Maintaining high standards at the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition

Raymond Chen

The quintennial International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition will be held later this year, and I was reminded that the awards for “Best performance of a mazurka” and “Best performance of a concerto” have not been awarded since 1985. Simply put: Nobody since 1985 has been good enough to deserve it.

The year 1995 was a particularly bad year for Chopin-lovers. The judges for Competition XIII concluded that none of the 130 entrants deserved any of the four big-name prizes.

  • First prize – not awarded.
  • Best perfomance of the mazurkas – not awarded.
  • Best performance of a polonaise – not awarded.
  • Best performance of a concerto – not awarded.

(This wasn’t the first time the judges refused to award first prize. It happened five years earlier as well.)