Russian Yulianna Avdeeva wins Chopin Piano Competition

By Monika Scislowska
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 21, 2010

WARSAW -- A jury of the world's leading pianists awarded the Chopin Piano Competition to Russian Yulianna Avdeeva, the first woman to win the prestigious classical music competition in 45 years.

Avdeeva, 25, was selected by the jury for the gold medal and $41,500. Winning the title opens the doors to the best concert halls around the globe and deals with recording companies.

"I'm very excited -- it is difficult to describe in words, but I'm very, very happy to be here," said Avdeeva, adding that she had been working toward this her "whole life."

Avdeeva said she was so taken by the music, she had no time to think of the competition, which involves three grueling weeks of performing the works of Poland's beloved 19th-century composer, Frederic Chopin.

"Chopin's music is so very special, I was enjoying every performance because I was not thinking about the competition, but was thinking about the music only," Avdeeva said of the competition, which culminates in concerts of the 10 finalists performing with an orchestra.

Held once every five years, the contest is known for its tough judging -- in 1990 and 1995, none of the contestants was deemed good enough to win.

Martha Argerich, a past winner and member of the jury, said the panel was impressed by the searching quality in Avdeeva's performance.

"She's a very harmonious artist. She's always searching for some kind of truth," Argerich said. "I am extremely happy about Yulianna, and particularly because she is the first woman after 45 years. After me there was no lady, so I am very happy -- double -- for this."

The runner-up prizes were shared between Ingolf Wunder, a 25-year-old Austrian, and Moscow-born Lithuanian Lukas Geniusas, 20. Third prize went to Daniil Trifonov, 19, of Russia.

-- Associated Press

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