos and the Concerto of Massenet and Symphonique Variations and LesDjinns of Franck for Alpha in France (2006). Her recording of the complete works of Chopin was awarded a “Grand Prix du Disque Chopin” prize in Poland in 1995. The same year the Boulez sonatas recording won the annual Golden Diapason award and was selected among the best recordings of the year by Le Monde newspaper in France. In 2004 the sale of her CDs worldwide reached two million copies. Naxos commemorated this event by presenting her with a platinum disc.

Idil Biret has finalized the recording of the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 32 Sonatas which is now distributed worldwide by Naxos on her own label Idil Biret Archive (IBA) together with all the Piano Concertos and the Liszt transcription of the Beethoven Symphonies. In 2006 a book about her life story and musical thoughts has been published by Buchet/Chastel with the title “Idil Biret, a Turkish Pianist in France” which was then published by Staccato Verlag in Germany and Can Yayinlari in Turkey with the title “A Turkish Pianist on the concert stages of the World”.

In 2007 the Polish President decorated Idil Biret with the Distinguished Service Order - Cavalry Cross for her contribution to Polish culture through her recordings and performances of Chopin’s music. A documentary film on Idil Biret’s life has been released in 2009.
  • Biography
More info
John Browning
United States of America, °1933 - 2003
In the tradition of the great Romantic pianists, John Browning (1933-2003) earned a distinguished reputation for his exceptional interpretive gifts, technical mastery of keyboard color and sonority, and deep commitment to music. He was considered one of the most important and extraordinarily compelling virtuoso performers of his time. He was an American luminary of musical greatness, impressing audiences and critics with his passion, integrity, and probing musical imagination in an extensive repertoire that ranges from Bach and Scarlatti to 20th-century composers.
His highly acclaimed recordings, which garnered three Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards, along with a number of significant compositions that were written for and expressly dedicated to him by renowned composers, further illustrate the superlative breath of his artistic scope.

Since his triumphant debut in 1956 with the New York Philharmonic, John Browning appeared in virtually every music capital of the world, amassing accolades for his solo recitals, concerto appearances and recordings. He performed and recorded a broad spectrum of works spanning three centuries from Mozart to the grand virtuoso masterpieces of Beethoven, Brahms, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Tchaikovsky -- including 43 concertos. In addition to championing the works of Samuel Barber, with whom he had long been associated, he premiered and recorded works by the contemporary American composer, Richard Cumming.

John Browning concertized regularly in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, South America, New Zealand, and Australia, and toured the Soviet Union on four occasions. In North America, he appeared regularly with the symphonies of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Toronto, and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. Performances abroad with European orchestras included the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, London Philharmonic, London and Scottish National Symphony Orchestras, and most recently, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic with Andrew Davis.

He collaborated with Leonard Slatkin at both the Wolf Trap and Blossom Music Festivals, Pinchas Zukerman at the Ravinia Festival, the Tokyo String Quartet at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, and Robert Spano and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. He was also a favorite at other American music festivals and was frequently heard at the Hollywood Bowl, Caramoor International, Grant Park, Saratoga, Newport, Rockport, Seattle International, St. Charles Art & Music, Minnesota Orchestra Summerfest, and the Peninsula Music Festival.

Born in Denver, Colorado, in 1933 to a violinist father and a pianist mother, John Browning began piano studies at age five and gave his first public appearance as soloist with the Denver Symphony at age ten. He subsequently moved to New York City to pursue his musical studies on scholarship with Rosina Lhevinne at The Juilliard School. He rapidly gained prominence by winning the Steinway Centennial Award in 1954, the Leventritt Competition in 1955, and placing second the following year in the Queen Elisabeth Competition. Widespread attention continued when he made his professional orchestral debut in 1956 in a critically acclaimed performance with the New York Philharmonic and Dimitri Mitropoulos, which not only launched his career internationally, but also inspired Samuel Barber to write a piano concerto for him.

Six years later, in 1962, John Browning was chosen to give the world-premiere of Samuel Barber's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony at the inaugural celebration of New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Written especially for John Browning, the piece was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and has since become the most frequently performed American piano concerto in the past half-century -- no other has been so firmly ensconced in the literature. He first recorded the work in 1964 with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra for the CBS Masterworks label. A new recording with Leonard Slatkin conducting the St. Louis Symphony was released in 1991 by BMG Classics/RCA Victor Red Seal. This earned him his first Grammy Award for "Best Instrumental Soloist With Orchestra" and a Grammy nomination for "Best Classical Album."

John Browning also recorded for MusicMasters, and a disc of the complete Barber solo piano repertoire, released in 1993, earned him a second Grammy Award for "Best Classical Instrumental Soloist Without Orchestra." Additional releases for that label included an all-Scarlatti disc in 1994, followed by a recording of two Mozart Concerti with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and Julius Rudel the next year, and a recording of the Brahms Piano Quintet and Horn Trio with John Browning and members of the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble.

In 1994, Deutsche Grammophone released John Browning's recording of the complete Barber songs with soprano Cheryl Studer and baritone Thomas Hampson. A highly acclaimed recording of the Beethoven "Triple" Concerto with violinist Pinchas Zukerman, cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, and Christoph Eschenbach conducting the London Symphony Orchestra was released in 1998 by BMG Classics/RCA Victor Red Seal. Additional listings in John Browning's discography include three recordings on the Delos label devoted to the music of Liszt, Mussorgsky and Rachmaninoff. He can also be heard on the Capital, RCA, Phoenix and Seraphim labels, which include the complete Chopin Etudes, all five of the Prokofiev piano concerti, and the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1. Recordings of Richard Cumming's Twenty-Four Preludes and Silhouettes, written for and dedicated to John Browning, were released on the CRI label.
  • Biography
More info
Eduardo del Pueyo
, °1905 - 1986
More info
André Dumortier
Belgium, °1910 - 2004
André Dumortier (1910-2004) est un professeur de piano et un soliste qui a traversé le siècle qui vient de s'achever. Il est né à Comines en 1910 et a vécu sa première enfance dans un milieu de musiciens amateurs. La guerre, et ses vicissitudes, le conduit à quitter sa ville natale.

En 1919, il s'installe à Tournai et entre à l'Ecole des Frères. Sa sensibilité musicale fait qu'il entre bientôt dans la Maîtrise de la Cathédrale où il découvre le plain-chant et la polyphonie, formant si bien l'oreille. Parallèlement, il entame des études de piano au Conservatoire de Tournai. Ses progrès sont rapides car il possède une base solide acquise auprès de sa mère, qui enseignait le piano. En 1920, il donne un premier récital à Comines, avec une sonate de Mozart au programme.

L'événement fondateur est, comme il l'affirme souvent, la découverte de 'La Damnation de Faust', de Berlioz, exécutée à Tournai en 1922. Ainsi, des premières mélodies chantées par sa mère, au grand orchestre avec chœurs, le jeune musicien découvre les différentes strates sur lesquelles repose la musique classique occidentale. Sérieux et sensible tout à la fois, il met ces deux qualités au service d'un don exceptionnel. Il sera musicien !

Ayant obtenu son Prix de piano en 1925, André Dumortier entre au Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles, dans la classe de José Sévenants. Ce dernier a été l'assistant d'Arthur De Greef qui, lui-même, s'est imprégné de l'enseignement de Franz Liszt. Premier Prix de piano en 1927, il remporte le Premier Prix de Virtuosité en 1931. En 1935, il accompagne le jeune Arthur Grumiaux, et joue dans la salle du Conservatoire de Paris.

En 1938, il est lauréat du Concours Eugène Ysaÿe, le futur Concours Reine Elisabeth. Une série de concerts le mènent un peu partout en Belgique, mais aussi en France, en Hollande et en Angleterre. Il réalise ses premiers enregistrements au cours d'un séjour à Londres. Sa double carrière se confirme, après la guerre, en tant que soliste et pédagogue. C'est ainsi qu'il devient professeur de piano au Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles en 1946 jusqu'à sa retraite en 1977. Parallèlement, il assume la direction du Conservatoire de Tournai de 1954 à 1976.

D'autres voyages le mènent au Congo, au Portugal, en Italie, en Suisse, en Suède et en U.R.S.S. Depuis 1988, il anime les Stages d'interprétation et de perfectionnement à Tournai. On le retrouve dans d'autres 'master-classes', à Auxerre et Bayonne.

André Dumortier a réalisé plusieurs enregistrements, et il existe un double CD portant sur les deux concertos de Weber ainsi que sur des œuvres de Franck et Lekeu.

Au cours de sa carrière, il a fait partie de nombreux jurys : Concours Reine Elisabeth, Chapelle musicale Reine Elisabeth, Conservatoires Royaux et étrangers. Des 'Entretiens', suivis d'une biographie de l'artiste, ont été édités par la maison de la culture de Tournai en décembre 2001.
  • Biography
More info
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.
  • Biography
More info
Rudolf Firkusny
United States of America, °1912 - 1994
Rudolf Firkusny studied both piano and composition with Janacek; from 1920 to 1927, at the Brno Conservatory with Ruzena Kurzova; and at the Prague Conservatory with Vilem Kurz and Rudolf Karel. From 1929-1930, he also studied composition with Suk. He made his debut in Prague in 1922 and pursued an active career in Eastern Europe until 1933, when he first played in England, and 1938, when he made his United States debut. His compositions include a piano concerto, premiered in 1930, a string quartet, and various piano pieces and songs.

After his American debut, Rudolf Firkusny established an international career as a pianist, later teaching at the Juilliard School and the Aspen School of Music. Although best known for the standard nineteenth century repertory, he was also known for his chamber performances and his championing of both contemporary and lesser known works. He gave premieres of works by Menotti, Barber, Ginastera, Hanson, and Martinu, among others, and championed the works of Dvorak and Janacek in particular.
  • Biography
More info
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
  • Biography
More info
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.
  • Biography
More info
Franz Joseph Hirt
Switzerland, °1899 - 1985
More info
Grant Johannesen
United States of America, °1921 - 2005
Grant Johannesen emerged in the mid-20th century as one of the foremost American pianists of the postwar generation. He was best known for his interpretations of French music, particularly works by Fauré, whose entire solo output he recorded: Saint-Saëns, Poulenc, Milhaud, and Dukas. But he also played standards by Beethoven, Schubert, and Chopin and championed what was then contemporary music by American composers like Copland, Barber, Diamond, Harris, Mennin, and others, including his first wife Helen Taylor. He performed on many live radio broadcasts and appeared numerous times in the 1950s and 1960s on the popular American television show The Bell Telephone Hour. He made many tours of Europe, the Soviet Union, and South America and produced a sizable discography. Such labels as Vox, Vai Audio, and Centaur offer some of them.

Grant Johannesen was born in Salt Lake City, UT, in 1921. He began piano studies at age five and became a pupil of Robert Casadesus at Princeton in 1939. He had later studies with Egon Petri, and then took lessons in composition from Roger Sessions in New York and Nadia Boulanger in Fontainebleau, France.

In 1944 Grant Johannesen debuted in New York, the city he would make his base of operations for much of his career. 1949 was a pivotal year: Johannesen won the Ostend International Competition and then went on tour in Europe with the New York Philharmonic. Tragically, Johannesen's first wife, composer Helen Taylor, was killed in an auto accident in 1950. He was married to cellist Zara Nelsova from 1963-1973.

Grant Johannesen made further successful European tours with the NYPO in 1956 and 1957. From 1960-1966 he taught piano at the Aspen School of Music, while maintaining a busy concert schedule, including radio and television appearances. He toured the Soviet Union with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra in 1965 and gave highly successful recitals there in 1962 and 1970. From 1974-1977 Johannesen served as director of the Cleveland Institute of Music, and then as its president from 1977-1985.

Johannesen remained active in his later years, even taking on new repertory when he recorded an album on the Bonneville label in 1995 entitled Rare Russian Music, containing transcriptions of orchestral music by Prokofiev and songs by Rachmaninov. On a visit to friends in Germany Johannesen died in Berlin in 2005.
  • Biography
More info
Nikita Magaloff
Georgia, °1912 - 1992
Nikita Magaloff was one of the more interesting and charismatic keyboard figures of the twentieth century. Many of his recordings are still available and in modern sound; yet here was a man who was a friend of Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, from whom he took composition lessons, and Ravel, who was an enthusiastic admirer. He concertized with the most important conductors and orchestras of the day and at the most prestigious festivals. He also collaborated with the leading string players, like violinist Joseph Szigeti. Though he was born in Russia, he was cosmopolitan in outlook, with a broad repertory that favored Chopin: he played many all-Chopin concerts and had the distinction of being the first pianist to record all of Chopin's piano music. But his repertory also included Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Scriabin, and numerous others. Many of his recordings are available on Philips and Decca.

Nikita Magaloff was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1912. His family fled the Revolution when he was six, traveling first to Finland, then to the United States, and finally settling in Paris in 1922. His first advanced studies were at the Paris Conservatory, where his chief teacher was Isidor Philipp.

It was in the 1920s in Paris that Nikita Magaloff met Prokofiev, Ravel, and Rachmaninov, composers whose music and influence figured prominently in his career. He also befriended Szigeti there, a man he credited with introducing him to a broad range of chamber music and whose daughter he would later marry.

While from the 1920s through the 1950s Nikita Magaloff was active in the concert hall and recording studio, his career seemed to take wing after 1960. This lift might have been due to the cessation of his teaching activities: from 1949 to 1959 he regularly held master classes at the Geneva Conservatory. But then perhaps part of his late success owed something to the change in his style: he took more chances, displayed greater passion, and played, arguably, with more spirit.

Most of Nikita Magaloff's available recordings were made after 1960. He remained busy throughout the last three decades of his career, hardly slowing down even near the end: in the 1990-1991 season, he gave a six-concert series that covered nearly the complete Chopin output.
  • Biography
More info
Abel Matthys
Belgium, °1921 - 2011
More info
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.
  • Biography
More info
Ivan Moravec
- 2015
Long recognized as one of the century's great pianists, Ivan Moravec's performances and recordings alike have prompted critics in search of parallels to call up such names as Gieseking and Richter. Yet his musicianship, while it challenges comparison with these masters, is riveting and penetratingly individual in style.

Ivan Moravec was born in Prague in 1930 and until the age of 15 his main musical interest was in opera. He later studied piano at the Prague Conservatory and the Prague Academy, performing during his student years in Poland and Hungary. In 1957 Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli heard him perform in Prague and invited him to Italy for further study, where he participated in Michelangeli's master classes in Arezzo in 1957 and 1958.

Ivan Moravec made his American debut in January 1964 with the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell at Severance Hall; the following month he made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall during Cleveland's annual week of appearances there. Since then he has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia, Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, the Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto and Pittsburgh symphonies and the Los Angeles and Orpheus chamber orchestras among many others. As one of the world's most acclaimed recitalists, Mr. Moravec has appeared in recital at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center and on the major recital series in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland and Philadelphia. His festival appearances in the United States include Tanglewood, Blossom, Ravinia, the Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart and Caramoor.

Recent and upcoming performance highlights in North America include appearances with the St. Louis, Detroit, Seattle, Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas, Indianapolis and Colorado symphonies; the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa; performances in Carnegie Hall on the Keyboard Virtuoso Series and with the Orchestra of St. Luke's; and solo recitals in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Kansas City, Princeton, Fort Worth for the Van Cliburn Piano Foundation and at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

During the 07/08 season, Ivan Moravec was The Belknap Visitor in the Humanities at Princeton University and while on campus appeared in recital, with the University Orchestra and taught master classes.

In Europe, Ivan Moravec has appeared in recital and as concerto soloist in the major music capitals, including Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Munich, Oslo, Rome, Milan and on the prestigious International Piano Series at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. His international festival appearances include the Salzburg, Edinburgh, Ruhr, Schleswig-Holstein and Prague Spring Festivals.

In October 2000 Vaclav Havel, then President of the Czech Republic, awarded Ivan Moravec the Medal of Merit for Outstanding Artistic Achievement. That same month he was also honored by being the recipient of the Prize of Charles the Fourth, the Czech Republic's most prestigious acknowledgement of outstanding service to humanity. In January 2002 he was honored with a Cannes Classical Award for Lifetime Achievement, an award given by several international music magazines to recognize the universal appeal of classical music.

Ivan Moravec has recorded for the Nonesuch, Supraphon, Connoisseur Society, Dorian, Pro Arte, Quintessence, Vox and the Moss Music labels and a number of his many recordings have appeared in "Record of the Year" listings in High Fidelity, Stereo Review, the New York Times, Time Magazine and Newsweek. In November 2000 Supraphon presented Mr. Moravec with their Platinum Disc in honor of having sold more than 250,000 recordings on that label. His legendary Connoisseur Society recordings of music by Chopin, Ravel, Debussy, Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart were released by VAI Audio and again most recently in a four CD set by Supraphon. He is also one of the pianists included on Philips' historic series Great Pianists of the 20th Century. One of his recordings of the Mozart Concerti with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields on the Hänssler label was awarded a Cannes Classical Award for Solo with Orchestra 18th Century.
  • Biography
More info
Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden
Belgium, °1947
Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden was only sixteen when he became a laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 1964. That highly valued honour marked the launch of a brilliant career that has taken him to the world’s finest concert halls and the most celebrated festivals, including the festivals of Korsholm (Finland), Umea (Sweden), Prades and La Chaise-Dieu (France), Delft (The Netherlands), Seoul (Korea), and Stavelot and Seneffe (Belgium). He has been invited to play with a great many symphony and chamber orchestras, including the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (London), the Residentie Orkest of The Hague, and the National Orchestra of Belgium. He has worked with eminent conductors such as Paul Kletzky, Rudolf Barshai, and Yuri Temirkanov. As a chamber musician he has played with a number of outstanding Belgian and international partners, including Véronique Bogaerts, Marie Hallynck, Augustin Dumay, Silvia Marcovici, Mihaela Martin, Miriam Fried, Gérard Caussé, Frans Helmerson, José Van Dam, Walter Boeykens, the Enesco Quartet, the Melos Quartett, the Quatuor Ysaÿe, and the Ensemble César Franck. His vast and impressive repertoire includes the complete works for solo piano of Maurice Ravel. He is currently an emeritus professor at the Royal Brussels Conservatory and teaches at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel. In 2004 he reorganised the school founded in 1977 by his own teacher as the Eduardo del Pueyo Musical Centre and became its artistic director.
  • Biography
More info
Kazuko Yasukawa
More info
Piano 2020 postponed to May 2021
How the competition unfolds
H.M. Queen Mathilde
Piano Competitions' Juries
This site uses cookies to provide you with the best experience possible.
By clicking on « ACCEPT » or continuing to browse the site, you accept the use of cookies on your web browser. For more information about our cookie policy and the different types of cookies used, click on Learn more
ACCEPT