Organised since 1927, the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious competitions in the world devoted to the music of the great Polish composer.
The International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition takes place every 5 years and is always held in October, in part to coincide with the anniversary of the lauded Polish pianist’s death on October 17th, 1849. Over the course of four stages the pool of pianists are narrowed down, with about half of the competitors eliminated in each stage, culminating in 10 pianists performing in the final stage. For the first three stages of the competition pianists must perform several obligatory pieces plus choose from an assortment of other pieces to create their own individual Chopin performance repertoire. In the final stage of the competition each finalist must choose from one of two Piano Concertos (Op. 11 in E-minor or Op. 21 in F-minor) to perform, accompanied by the Polish National Symphony Orchestra.
There are many traditions that develop over time in a competition with so much history and pedigree. An interesting and somewhat nerve-racking ritual is the official choosing of the concert piano by each of the competing pianists. This year, each pianist was given exactly 15 minutes to choose one of four grand pianos that will become their instrument throughout every stage of the competition. While this may seem somewhat trivial, choosing the right piano is absolutely crucial for some pianists and it is not a process to be taken lightly.