The Korea Herald


[Newsmaker] Korean pianist wins Chopin competition

By 이선영

Published : Oct. 21, 2015 - 16:12

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A 21-year-old Korean pianist won Poland’s Chopin competition Tuesday -- one of the most prestigious contests in the piano world and considered a launch pad for an international career.

Cho Seong-jin beat 77 other young pianists from 20 countries to take home the gold medal and prize of 30,000 euros ($33,500) at the 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, held every five years in the Polish capital Warsaw and named after the 19th century pianist and composer. 

Cho Seong-jin (AFP-Yonhap) Cho Seong-jin (AFP-Yonhap)

He also won a special prize for the best performance of a polonaise, with prize money of 3,000 euros.

“First of all I couldn‘t believe it,” said Cho after winning. “Of course being famous is good, but I just want to make good music,” he added.

Cho is the first Korean ever to win the contest.

In 2005, brothers Lim Dong-min and Lim Dong-hyek shared third prize, which was the highest honor Korean pianists had earned in the competition.

Born in Seoul in 1994, Cho started piano at 6 and finished high school in Korea before moving to France in 2012. He now studies under Michel Beroff at the Paris Conservatoire.

This year’s Chopin competition notably featured 14 contestants from Poland, 13 from China, 12 from Japan and eight from South Korea.

Second prize went to 26-year-old Canadian Charles Richard-Hamelin and third place was awarded to Chinese-American Kate Liu, from among a group of 10 finalists.

The contest began in 1927. Winning is seen as a ticket to playing the greatest venues in the world and has helped to launch the careers of pianists such as Maurizio Pollini (1960) and Martha Argerich (1965).

The juried performances are open to the public and always sell out.

Born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near the Polish capital, Frederic Chopin fled his homeland just before the 1830 uprising against the occupying forces of Czarist Russia.

The composer later lived in the Austrian capital Vienna before moving to Paris, where he died aged 39 after years of poor health.

Described by 19th century German composer Robert Schumann as “cannons hidden among blossoms,” Chopin‘s music remains a symbol of Poland’s long struggle for freedom.

By Lee Sun-young  & AFP