Courtesy of Arnaldo Volani via Genius Piano Kids/ Talented Girls Facebook site

President of Yury M° Marcello Abbado

Founded in 1961 by Dame Fanny Waterman DBE and Marion Thorpe CBE, the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition is now in its 48th year. It remains in the league of the world's top ten piano competitions including the Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Rubinstein and America's Van Cliburn and is world renowned for being well organized. The whole city seems to be involved and the people encourage a cordial atmosphere with the competitors who are very much welcomed to Leeds. The Leeds' as it is affectionately known, has attracted an abundance of potential winners to each of the fifteen Competitions, and will do so again for the sixteenth Competition in 2009.
Dame Fanny Waterman and Marion Thorpe, with Benjamin Britten
But what makes young pianists submit to this grueling ordeal? Few would admit to enjoying the competitive experience but many would agree it is the fairest and most obvious way of introducing themselves to the public.

It has been said that any Competition is as good as its Jury and at each edition of the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition there has been a tradition of selecting jury members of international caliber with expertise, a wide knowledge of the piano repertoire and the skills of the pianist. Some of the world's most eminent professors have been included in the Leeds' Jury of fifteen members because they have experience in dealing with the competitors' variances of style and interpretation.

Although prizes are awarded to winners, highly prestigious engagements are offered to the Competition thus allowing not just the winner, but any prize-winner, to be the recipient of such invitations. Competitors are encouraged to capitalize on their experience at Leeds especially in respect of the media exposure which they are guaranteed to receive and particularly an abundance of exposure given to the finalists. Rewards will vary, yet careers will flourish from their exposure at Leeds; many runners-up have achieved success on the international concert platform.

Winners at Leeds will be adjudicated critically by the press and will have to prove adept at producing quality performances on the concert platform. After the success at Leeds, the winner is thrown out into the cold to be instantly measured against previous winners of 'the Leeds' and the glut of professional pianists world-wide. It is vital therefore, for any young pianist to attract a top manager, who will remove the pressure of self-promotion and the negotiation of fees but who has the contacts to lead a career along the right paths.

The future of ‘the Leeds’ depends on the standard of future winners and in August 2009, 80 outstandingly talented young pianists will arrive in Leeds to compete in the First Stage, which is held in the Great Hall, University of Leeds.

The first Leeds, back in 1963, was controversially won by a 17 year old English pianist called Michael Roll who was in contention with a Russian called Vladimir Krainiev. Michael Roll was a pupil of Fanny Waterman, but Krainiev was clearly the public’s favourite. An irate member of the audience actually attacked a BBC executive who said he agreed with the verdict.

One is forced to wonder if the result of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow was a reciprocal of this. Britain’s Freddy Kempf was controversially given only the third prize amidst a barrage of indignant protests from the audience and the Russian press, who accused some of the judges of bias (especially towards contestants who also happened to be their former pupils). Russia’s own Denis Matsuev won first. Now you know why I said I didn’t like piano competitions.

Do You Remember...................

........back when the Leeds Piano Competition was on BBC2? Ah yes, the good old days. It was broadcast LIVE. The finals occurred on Friday and Saturday nights from the Leeds Town Hall. We got three piano concertos on each of the two nights, live, as it was happening.

Then came BBC4. Last time (in 2006) the six concertos were recorded and shown the following week, one performance per night for the whole week.

Now look what we're reduced to: From Friday 18 September 2009 onwards, BBC4 will broadcast one concerto from each of the six finalists over six weeks. The times have not yet been confirmed.

What's going to happen in 2012? It'll go the same way as the cricket, Radio  only. That's the way the BBC is going now, get the culture off television, make way for more low cost reality and fly-on-the-wall garbage. Last night, they were asking the question, would Britain be better off without the BBC?  I'd like to think not, but when this sort of thing goes on and they continue to fund fat cat salaries for parasites, I begin to wonder.

On the upside of this, I think that the shift from the live broadcast has seen an end to that farcical idea that came upon us in 2003, when the viewing public were invited to vote. What do they (we) know? How ridiculous that a fine artist's career can be influenced by the voting public. That reduces it's calibre to that of the X Factor and/or Britain's Got Talent (really?).

I'm not really a great fan of piano competitions. It truly is unfortunate that, as stated in ‘Judgement Daze’ (Letters April/May (Pianist Magazine), the only way many pianists can get on is by winning competitions. I don’t know if it’s true that the best don’t win, but I would like to see pianists’ careers launched by giving a performance in front of a large crowd without the competition element, the presentation of the performers’  talent to an audience being the only criterion.

I feel that there are many pianists whose names we’ll never know – clearly this is a minority sport where there are more performers than there is a demand for. It’s a travesty, that the world's most brilliant pianists can walk down the street in almost every city of the world and not be recognised by Joe Public, something that the likes of Sir Elton John couldn’t undergo. Furthermore, pianists are obviously not chasing money. The fifth prize in the last Leeds came to £3000.00 for which the competitor had travelled from Taiwan. David Beckham probably earns that with every kick of the ball. The keyboard player (Adrian Wright) in the group “The Human League”, who plays backing chords with only his right hand, undoubtedly earned more than most distinguished pianists during the 1980s with the “Dare” album.

It all proves that it’s not talent that makes us rich; it’s bums on seats and record sales, howsoever achieved.

My Appraisal of the 2009 Competiton 

Jianing Kong

A 23 year old Chinese kid took the stage first, Jianing Kong - pronounced Kung (no, not King). That was on BBC4 last night. He played Beethoven's Fifth (the Emperor). Three contestants have selected this piece this year. It must be boring for the audience especially if all three come on one night.
Cristina Ortiz (WHAT A PIANIST SHE IS) was giving critical comment - so was Lucy Parham.
Cristina didn't like the performance at all, gave it thumbs down. I must say that I noticed some nervousness leading to wrong notes being hit at the beginning. It's easier to be critical when you know the piece and I do know this one very well. Cristina was more critical of the second movement though. I'm not sure about that personally, I'll have to play it through again, but at first hearing, it sounded OK to me, but I'm not Cristina Ortiz. Beethoven is what she's really good at. I've got a boxed set of CDs by her playing all five Beethoven Concerti, so she must know what's she's talking about.

Rachel Cheong

Age 17 from China

The second contestant was a 17-year-old girl called Rachel Cheung, also from China. Have you noticed how many Chinese people have English first names these days? Sarah, Vanessa, Albert, Joe etc. This girl  played Rachy Two, a popular choice in the history of the contest. I remember a Russian guy called Dennis came third in the contest three years ago playing Rach 2.
I thought this girl did extremely well with the piece; it’s not the easiest thing on the planet to play, especially the third movement. I remember wondering, as she neared the end of the slow dreamy second movement, as I noticed the sweat pouring down her face, and remembering that there's hardly a break between the second and third, would she be able to get her fingers into gear for this? The speed at the beginning of the third is unbelievable. It's hardly conceivable that human fingers can move so quickly and accurately over those keys. But, she did it, brilliantly I thought. I know this piece quite well, so at any stage of it, I know what's coming next, as, no doubt, Cristina Ortiz does.

When the girl had finished playing, the crowd went sky high with their applause - Marc Elder, the conductor of the Halle Orchestra told her that she'd played very well. I have a lot of respect for his comments, and now, more than I do for Cristina Ortiz's and Lucy Parham’s views.
Likewise with the previous contestant, they repeated themselves almost word for word. "This wasn't the right choice of concerto for this contestant, she should have chosen maybe a Chopin or Mozart."

If she had chosen a Mozart, I do know her chances of winning would have been almost zero. It's only been done once in the history of the contest.

I'm beginning to wonder about Cristina Ortiz and Lucy Parham  now. They have found nothing good to say about the performances so far. The judges must have held them in high regard because these contestants are in the final six out of 83 initial entrants. I suspect these two compare the performances of the contestants with their own abilities. Can they remember this girl (Rachel) is only 17 years old? Can they take on board that until she gave the live performance of it on this occasion, she had never played the concerto with an orchestra. That must have been un-nerving to say the least. Although Ortiz and Parham can play it better now, how would they have done at 17 years old? I think I'll wait for the judges’ verdicts, but no matter what, these two Chinese kids ARE in the top six, and this contest is in the top three in the world, so they must be well up there.

David Kadouch

The contestant was a 23 year old from France This was the second performance of Beethoven's Fifth, The Emperor. Amazingly, Cristina Ortiz and Lucy Parham both gave this performance the thumbs UP, can you believe? In fact, they couldn't find a single word of critcism. I recant my earlier comments ; I'd assumed that they had a pre-determined plan to disparage all of the contestants. One thing they did say about tonight's artist was that he was performing, rather than competing, which led to a better presentation. Maybe they don't like Chinese pianists. Lang Lang won't be a hit with them if that's true.

Personally, I expected them to criticise his rendition of the second movement. I thought he hammered this very gentle movement too fiercely. I'm used to it being lowered onto my ears very graciously, like a servant might deliver a drink to the queen. But, they didn't pick up on that, so again, what do I know?

It was interesting to be allowed a couple of minutes with Ulrich Gerhartz, commonly known as the most powerful man in music (I think Roy, my piano tuner, said he'd met him). He's the chief technician at Steinway who tweaks up pianos like a personal recipe for the top pianists in the world. Amazingly, he just pulled out the action from this Model D as casually and easily as the rest of us would pull out a drawer in the kitchen. Then he started to probe and prod with tools that look like those that a dentist would use (speaking of which, yes, next Monday, Aaarrgghh!!!).

Lucy Parham, it has to be said, is quite a looker. Yes, I fancy her, she can take me home at any time she wishes. Cristina isn't bad either, albeit somewhat older. Anyway, we're going off topic. I need to behave myself, if that's possible.

I think the French kid played well, despite my little gripe about the second movement. He's still growing, just like the others. We saw him practising with the orchestra before the concert. He was dressed in casual clothing. I remember thinking, "I hope he dresses like that on the night, it'll make my day. Even more so if he wins."

I heard one time that Martha Argerich, who was on the jury of a piano competition, walked out in protest because one of the contestants was rejected by the other judges, not for his piano playing ability, but for what he was wearing. I wonder if the contestant was Ivo Pogorelich, the Croatian pianist. I know she did walk out of that one because she claimed he was a genius, but he was rejected at the third round. That was at the Frederick Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1980.

Alessandro Taverna

The fourth contestant is a 25 year old Italian called Alessandro Taverna. He played Chopin's No 1. My own observations (what do I know? I'm only a novice!!) indicate that he did extremely well, but I'm not an expert as such.

But, that aside, what convinced me that I was right was when the TV camera caught a quick shot of Dame Fanny at the end of the performance. Now, I have to say that in all the years I've been following this competition, I have never seen Dame Fanny looking any more cheerful than the queen does on Christmas Day. What do they find to be so miserable about in their circumstances? However, on this occasion, the dame was absolutely beaming and she pointed both of her thumbs towards the ceiling. I've never seen that before.

So, unless anyone better comes along, I guess we have a winner tonight. Even Cristina Ortiz and Lucy Parham praised it to the hilt. Huw Edwards said to them, "Before you say anything, I want to say that was brilliant, Lucy, what do you say?"
She replied, "It was spellbinding, absolutely marvelous; I thought it was the best performance of Chopin's First Piano Concerto that I have ever heard. It was as if pearls were falling from his fingertips. The slow movement was just like a velvet cushion. I think he's a prince of the piano.

Cristina Ortiz said, " It was pure poetry; he had me in tears actually."
Huw then asked, "Do we have the makings of a winner?"
Cristina: "No problem."
Lucy: "Absolutely."

So, it has to be said by me that no woman has ever won this competition despite the whole thing having been started by two women back in 1963. It looks like the trend isn't about to change this year. (Forget that, I've had a sneaky look at the website and a Russian woman won. She's the first. I can't wait for her performancee on TV. That should be shown two weeks from now, on October 23rd. "Exquisite" Alessandro only made third place despite all the praises of tonight's critics).
I'll have to check the details on this because I forget things, but I do believe that Cristina Ortiz herself was due to participate in the contest back in her youth, but had to drop out for some reason, illness I think. It might be reasonable to believe that she would have won had she taken part as planned because she did win the Van Cliburn one time.
Where is Yuja Wang (see elsewhere on this site)? Why doesn't she enter this? She'd definitely be in with a chance of taking it to the female gender.  

Alexej Gorlatch

Age 21 from Ukraine 

After last week’s acclaim from the critics (Cristina Ortiz and Lucy Parham) and the visual gesticulation from Dame Fanny, one would think it impossible for the Italian lad to be beaten, yet, he only came third. Tonight’s contestant came second. Alexej Gorlatch gave us a third rendition of Beethoven’s Fifth, The Emperor. I’ll agree that his version was the best; he didn’t hammer the delicate second movement like the other two did.

The critics used the words ‘pearls’ and velvet’ again when referring to how he handled it. He certainly had quite a dynamic range; some louds and softs were very close together, even in the same phrase. 

I thought the audience’s response was disappointing. It was almost formal and courteous. We see more appreciation given to Gordon Brown and David Cameron at their conferences, when all they have to offer is a string of words that the already converted audience wants to hear. For that, they get a standing ovation. At this concert, not one audience member stood to applaud. I must say that the audience members at rock and pop concerts certainly do appreciate their idols more than they do at the Leeds.

We already know from the above chart that next week’s contestant is the overall winner. I tend to hope that she wasn’t selected because there has never been a female winner before and it’s time we had one. That would be grossly unfair. She has of course chosen the Brahms No 1, which is what Sunwook Kim won it with three years ago. Maybe the choice of concerto has quite a bearing on the outcome. We do know that Mozart rarely wins, Brahms and Rach often do.

There was an interview with Dame Fanny in her own living room on tonight's broadcast. Some phortos of her in her relative youth were shown. She looked remarkably like Princess Ann when she was younger.

Sofya Gulyak

Well, I have to say it, I don't think I agree with the judges on this. As I suspected, I think this contestant won it because it's time a woman did and I think it's unfair to the two previous performers. But hey, who said anything about being fair? Maybe it was decided on day one.

Quite frankly, I am amazed that the male contestants can play at all; I couldn't do it while dressed as they are. Whoever decided how men and women should dress clearly thought that the male body feels the cold more than the female, which is absoluteely not true. The men have a shirt with long sleeves and the top button of the shirt has to be fastened, then a dickie bow tie is attached to squeeze the neck almost to a state of pain, let alone discomfort. Then, as if that isn't bad enough, they wear jackets, so a double coating along the arms where all the activity of piano playing is focused. Three years ago, the eventual winner, Sunwook Kim was clearly suffering from this. He was frequently wiping the sweat from his face and also the piano keys because it had dripped from his face to the piano. Women have nothing squeezing their necks and only one lair of light cloth covers their arms. 

Anyway,  Sofya IS the oldest contestant and she did come with the right attitude. Maybe that's why she won. She said at the start that winning wasn't important to her, what she really wanted to do was just to play. With this, perhaps she didn't have any nerves bothering her, perhaps she was more relaxed. But I'm a little worried over the about face comments by the experts, Cristina Ortiz and Lucy Parham. Before the result was announced, they both said that they weren't moved:

Ortiz - "Not the most moving of players, but you can't fault her....."

Lucy Parham ".............but for me as a member of the audience, it just left me a bit cold. I just wanted to be moved more, especially in the slow movement......"

So, despite the comments of near perfection, there were just a couple of minuses, whereas with the two previous contestants, there were no minuses, just loads of plusses.

Personally, I found the piece somewhat boring. Maybe it'll need to grow on me, I'll have to listen to it more. There's a saying about classical music: "We don't know what we like, we like what we know."

But as I watched and listened to this, I rarely saw any parts of it that left me speechless, thinking, "Wowee, no way, I could NEVER do that" whereas with the Tchaikovsky, especially the third movement, the demisemiquaver chords require the two hands to be so fiery and active, that it looks like a flock of pigeons are flying around the keyboard 

With the third movementt of the Rach 2, the speed of the runs in that make one wonder where the transitions between the notes are, it's as if someone was sliding a finger along the string of a guitar or violin, not hittingg percussive keys on a piano.

Cristina Ortiz, when asked who her winner was, she went for Allesandro Taverna.  Lucy said the Chopin (Allesandro) had a tiny edge over Alexej Gorlatch. Huw Edwards gave it to Alexej. I'm with the lasses, I'll go for Allesandro. But, the judges are the judges and as Anne Robinson would say, "'s votes that count.". I have to just say here that the winner was the only performance that I didn't enjoy, I was bored throughout. But what the heck?

Well, that's it for another three years. This contest clashed with the Proms, the next one will clash with the Olympics. No wonder the hoi polloi never discuss it these days, nobody knows it's happening. It's been tucked away in a BBC bottom drawer now whereas it once held the limelight of a live broadcast on BBC2. Well, we have to make room for the more crowd pulling stuff like the V Festival and the Reading Festival. We are a minority sport folks. Take care, see y'all in 2012.

2012 Winners

First Prize - Federico Colli
Second Prize - Louis Schwizgebel
Third Prize - Jiayan Sun
Fourth Prize - Andrejs Osokins
Fifth Prize - Andrew Tyson
Sixth Prize - Jayson Gillham

Terence Judd-Halle Orchestra Prize - Andrew Tyson
Federico Colli
Italy (24)

Studied at Giuseppe Verdi Music
Conservatory in Milan, Imola International
Piano Academy.

Teachers: Sergio Marengoni, Gian Carlo

Facchinetti, Konstantin Bogino, Boris


First Prize: Salzburg International Mozart

Piano Competition, 2011.

Educational Award: London International

Piano Competition, 2009.

Classical Concerto First Prize Winner &

Romantic Concerto First Prize Winner:
Cantú International Piano and Orchestra
Competition, 2008.

Recitals in Austria, Italy and Japan.

Concerto appearances with Klassische

Philharmonie Bonn, Brescia Bergamo
International Festival Orchestra and Rome
Symphony Orchestra.

First Stage

Mozart: Sonata in G major, K283
Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Paganini,
Op. 35, Book I

Second Stage

Schubert: Impromptu No. 2 in A flat major,
Op. Posth. 142
Beethoven: Sonata in F minor, Op. 57
Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit

Semi Final

Mozart: Variations in F major on
‘Salve tu, Domine’ K398
Chopin: Scherzo in C sharp minor, Op. 39
Scriabin: Sonata No. 10 Op. 70
Britten: Night Piece ‘Notturno’
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition


Beethoven: Concerto No. 5 in E flat major,
Op. 73

International Tchaikovsky Competition

The International Tchaikovsky Competition is a classical music competition in Moscow, Russia. Named after Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, it has been scheduled to take place in Moscow every four years since 1958. However, in 2006 the competition was delayed by one year, and the next competition took place in 2007, after which the competition will resume the quadrennial schedule, thus being like an Olympiad of music.

To maintain the high level of the competition the organizers have implemented significant changes for the 2007 competition. From 2007 onwards, (i) the organizing committee will provide assistance for the laureates in arranging concerts around the world; (ii) the jury's voting system changes from closed-point voting to open voting; and (iii) the competition is broadcast on the internet.

Originally the competition was for pianists and violinists only. Cellists were added starting with the second competition in 1962, and vocalists with the third in 1966. Since 1990 there has also been a competition for violin makers who compete in craftsmanship of violin, viola, and cello and their respective bows. No other categories have been added since then.

The competition is organized by a committee of prominent Russian musicians and managed by the Russian State Concert Company (Sodruzhestvo). International juries of notable soloists, music professors, music directors and prior Competition winners are selected to judge the performances and choose the prize winners.

Three elimination rounds are held throughout the month of June. Currently, 26 prizes are awarded: six in each instrumental category and four each for male and female vocalists. Sometimes, however, no one wins first prize, or it may be shared between competitors. This can also occur with the lesser prizes. In earlier years, up to eight prizes were awarded.

Winners of the top prize awarded in the given year and category (first prize, unless otherwise noted).


  • 1958: Van Cliburn

  • 1962: Vladimir Ashkenazy and John Ogdon shared first prize. Yin Chengzong and Susan Starr shared second prize.

  • 1966: Grigory Sokolov

  • 1970: Vladimir Krainev and John Lill shared first prize.

  • 1974: Andrei Gavrilov

  • 1978: Mikhail Pletnev

  • 1982: No first prize awarded. Peter Donohoe and Vladimir Ovchinnikov shared second prize.

  • 1986: Barry Douglas

  • 1990: Boris Berezovsky

  • 1994: No first prize awarded. Nikolai Lugansky won second prize.

  • 1998: Denis Matsuev

  • 2002: Ayako Uehara

2007: No first prize awarded. Miroslav Kultyshev won second prize.

                           Van Cliburn 

Van Cliburn was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and began taking piano lessons at the age of three from his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn. O'Bryan was taught by Arthur Friedheim, a pupil of Franz Liszt. At six years old, Cliburn moved with his family to Kilgore, Texas, and at 12 he won a statewide piano competition which enabled him to debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. He entered the Juilliard School at age 17, and studied under Rosina Lhévinne, who trained him in the tradition of the great Russian romantics. At age 20, Cliburn won the Leventritt Award, and made his Carnegie Hall debut.

It was his recognition in Moscow that propelled Cliburn to international fame. The first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 was an event designed to demonstrate Soviet cultural superiority during the Cold War, on the heels of their technological victory with the Sputnik launch in October 1957. Cliburn's performance at the competition finale of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 earned him a standing ovation lasting eight minutes. When it was time to announce a winner, the judges were obliged to ask permission of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to give first prize to an American. "Is he the best?" Khrushchev asked. "Then give him the prize!" Cliburn returned home to a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the only time the honor has been accorded a classical musician. His cover story in Time proclaimed him "The Texan Who Conquered Russia."

Upon returning to the United States, Cliburn appeared in a Carnegie Hall concert with the Symphony of the Air, conducted by Kirill Kondrashin, who had led the Moscow Philharmonic in the prize-winning performances in Moscow. The performance of the Rachmaninoff 3rd Piano Concerto at this concert was subsequently released by RCA Victor on both LP and CD. Cliburn was also invited by Steve Allen to play a solo during Allen's prime time NBC television program on April 14, 1958.

RCA Victor signed him to an exclusive contract, and his subsequent recording of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 became the first classical album to go platinum. It was the best-selling classical album in the world for more than a decade, eventually going triple-platinum. Cliburn won the 1958 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance for this recording. In 2004, this recording was re-mastered from the original studio analogue tapes, and released in the highest quality ever on high-resolution Super Audio CD.

Other famous concerti Cliburn has recorded include the Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 and No. 5 "Emperor", and the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3.
In 1958, during a dinner hosted by the National Guild of Piano Teachers, President and Founder Dr. Irl Allison announced a cash prize of $10,000 to be used for a piano competition named in Van Cliburn’s honor. Under the leadership of Grace Ward Lankford and with the dedicated efforts of local music teachers and volunteers, the First Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was held September 24-October 7, 1962 at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. The quadrennial competition is hosted by the Van Cliburn Foundation and its prestige now rivals that of the Tchaikovsky Competition. Van Cliburn continues to serve as Director Emeritus for the Van Cliburn Foundation, host of the competition and other programs honoring Cliburn’s legacy.

Cliburn returned to the Soviet Union on several occasions. His performances were usually recorded and even televised. A videotape of his 1962 performance of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with Kirill Kondrashin and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra documents that Premier Khrushchev was in the audience, joining in the enthusiastic applause. A 1972 concert performance of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 with Kondrashin and the Moscow orchestra, as well as a studio recording of Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, were later issued on CD by RCA Victor.

On May 26, 1972, Cliburn gave a concert at Spaso House, the residence of the United States Ambassador to Russia, for an audience which included President Richard Nixon, Secretary of State William Rogers, and Soviet government officials.

Cliburn performed and recorded through the 1970s, but in 1978, after the deaths of his father and manager, began a hiatus from public life. In 1987, he was invited to perform at the White House for President Ronald Reagan and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, and afterward was invited to open the 100th anniversary season of Carnegie Hall. In 1994, Cliburn made a guest appearance in the cartoon Iron Man, playing himself in the episode "Silence My Companion, Death My Destination". Now over 70, he still gives a limited number of performances every year, to critical and popular acclaim. He has played for royalty and heads of state from dozens of countries, and for every President of the United States from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama.
He begins every concert with The Star-Spangled Banner.

                                Van Cliburn Way in the Fort Worth Cultural District


Cliburn received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2001. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003 by President George W. Bush, and, in October 2004, the Russian Order of Friendship, the highest civilian awards of the two countries. He was also awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award the same year and played at a surprise 50th birthday party for United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He was a member of the Alpha Chi Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and was awarded the fraternity's Charles E. Lutton Man of Music Award in 1962. He was presented a 2010 National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

Personal life

In 1998, Cliburn was named in a lawsuit by his alleged domestic partner of seventeen years, mortician Thomas Zaremba. In the suit, Zaremba claimed entitlement to a portion of Cliburn's income and assets and went on to charge that he might have been exposed to HIV, claiming emotional distress. Each claim was subsequently dismissed by an Appellate Court, holding that palimony suits are not permitted in the state of Texas unless the relationship is based on a written agreement.
Cliburn is known as a night owl. He often practices until 4:30 or 5 am, waking around 1:30 p.m. "You feel like you're alone and the world's asleep, and it's very inspiring."

Cliburn, a Baptist, attends church every week and neither drinks nor smokes.

                         International Tchaikovsky Competition

The International Tchaikovsky Competition is a classical music competition held every four years in Moscow, Russia for pianists, violinists, and cellists between 16 and 30 years of age, and singers between 19 and 32 years of age. The competition is named after Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and is an active member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions.

For the XIV competition in 2011, Valery Gergiev has been appointed Chairman of the Competition, and Richard Rodzinski, former president of the Van Cliburn Foundation, has been appointed Chair of the Working Committee. A new voting system will be instituted, created by mathematician John MacBain, and used by the International Violin Competition in Indianapolis, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and the Cleveland International Piano Competition. All rules and regulations have also undergone a complete revision. Emphasis is being placed on the composition of the jury, which is to consist primarily of well-known and respected performing artists. Finally, for all competitions from 2011 forward, a first prize will always be awarded.
The XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition was held in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, from June 14 to July 1, 2011, under the auspices of the Russian Federal Government and its Ministry of Culture. The Competition disciplines are piano, violin, cello and voice (male singers and female singers).

In 1998, Freddy Kempf's award of third, rather than first, prize in the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow provoked protests from the audience and an outcry in the Russian press, which proclaimed him "the hero of the competition". His international career was rapidly established and his unprecedented popularity with Russian audiences has since been reflected in numerous sold-out concerts and television broadcasts.

 Winners of the top prize awarded in the given year and category (first prize, unless otherwise noted).
[edit] Piano
    •    1958: Van Cliburn
    •    1962: Vladimir Ashkenazy and John Ogdon shared first prize. Yin Chengzong and Susan Starr shared second prize.
    •    1966: Grigory Sokolov
    •    1970: Vladimir Krainev and John Lill shared first prize.
    •    1974: Andrei Gavrilov
    •    1978: Mikhail Pletnev
    •    1982: No first prize awarded. Peter Donohoe and Vladimir Ovchinnikov shared second prize.
    •    1986: Barry Douglas
    •    1990: Boris Berezovsky
    •    1994: No first prize awarded. Nikolai Lugansky won second prize.
    •    1998: Denis Matsuev
    •    2002: Ayako Uehara
    •    2007: No first prize awarded. Miroslav Kultyshev won second prize.
    •    2011: Daniil Trifonov

 In 1998, Freddy Kempf's award of third, rather than first, prize in the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow provoked protests from the audience and an outcry in the Russian press, which proclaimed him "the hero of the competition". His international career was rapidly established and his unprecedented popularity with Russian audiences has since been reflected in numerous sold-out concerts and television broadcasts.

                  Cleveland International Piano Competition

The Cleveland International Piano Competition takes place biennially in Cleveland, Ohio. The initial Competition in 1975 and the nine others that followed were sponsored jointly by the Robert Casadesus Society and the Cleveland Institute of Music to honor the memory of French pianist Robert Casadesus. As a result, the Competition was then called the Casadesus International Piano Competition. In 1994, a new organization was formed: the Piano International Association of Northern Ohio (PIANO).
The first Competition with the new name of “Cleveland” took place in August 1995. The 2001 Competition finals were held at Severance Hall with the Cleveland Competition Orchestra conducted by Jahja Ling. The success of this venture led to negotiations in 2003 with the Musical Arts Association resulting in the engagement of the Cleveland Orchestra to play for the four finalists at Severance Hall.
The Cleveland International Piano Competition is a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions.


Table showing: prize winners from the Cleveland (1995-2007) and Casadesus (1975-1993) International Piano Competitions.
Fifth and Sixth prizes were eliminated after 1991.
Year First Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth
2011 Alexander Schimpf
Germany Germany
Alexei Chernov
Russia Russia
Eric Zuber
United States USA
Kyu Yeon Kim
South Korea South Korea

2009 Martina Filjak
Croatia Croatia
Dmitri Levkovich
Canada Canada
William Youn
South Korea South Korea
Evgeny Brakhman
Russia Russia

2007[1] Alexander Ghindin
Russia Russia
Yaron Kohlberg
Israel Israel
Alexandre Moutouzkine
Russia Russia
Ran Dank
Israel Israel

2005 Chu-Fang Huang
China China
Sergey Kuznetsov
Russia Russia
Stanislav Khristenko
Russia Russia
Spencer Myer
United States USA

2003 Kotaro Fukuma
Japan Japan
Soyeon Lee
South Korea South Korea
Konstantin Soukhovetski
Russia Russia
Andrius Zlabys
Lithuania Lithuania

2001 Roberto Plano
Italy Italy
Minsoo Sohn
South Korea South Korea
Özgür Aydin
Turkey Turkey
Gilles Vonsattel
Switzerland Switzerland

1999 Antonio Pompa-Baldi
Italy Italy
Vassily Primakov
Russia Russia
Shoko Inoue
Japan Japan
Sean Botkin
United States USA

1997 Per Tengstrand
Sweden Sweden
Gulnora Alimova
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan
Ning An
China China
Dror Biran
Israel Israel

1995 Margarita Shevchenko
Russia Russia
Marina Lomazov
Ukraine/United States Ukraine/USA
Dmitri Teterin
Russia Russia
Giampaolo Stuani
Italy Italy

1993 Amir Katz
Israel Israel
Not awarded Seizo Azuma and
Japan Japan
Yuko Nakamichi
Japan Japan
Katsunori Ishii
Japan Japan

1991 Ilya Itin
Russia Russia
Anders Martinson
United States USA
Markus Pawlik
Germany Germany
Jean-François Bouvery
France France
Timothy Bozarth
United States USA
Hsin-Bei Lee
Republic of China/China Taiwan/China
1989 Sergei Babayan
Armenia (Soviet Union) Armenia (USSR)
Nicholas Angelich
United States USA
Megumi Kaneko
Japan Japan
Pascal Godart
France France
François Chaplin
France France
Eglé Januleviciuté
Lithuania (Soviet Union) Lithuania (USSR)
1987 Thierry Huillet
France France
Asaf Zohar
Israel Israel
Jonathan Bass
United States USA
Beatrice Hsin-Chen Long
Republic of China/China Taiwan/China
Takayuki Ito
Japan Japan
Hiroko Atsumi
Japan Japan
1985 Daejin Kim
South Korea South Korea
Benedetto Lupo
Italy Italy
Hélène Jeanney
France France
Neil Rutman
United States USA
Yves Henry
France France
Dan-Wen Wei
China China
1983 Youngshin An
South Korea South Korea
Mayumi Kameda
Japan Japan
Stéphane Lemelin
Canada Canada
Roy Kogan
United States USA
Dimitry Cogan
United States/Soviet Union USA/USSR
Silke-Thora Matthies
West Germany West Germany
1981 Philippe Bianconi
France France
Dan Riddle
United States USA
Rémy Loumbrozo
France France
Roy Kogan
United States USA
Timothy Smith
United States USA
Michael Boriskin
United States USA
1979 Edward Newman
United States USA
Jean-Yves Thibaudet
France France
Angela Hewitt
Canada Canada
Frederick Blum
United States USA
Peter Vinograde
United States USA
Douglas Weeks
United States USA
1977 Nathalie Bera-Tagrine
France France
Barry Salwen
United States USA
Douglas Montgomery
United States USA
Laura Silverman
United States USA
Géry Moutier
France France
Sandra Shuler
United States USA
1975 John Owings
United States USA
Julian Martin
United States USA
John-Patrick Millow
France France
Roe Van Boskirk
United States USA
Katsurako Mikami
Japan Japan
Paweł Chęciński
Poland Poland