After ten years since the victory in the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2005 he has achieved a position of the truly world-famous artist. His outstanding talent has been appreciated by the audiences of Europe, America, Asia, by music critics, great conductors and famous symphony orchestras, record producers, managers and artistic agencies organizing concerts in the most famous concert halls and in the largest music centres.
Last ten years of Rafał Blechacz’s career was filled with the solo recitals as well as concerts performed with the symphony orchestras. First of all however, it was time of intensive work on expanding his repertoire. Winning the Grand Prix, the Gold Medal and all of the other awards possible, namely for the best performance of mazurkas, polonaise, concerto, sonata (the latter founded by Krystian Zimerman) and also the audience award he unquestionably has been recognized as his generation’s greatest performer of Chopin’s works.
In such a role the international audiences wanted to hear and know him better as he never lets them down being able to win people over and gain their affection and appreciation. To meet these demands the young artist embarks on numerous and often long artistic tours. After all, the title of the Chopin Piano Competition Winner carries the meaning and importance. Everyone everywhere would like to listen to him and experience a talent of someone who amidst tough rivalry before distinguished jury proved to be the best one. One can only mention here that the young Polish pianist was definitely head and shoulders above the large and strong - as it is always the case in Warsaw - group of competitors. To emphasize his superiority the jury has not awarded the second prize but only the third and subsequent ones.
The aforementioned artist’s intensive work on developing his repertoire refers of course to Chopin but it is hard to imagine that the pianist of such a rank would not perform works by other composers. Therefore his repertoire is being continuously enlarged with works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy and Szymanowski. From among them the programs of the artist’s albums recorded and released by Deutsche Grammophon (currently five) have been selected.
The American Gilmore Artist Award, sometimes called ”the Piano Nobel,” bestowed on Rafal Blechacz in January 2014, is a strong and meaningful acknowledgment that summarizes well the last decade of his artistic activity.
Rafał Blechacz was born in 1985 in Nakło nad Notecią. He started playing piano at the age of five. He studied in the Artur Rubinstein State Primary School of Music in Bydgoszcz under the supervision of Professor Jacek Polański. In 2007 he completed the piano studies in the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz in class of Professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń. Still a student, he received many awards and honours such as the 1st Prize and Grand Prix in the 13th Johann Sebastian Bach National Competition in Gorzów Wielkopolski (1996), the 2nd Prize in the 5th Artur Rubinstein International Competition for Young Pianists in Bydgoszcz (2002), the victory in the 5th International Piano Competition in Hamamatsu, Japan (2003).
As the winner of the Grand Prix of the 15th Chopin Piano Competition he started concertizing in the most prestigious venues such as Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Musikverein in Vienna, Berliner Philharmonie, Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Herkulessaal in Munich, Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Royal Festival Hall as well as the Wigmore Hall in London, Tonhalle in Zurich, La Scala in Milan, among others. He is being invited to the best music festivals such as Salzburg, Verbier in Switzerland, La Roque-d'Anthéron (France), Klavier-Festival Ruhr in Germany as well as The Gilmore Festival in the USA. He plays with numerous symphony orchestras, cooperating with outstanding conductors like Charles Dutoit, Valery Gergiev, Daniel Harding, Pavo Järvi, Fabio Luisi, Kent Nagono, Andris Nelsons, Victor Pablo Perez, Trevor Pinnock, Mikhail Pletnev, Jerzy Semkow, Antoni Wit and Dawid Zinman. In 2006 he signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, the German record company. He is the second in history, after Krystian Zimerman, Polish pianist signed up by this prestigious label.
Rafal Blechacz’s first album with Fryderyk Chopin’s Preludes appeared in 2007. In Poland it obtained the platinum status just in the second week of sale. It has been honoured with many awards, among others by German Echo Klassik and French Diapason d’Or. The next album, this time with sonatas of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, was released one year later and again it was received very well. After the success of the two first albums the artist celebrated the Chopin’s Year of 2010 with the recording of both Chopin’s Piano Concerts conducted by Jerzy Semkow and legendary Concertgebouw Orchestra, proclaimed in 2009 by the British magazine Gramophone the best orchestra of the world. This time the already third album of Rafał Blechacz was honoured with Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the prestigious award of critics from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In Poland it obtained the double platinum status in the short period of time. The next recording with works by Debussy and Szymanowski, due to a thoughtful selection of the repertoire, as well as masterful performance, gained significant publicity and recognition among the international music critics. In 2012 the Deutsche Phono Akademie awarded Blechacz the Echo Klassik prize in category of the Best Solo Album of the Year (19th and 20th century). Furthermore, this same recording was honoured as the Album of the Month by the British magazine Gramophone. It was also recognized with the Polish phonographic Fryderyk Award as the best classical music album of 2013. In the fall of 2013 Rafał Blechacz returned to Chopin’s repertoire recording his seven grand polonaises. This album obtained the gold record status on the first day of sale. Soon after, it was honoured with Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik as the best album in the category Piano music (2013).
In July 2010 Rafał Blechacz received the Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Siena) award for his overall artistic achievements bestowed on him by the international jury of music critics. In January 2014 in New York he was pronounced the winner of The Gilmore 2014 award, highly valued in the piano world, conferred every four years on the most outstanding artist to provide financial support for advancing his/her artistic career.
On February 24, 2015 in Warsaw during the concert in the Warsaw Philharmonic Rafal Blechacz received the President of the Republic of Poland’s medal Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta awarded during the concert at the National Philharmonic.
President of the Republic of Poland’s medal Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta awarded during the concert at the National Philharmonic.
Award – for the album of Chopin’s Polonaises
”Fryderyk Dwudziestolecia” (Twenty Year Anniversary Fryderyk) award for the album with Chopin’s Piano Concerts.
Winning the prestigious American 2014 Gilmore Artist Award.
Honourable mention of the German, Austrian and Swiss critics (Deutschen Schallplattenkritik Academy) for the album of Chopin’s Polonaises.
Premiѐre of the new album of Chopin’s Polonaises.
“Fryderyk 2013” awarded in the category of the Album of the Year for the ”Debussy-Szymanowski” recording.
German prize Echo Klassik 2012 awarded in the category of the Best Solo Album of the Year for the album ”Debussy-Szymanowski”.
Concert in the famous La Scala (worldwide television and Internet broadcast).
Album release with the music of Claude Debussy and Karol Szymanowski.
Silver medal Gloria Artis by the Minister of Culture.
Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana 2010 awared for the entire artistic activity by the European critics and music journalists.
German phonographic award Preis Der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik for the recording of Chopin’s Piano Concerts (the award of German, Austrian and Swiss critics).
The double platinum award for the sale of the album of Chopin’s Piano Concertos.
Two ”Fryderyk” awards for the album of Chopin’s Piano Concertos: the Most Outstanding Recording of Polish Music as well as the Album of the Year.
Release of the album with Chopin’s Piano Concertos recorded with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, conducted by Jerzy Semkow.
The Polish phonographic award ”Fryderyk 2009” in the category of the Album of the Year for the “Classical Sonatas”.
Concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
Premiѐre of the second album of the ”Classical Sonatas”.
Two concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center, New York.
Debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.
Recital at the Music Festival in Salzburg.
German phonographic prize Echo Klassik 2008 in the category of the Instrumentalist of the Year.
Two awards by the Polish Phonographic Academy for the album with Chopin’s Preludes in the categories: the Album of the Year and the Most Outstanding Recording of Polish Music.
The prestigious French phonographic prize Diapason d’Or for the album with Chopin’s Preludes.
Recital in the Concertgebouw within the series of ”Masterpianisten” as well as the meeting with the representatives of the biggest artistic agencies of the world to launch the long-term cooperation.
The first album of 26 Fryderyk Chopin’s Preludes released by Deutsche Grammophon.
The 2007 Primus Inter Pares honourable mention (for the best student of the Cuiavia-Pomerania Voivodeship).
Graduating with Master’s degree cum laude from the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz.
Signing the contract with Deutsche Grammophon, a German recording company.
Two Polish Television Awards – the TV Polonia Award for Promoting Poland and Polish Culture and the TVP Kultura Award – the 2005 Event of the Year.
”Paszport Polityki” Award in the category of Classical Music.
Prize ”Krzesło Roku 2005" by the weekly magazine The Warsaw Voice.
1st Prize and Golden Medal at the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw as well as statutory special prizes:
• for the best performance of Polonaise
• for the best performance of Mazurkas
• for the best performance of Sonata
• for the best performance of Concert
• Audience Award
(…) Blechacz began his recital with an inspired performance of Debussy’s “Suite bergamasque.” His playing showed lots of tonal color and lyricism. He dallied with a light, delicate tone but shifted deftly to more powerful passages, including some terrific sforzandos in the second movement. The final movement was playful, but he kept it reigned in.Read more
(…) The artist transformed into a gifted interpreter as the Robert Schumann piano concerto began. As though he had been dealing with this kind of music for ages, he played so vigorously, clearly and in such an obvious way that one just can’t imagine it could have been performed otherwise.Read more
The Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz returned to Rome on Friday evening where he displayed a brilliant performance in the Santa Cecilia Hall in Auditorium Parco della Musica. (…) the pianist was received enthusiastically and cordially whereas for the audience it was an amazing evening, full of excellent virtuosity and elegance, eloquently applied for the sake of music.Read more
Pianist Rafal Blechacz performed a wide-ranging recital Tuesday night at Wertheim Performing Arts Center. The formidable Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz excelled in a recital that spanned from the Baroque to late romantic era Tuesday night at Florida International University’s Wertheim Auditorium. The event was jointly presented by Friends of Chamber Music and the Chopin Foundation of the United StatesRead more
Already in the variations about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Lison Dormaiy KV 264, the Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz presented his skills: perfect fluency and a gift for conjuring up feelings so naturally. Greater demands are stated by the Piano Sonata c-moll Op.8 No. 1, in which Karol Szymanowski presented all his virtues at the beginning of his career as a composer.Read more
(…) outstanding performance of the Chopin from the 26-year-old Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz. We and the LPO were lucky to get him. Blechacz has been developing an impressive career since he swept the board at the 2005 Chopin Competition (…).Read more
Many roads lead to Chopin, many start from Chopin. Rafał Blechacz sets off to search these roads, to Bach and Mozart and to – still not well known enough – the fellow countryman, Karol Szymanowski. With great power and incredible inside tension he presents monumental Sonata c-moll op.8 No. 1, which in an eclectic way connects numerous influences and combines them in a fascinating wholeness originating from late romanticism.Read more Read more
Rafał Blechacz, the extraordinarily talented young generation pianist of international reputation. At the age of 20 he won the Frederick Chopin Award in Warsaw and keeps developing himself. This recital proves his strong and intriguing personality which is thriving more and more year by year. He is not only a virtuoso, the piano is just brought to life under his fingers. How fascinating!Read more
Having attained a success in the last year’s season, the return of Rafał Blechacz - the unquestionable winner of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 2005 - to Auditorium Santa Cecilia was very much expected. Since then the pianist has been pursuing his wonderful international career.Read more
Rafał Blechacz belongs to this exclusive circle of artists who are out of this world. Being only 25 years old he has all the features one would expect in the best performer. He proved this in a very clear way at Teatro Victoria Eugenia yesterday, where he seemed to change the hall acoustics through the beauty of the sound he produced. Blechacz demonstrated that he is not just a machine that emits proper sounds of master quality but has also a genuine ability to be enraptured with music from the moment he begins to play.Read more
The Colosseum hall in Lübeck was filled to capacity during the Polish pianist concert (...) The first half of the programme was like a foundation. Bach's Partita No. 1 that opened the recital was a tribute to this unsurpassed and admired master. Blechacz plays the dance passages swiftly without academic stiffness. For a 25 year old his dexterity is magnificent. Every generation is entitled to rediscover Johann Sebastian Bach in its own way.Read more
(...) Afterwards the concert by the winner took place. During the performance Blechacz`s artistic qualities have blossomed just like a flower: by means of Bach he created the stem, he used Debussy to present the bud and Szymanowski to form the corolla while Chopin completed this beautiful flower of meaningful sound.Read more Read more
It is a rarity indeed so that so many outstanding young pianists aged 20-25, would set the trend to grand stages. All perform Chopin this year. However, only few of them play as well as Rafał Blechacz.Read more Read more
Pianist Rafal Blechacz's impressive debut at the Kennedy Center No cheap sports analogies are necessary to explain the magnitude of pianist Rafal Blechacz's win at the 15th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in 2005.Read more
(...) Blechacz is completely in his element when it comes to execute with an utmost clarity and focus the right tone from a variety of countless nuances in the noble melancholy of Chopin's music. And so, the technical difficulties are not an issue for him as the 24 year old International Chopin Competition winner proved it in Karol Szymanowski`s dark but splendid variations devoted to Arthur Rubinstein.Read more Read more
Blechacz’s approach to Bach’s Italian Concerto was thoroughly unromantic. It brought a freshness to the perhaps overplayed piece that was young, light, and spirited, with a beautiful, plaintive but unsentimental and sometimes prayerlike cantilena in the second movement.Read more
Those who several months ago heard Lang Lang playing Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 in the Concertgebouw and now juxtapose it with Blechacz`s performance can reach only one conclusion: Lang Lang was playing Chopin but Blechacz had become Chopin.Read more
Because many in the audience at each Gilmore International Keyboard Festival have played the piano, few Festival programs give as much pleasure as solo piano recitals performed by exceptionally gifted players.Read more
The International Chopin Competition delivered sought after coryphaeuses; Maurizio Pollini and Krystian Zimmerman are considered to be the most famous ones. The last competition winner (2005) was Rafał Blechacz who is 22 now.Read more Read more Read more Read more
”Sensational!” some shouted. “He’s got everything before him,” others spoke in admiration. On Saturday, in Salle Médran (it was raining that evening), a Pole, Rafał Blechacz, caused a sensation by his unexpected performance instead of Lang Lang.Read more
He played the waltzes with charm and grace, clear and inspired were the études, the nocturne reflective and light at the same time; Barcarolle beautiful and with perfect dramaturgy, wondrous Scherzo in E-major. His performance was pure, his pianism clear, both moving and entrancing.Read more
PKN ORLEN has taken up the role of the sponsor for an extraordinary artistic event – the 15th edition of the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition. In addition, the company has financed the radio broadcasts of concerts together with the numerous events accompanying the contest.
As an active and responsible participant in public life PKN ORLEN committed itself to provide comprehensive financial assistance to the Chopin Piano Competition. The company’s intense involvement in the projects related to the contest constitutes the continuation of the concern’s praiseworthy endeavours intended to preserve the national heritage in the form of Chopin’s music.
The International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition was held for the first time in 1927 and it ranks among the oldest such musical festivals worldwide. It is universally perceived as one of the most significant cultural events enjoying well-deserved reputation and widespread recognition. This special occasion does not merely offer an opportunity for young musicians to compete against each other. It also serves as a valuable forum for exchange of views and ideas on the condition of Polish culture in general as well as provides a perfect venue for critics, musicologists, leading figures from the world of mass media, politics and economy, and last but not least for music lovers from all over the world.
The 15th edition of the competition was exceptional owing to the record number of competitors who entered for the contest. As many as 323 pianists took part in the competition preliminaries, out of whom 12 contestants managed to qualify for the grand final.
For years the Chopin Piano Competition has been accompanied by a number of additional events including occasional concerts, performances, meetings and press supplements. PKN ORLEN acted as the exclusive sponsor for the radio broadcasts and coverage featured on the 2nd Programme of Polish Radio – the only radio station where you could listen to the concerts broadcasts. They have always been enormously popular with listeners.
Besides, the company subsidized the special supplement to Rzeczpospolita newspaper devoted entirely to the 15th edition of the Piano Competition, its history, pianists and outstanding personalities. The insert also included a unique record with Frédéric Chopin’s music performed by Krzysztof Jabłoński.
What is more, PKN ORLEN became the exclusive partner in the OPEN FOR CHOPIN cycle of concerts organized in cooperation with Radio RMF FM Classic. During the sequence of events taking place in Cracow, Warsaw, Gdynia, Wroclaw and Szczecin the inhabitants of these cities were offered the opportunity to listen to Chopin’s music in both traditional and – somewhat unconventional – jazz renditions. The concerts were played by Janusz Olejniczak, Bartłomiej Kominek and Urszula Dudziak together with Michał Urbaniak.
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