Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


Apr 30, 2015

Recitals in Rome, German cities and beyond...

Spring recitals in Rome and three cities in Germany

photo credit:

Johann Sebastian Bach: Italian Concerto BWV 971
Ludwig v. Beethoven: Sonata in c-Moll op. 13 (Pathétique)
Frédéric Chopin:
Nocturne E-Dur op. 62 No. 2
3 Walzer op. 64
3 Mazurkas op. 56
Polonaise fis-Moll op. 44

April 20    Recital for Musikfestspiele Saar (Saar Music Festival)
              @Ludwigskirche in Old Saarbrücken, Germany (baroque style church)

April 22    Recital @Sala Santa Cecilia, Parco della Musica, Rome

April 24    Recital for Heidelberg Festival @Kongresshaus Stadthalle Heidelberg

April 27    Recital @Alte Oper Frankfurt

Pictures:  Rome   Rome   Heidelberg

Previews & Reviews:  Saarbrücken (audio, interview included)
                                  Rome    Rome   Rome  Rome
                                  Heidelberg   Heidelberg
                                  Heidelberg (by Clavisora)  Thanks!

Registration requied:  Il Foglio, Rome, interview,
                              Saarbrücken, review

During the rest of the current season, he'll play Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15, Mozart Piano Concerto No.23 in A major, K.488 several times and give two recitals in Nakło nad Notecią and Bydgoszcz, the cities that helped him grow musically.

Photo credit: Accademia Nazionale di
Santa Cecilia FB

Mar 5, 2015

Two recitals in Italy

March 3 @Conservatorio "G. Verdi"in Milan.

Program page        Program leaflet (PDF)

Review written by Luca Chierici for
"Polish aura in Milan.  The pianist confirms his talent"

Review on fuoridallorbita
"Great interpretation by R. Blechacz

A photo by an audience member

Pictures taken by Polish fans in Milan.
Receiving flowers, giving signs....
(.....) he's completing the dissertation soon (...)

One of the previews

March 2  @Auditorium Manzoni, in Bologna

Program page

Audience member's blog
The author is a professor of Bologna University.

News from his region,
the 2nd Piano Competition for Children and Youth, organized by Niepubliczna Szkoła Muzyczna I Stopnia w Nakle nad Notecią (private music school in Nakło nad Notecią ) under the honorable patronage of Rafał Blechacz will be held on April 18 and 19 in Nakło nad Notecią, his birthplace.  The first Competition was in April last year.

photo credit: II Konkurs Pianistyczny dla Dzieci i Młodzieży

Feb 25, 2015

Music - the most beautiful thing in life, Blechacz played in Warsaw

"For me the past decade has been quite intensive with concert activities. (...) It has been an intensive but happy time.” said Rafał Blechacz reflecting on the past ten years since his victory at the Chopin Competition.

"Fortunately, I have always music existing with me; probably the most beautiful thing that could happen to me in my life. Music has never failed me, never offended me, and has always accompanied me in all the moments of my life”.
Press release (

photo credit: Fiharmonia Narodowa Facebook

Release by the Presidential Office of the Republic of Poland
See other pictures of the concert, Order giving,1423,order-odrodzenia-polski-dla-rafala-blechacza.html

Facebook of Filharmonia Narodowa

On Feb. 24, Rafał Blechacz returned to Warsaw to perform Beethoven's C-minor concerto with the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra (conductor: Jacek Kaspszyk)

program page

Review by Jacek Marczyński on Rzeczpospolita

(.....) all the time the pianist was trying to get a hold of canons of classical form, not letting emotions carry it away. And this is probably the most important feature of Rafał Blechacz's pianism, who does not want to surprise the listener with something unusual, unexpected(.....)

In the first half of the concert, the Orchestra played the 5th symphony of the same composer.
After the intermission, Blechacz appeared.

He gave two encores:Adagio cantabile from Beethoven's sonata in C-minor "Pathétique" and Chopin's Mazurka Op.56-2.

Then he was awarded with Knight's Cross, The Order of Polonia Restituta (meaning The Order of  Rebirth of Poland, one of the highest orders in Poland, only given to outstanding achievements in the fields of education, science, sport, culture, etc..) by Mr. Jacek Michałowski of the Presidential Office on behalf of H.E. President Bronisław Komorowski.  The First Lady H.E.Anna Komorowska was present at the concert.

Following pictures are contributed by a Polish fan who attended the concert in Warsaw.  She said RB's performance was phenomenal.
Big thanks to Ms. A.J ☆彡

Feb 22, 2015

Celebrating Chopin Week 2015

Wszystkiego najlepszego, Panie Chopin!

                             (Recorded on October 13, 2010 @studio, Tokyo)

【Japanese caption in the video】
   英雄ポロネーズ: Heroic Polonaise
   ラファウ・ブレハッチ: Rafał Blechacz

Born in Poland in 1985. Has been fond of church organ in his neighborhood since his infancy. Began piano playing at age of five. In 2005, won the 15th Chopin International Piano Competition as the first Pole in 30 years. His pure sound and unpretentious expression are permeated with the nobleness that characterizes Chopin's music.

Feb 20, 2015

Blechacz at Konzerthaus, Vienna

Wiener Konzerthaus (Main Hall) on Monday, Feb.16, 2015, Program of Bach, Beethoven and Chopin.
Encores: Brahms Intermezzo A-Dur op. 118/2,  Chopin Prélude A-Dur op. 28/7

photo credit:
Review by Katharina Wappel on Wiener Zeitung
"Pathetique, soulful beauty"

I saw tweets by audience members written in English, Spanish, German and Japanese.

In May last year, Blechacz performed at Wiener Musikverein Beethoven's concerto No.3 with Wiener Symphoniker for three days in a row.  He reportedly said that it was really great pleasure to play with the Wienersymphoniker under Altinoglu in the famous concert hall and the reaction of the audience was very awarding for him.

As for Konzerthaus (Großer Saal), it was for the first time since Dec. 2010 that he performed there.
My husband, his friend in Vienna (a singer at Wiener Staatsoper), his wife and I were at RB's previous appearance.  He played Chopin's E-minor concerto and looked inspired.   I liked his enthralling interpretation.  There was something special in the atmosphere of the house-probably coming from the history of great performances by many great musicians.  His debut at Konzerthaus was in autumn 2007.

Konzerthaus, Dec. 2010
It was not his recital :D

Feb 5, 2015

Brilliant pianist performing in UK, Spain and Luzern

After the recital at Wigmore in London, Rafał Blechacz gave two more recitals in UK.

January 13  Turner Sims Concert Hall in Southampton  

January 15  Peterhouse College Theatre, Cambridge

photo credit: Chopin Society UK

On January 29 and 30, he played Beethoven's piano concerto no.3 in C minor Op.37 with Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra directed by Antoni Wit, the Artistic Director of the orchestra at the main hall of Baluarte in Pamplona, Spain.  If I remember correctly, it is the first time for him to perform with Maestro Wit, his guardian, since May 2012, whey they played Beethoven's concerto no.4 in Prague.

program page

photo credit: Orquestra de Navarra, he gave two encores
Photo from the orchestra's twitter

Review of the concert by J. Óscar Beorlegui. 
"Brilliant pianist and magical conductor"

On Wednesday, he played piano concerto by Mozart in C minor, Op. 24 with Luzerner Sinfonieorchester (LSO); conductor James Gaffigan at Luzern KKL.  They'll perform the same program on Thursday with an additional treat by Blechacz: a night recital (Nachtkonzert)  of Chopin.

A judge of Gilmore Artist Award 2014, the artistic director of LSO, remembers Blechacz playing in Luzern with the same orchestra and conductor in December 2012 on his nomination of the big prize. New York Times, Jan. 2014

(.....) The orchestra musicians “had begged me to invite him,” Mr. Bischof-Ullmann said, “which is always a very good sign.” (.....) he was particularly struck by Mr. Blechacz’s collaborative spirit. “It was nice to see somebody who does not just come and think, ‘I can play this concerto, let’s have a nice concert,’ but who thinks, ‘Let’s work on it and try to understand it and make our own interpretation.’ ”(.....)

James Gaffigan says;
"Thank you Luzern Symphony Orchestra and Rafał Blechacz for a cleansing week of Schumann and Mozart!"

Review of the concert by Neue Zurcher Zeitung
"Perfect Balance - The pianist Rafal Blechacz in Lucerne".
(It's charged to read the article.)

** Webradio broadcast
    Feb. 8, @20:00, Illinois Public Media (WILL FM) to broadcast some Chopin pieces by RB from Gilmore International Keyboard Festival 2014. (Illinois local time)

Jan 10, 2015

His Pathétique, extraordinary.

Rafał Blechacz at Wigmore Hall, London.  January 8, playing Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin.

"For Beethoven-lovers: Blechacz's interpretation of his Sonata Pathétique is one to dislodge all others from my affections. Extraordinary". (Suzannah Lipscomb)

Poised and elegant pianism from Rafal Blechacz 
Review written by Nahoko Gotoh
Ms.Gotoh  is a Japanese music writer living in London.  She wrote a review of Blechacz's Wigmore debut in 2007 for his Japan tour program booklet of that year, which impressed me a lot.

A photo by an audience member

Encore: Brahms’s A major Intermezzo Op 118 No 2.

from my trip there in 2010

Nov 22, 2014

Standing ovation to Blechacz for his long waited performance in Poznań

On Friday, Nov. 21, the artist was back to Poznań to play Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto in C minor op.37, his first performance there in four and half years, with many fans eagerly waiting for.

Program page

Antonio MÉNDEZ - conductor
Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra

Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
Hector Berlioz Fantastic Symphony, Op. 14

He got a standing ovation and as encores he returned with three pieces - Intermezzo by Brahms, Polonaise As dur and Prelude by Chopin, according to (see pictures of the performance and standing ovation).

 of the rehearsal, which was made open to the public for their huge interest in the performance.

Before the concert, he gave interviews to Polish media.

Interviewer Anna Plenzler

Interviewer Marek Zaradniak

He talks about the Gilmore Artist Award, why playing Beethoven's concerto, happy meeting with Trevor Pinnock at Concertgebouw in 2012, plan of incoming album and performances, study of philosophy, etc...  As he usually does, he includes something interesting - one or two new items in each interview which otherwise could be a recap of what he's already mentioned before.

Video interview is also available.

He'll play this concerto again in Warsaw on Feb. 24 with Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Jacek Kaspszyk. English Polish


RB's performance at The Gilmore Keyboard Festival 2014 will be broadcast.

Listen Live at 8 PM  (Michigan local time)

December 2, 2014    Chopin: Three Mazurkas, Op. 63

December 9, 2014    Chopin: Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 39 and other piece

January 27, 2015     Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
                            Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
                            Conductor: Raymond Harvey

(Thanks to Operasora for the news (^_^). Danke!)

On the same day that RB was in Poznań, Krystian Zimerman was in Kawasaki, Japan to play Brahms Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor with BRSO (directed by Mariss Jansons), their first performance of Japan tour. (Sold out six months ago).

from BRSO twitter

Oct 26, 2014

He outperformed raised expectations - Rafał Blechacz in Carnegie Hall and North America

On Oct. 23, RB appeared at Zankel Hall (Carnegie Hall), NY.

Take that, the Elevated Ecpectations!  The Pianist Rafal Blechacz at Zankel Hall, New York Times, Oct.24

" (.....)The risk in offering such often-heard repertory is that a pianist will be tempted to do something novel for novelty’s sake to make an interpretation stand out. But Mr. Blechacz found subtle ways to uncover freshness and spontaneity in these scores (.....)"

"(.....) He ended with Chopin’s stormy Polonaise in F sharp minor (Op. 44), a performance that captured all the craggy intensity of the music, which curiously breaks into a beguiling mazurka-like middle section (.....)
I am still thinking about that fitful polonaise (.....)"
(Anthony Tommasini)

Carnegie Hall program page

Photo credit;

In an interview for Polish media, Blechacz says that it was his first concert at Carnegie Hall and remembers his debut with New York Philharmonic to play Chopin's F-minor concerto at Lincoln Center in 2008, adding Carnegie Hall is a special place so he definitely will remember this experience.

Another reporting in Swedish;  "Standing Ovation to Blechacz at Carnegie Hall
"It was a great concert. It is very enjoyable to be able to present such a young musical talent.  He will be a great musician", said Clive Gillinson, Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall.  Blechacz appreciates a warm, enthusiastic and cordial reception by the NY audience.

Before playing in NY, he gave three recitals in North America this month - standing ovations everywhere.

Oct. 14
SFJAZZ Center (2014/15 SF Performances Piano Series)  ☆

  Nice review by Ken Iisaka ♪

    Perfect review by Gary Lemco  ♫

"(.....) The final work of the concert proper, the F-sharp Minor Polonaise, Op. 44 (1841) released whatever “symphonic” ambitions Blechacz and Chopin share for the keyboard. From the huge opening octaves to the lyric episodes that borrow from mazurka rhythm, Blechacz projected an unequivocal sense of Romantic heroism in this piece, a testament to the tragedy and triumph of Chopin’s innate nationalism. With its A Major middle section fraught with rolling cannon fire, the piece under Blechacz might have been construed as an extended ballade, rife with exalted and theatrical gestures (.....)" (Gary Lemco)

Oct. 17
Cullen Theater, Wortham Center, Houston   
  Preview on
    A nice article with some interview by the artist, but now it requires registration.

Oct. 19
Koerner Hall, Toronto

   Preview article

   Pic by Royal Conservatory, the organizer
   Pic by an audience member

I saw many SNS posts with pictures taken by audience members at autographic sessions in these three venues.

This one impressed me most.
"Meet my childhood idol Rafal Blechacz in Houston tonight". by a 21-year-old pianist.

Blechacz is already a childhood idol of some young pianists..!
Yes I know a few of them.

Mazurka Op.56-3 in 2005.  How has he changed since then?

On Oct. 26, he finishes the North American tour of 2014
at Union College, NY, the venue where judges of the 2014 Gilmore Artist Award discovered Blechacz in 2012.

Preview article

News conference was held in mid Oct. about the 17th Chopin International Piano Competition (2015). Prof. Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, one of the teachers of Blechacz at  Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy, Bydgoszcz., will be the head of the jury.  YUNDI is sitting with those well-known big figures as a judge.

     English release, Nov. 2013

Oct 14, 2014

Piano concertos in C minor by Mozart and Beethoven

This year and last year RB reportedly played piano concertos by Mozart and Beethoven in C minor time and again.

Latest performances of Mozart were with National Orchestra of Belgium, directed by Andrey Boreyko in Belgium (Oct.2, 3 and 5)

A review on Crescendo of the concert on Oct. 3  at BOZAR, Belgium.

".....For its part, the Piano Concerto No. 24 by Mozart gets a greater symphonic body (wind) and a formal and melodic inspiration more developed. Boreyko and Rafał Blechacz played the card of finesse: beautiful keyboard control, maturity of sound and appropriate style. Blechacz’s playing pleasantly approaches improvisation with many dynamic and melodic contrasts. The clear baton of Boreyko accompanies the soloist carefully but could be more flexible in reading, sometimes too serious. Nevertheless, his expertise of accompaniment is felt naturally here: one breath, accurate startings and special attention to the flow of the score. This concert will be kept in our minds....."  (Ayrton Desimpelaere)

Rafał Blechacz talks about the Mozart concerto on (audio)
(Interview, broadcast on Oct. 3)

Mozart w/ Pinnock at Mozarteum, Salzburg
Photo credit: Mozarteum Orchestra
Review of the concert

Beethoven Piano Concerto No.3, Blechacz played it many times, too.
From a review of the concert with Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM,) directed by Kent Nagano for OSM Virée Classique Couche-Tard Festival (Aug, 2014).

".....The great Rafał gave quite a performance today with the orchestra led by our Maestro Kent Nagano. We were greatly privileged to be able to hear and see this talented Polish pianist. He played on the piano with great finesse and passion and was in all delicacy at the same time when executing on his instrument. All the emotions were emanated to every note. In short, it was a great musical discovery....."

Blechacz already worked with Kent Nagano last year in Rome with the Mozart's concerto with Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

(And with Boreyko, too: he performed Chopin's F-minor concerto for four nights in a row in Feb. 2010 in Rome, making the biggest concert hall in Rome full every day).

This month, Nagano with his orchestra OSM is touring my country; their refreshing non-European, non-American sound enthusiastically welcomed by music lovers here.

Rafał Blechacz will play these concertos with wonderful orchestras in coming months.

At Gilmore Keyboard Festival Master Class, May 2014
Photo credit The

May 15, 2014

Rafal Blechacz playing Beethoven at Wiener Musikverein with Wiener Symphoniker

Program page on Musikverein

Click a picture to see Blechacz playing during the Generalprobe.

The concert on May 15 will be broadcast by,
on May 25, 11:03. program site

The concert on May 15 will be broadcast by,
on May 25, 11:03.

2014 Gilmore Festival - Rafał Blechacz — at Chenery Auditorium

They provides eight pictures.  Click on a picture to see the next.

May 5, 2014

Rafał Blechacz, The 2014 Gilmore Artist, at Gilmore Keyborad FestivalGala, May 3 & recital, May 6, 2014

Photo credit:

"(....) Blechacz exhibited fine stage presence. At the keyboard, his movements were measured and graceful. Hands and fingers in particular bespoke a performer aware of his strengths. His attacks and releases were unfailingly splendid, while runs and trills were exquisite. Blechacz showed himself a “compleat” artist.

This year the new artist was joined by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra for two concerti. Featured were Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No, 3 in C Minor, Op. 37 (.....)" 
Read more the review by Erik Holladay on

April 25, Blechacz's album "Chopin Polonaises" was awarded the 2014 Frydelic Award in two categories:
”Best Polish Classical Album Abroad” and “Best Classical Recording”.
List of awardees on Fryderik Award website

His recent performances:
April 26     Recital at Spivy Hall, Clayton State University, GA 
April 25     Recital at Mandell Hall, Chicago University        a nice review

April 10     Recital at BASF-Feierabendhaus (Festsaal) - Ludwigshafen , Germany
                         a review by operasora

April 7       Recital at Prinzregententheater - Munich , Germany
                   a nice review 1  
                  Interview by BR Klassik (audio)

April 4       Recital at Philharmonie (Kammermusiksaal) - Berlin , Germany
                  ☆ (The organizer showed a wrong program)       one of the reviews

April 2       Recital at Liederhalle - Stuttgart , Germany  

March 28   Recital at Auditorium - Lyon  
March 25   Recital at Grand Théâtre de Provence - Aix-en-Provence, France
                one of the reviews

March 17   Recital at Tonhalle, Zurich  

Feb. 4       Beethoven: Piano Concerto no. 3 with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
               Conductor: John Storgårds at Liederhalle Stuttgart, Germany    Review

Feb. 3        Schumann: Piano Concerto with  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
                Conductor: John Storgårds
                at Alte Oper Frankfurt Frankfurt am Main, Germany  

Jan. 31      Schumann concerto at Helsinki Music Centre  

Jan. 24      Chopin: Piano Concertos nos. 1 & 2 with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
                Conductor: Trevor Pinnock at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
                 a beautiful photo

Jan. 22      Chopin: Piano Concerto no. 2 with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
                Conductor: Mikhail Pletnev  in Lingotto

photo credit:

Jan. 20      Chopin: Piano Concertos nos. 1 & 2, with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
                 Conductor: Trevor Pinnock at Die Glocke - Bremen, Germany  

Jan. 8        Seleced The 2014 Gilmore Artist

From commemorative performances at NY WQXR

Watch the full video from The Gilmore website

Dec. 17     Recital at Saitama Arts Center
Dec. 16     Recital at Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall
Dec. 14     Recital at Tokyo Opera City Cobcert Hall   See nice pictures
Dec. 13     Recital at Musashino Civic Cultural Hall    See pictures from the Hall's FB

About RB's album "Polonaises",

Displaying a brilliantly secure technique, the young Polish pianist is fully up to the challenges of these glittering pieces. He also feels the nostalgia and longing of the music, and hearing him play the Polonaises is like hearing an authentically Viennese performances of a waltz. --BBC Music Magazine, Christmas Issue 2013 

 I think we all might agree on a new benchmark with the arrivel of this recording from Rafal Blechacz...It is a rare integrale in which every work is as technically successful and musically convincing as all its companions...this is Chopin-playing of the highest order, with recorded piano sound that far surpasses the earlier versions. --Gramophone Magazine, December 2013

"His CD is considered as among the best productions of the year" by

Some of the images and literary works on this website remain the property of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Visitors are asked to contact
the author of this website personally before quoting any material which is exclusive to

Dec 29, 2013


photo credit;

I now feel that I've had some achievement of what I wanted to do by writing the website for Rafał Blechacz; to promote the pianist by giving an opportunity to listen to his music to a wide range of classical music listeners including those at pro/semi-professional level (especially in my country); and to provide right info/news of RB to him and his fans, which satisfies me to some extent.

Compiling various posts, working with other fans in particular, was enjoyable. Big thanks to Dana & Ola & Beata, Jan, Shizuka, Marine, MP, Operasora, Marzena, Deborah, Yewon, Joanna, arillei, Madokakip, three Masako-sans, Keiko-san, Yoko-san, Tamaki-san, Kuma-san, SUZU-san, Kaori-san, Miki-san, Okudaira-san, Praha-san, fans from Europe,  Americas and Asia (Korea and the Philippines, especially) and friendly followers on Twitter. Thanks for the contributions to Carmen,  Citrine, Marina (US), Cong, Karolina, Kathrina, Ms. ML Liu, Staff from Saitama Arts Center, several organizers in Europe (for sending reviews/photos), Tomomi-sensei (for beautiful pictures * *), Piotr Iwicki * and Fred Child *.  Thanks for visiting and reading this website.  (Akiko Ichikura, Tokyo)

The wise words that a friend of mine gave me have supported me for the past several years when I was in difficulties.  My heartfelt thanks go to her. (Jan.8 ET).

"My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition there." by Indira Gandhi

I've been always in the first group in my efforts to support him and I'm proud of that.  But I must say the existence of a few from the second group, acting in a way that might compromise the reputation and integrity of the artist, has been a big obstacle for me to keep on my blog.

I sincerely hope he will grow to play for many people's hearts.

PS 2 (Jan. 9 JST)
From yesterday, I've been inundated by messages of congrats/mails of news of Mr. Blechacz's receiving 2014 Gilmore Artist Award.  Many thanks to Mary from Frederic Chopin Society, Jong, others from music lovers' community and music industry.  The prestigious US music award given to only one artist every four years has such distinguished pianists as Leif Ove Andsnes and Piotr Anderszewski as awardees.

You can watch the video of Gilmore 2014 with his commemorative performance and interview, at Greene Space, NY, which was live-broadcast on Jan. 8.

Another interview with NPR (audio).

Also, read the NYT article of the award, very interesting article.


Following is a copy of the message and news that was forwarded to me by Mary Sigmond, President of Frederic Chopin Society in Minnesota, sent from Dan Gustin, Director of the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Jan.7, the previous day of the award announcement.


“ I wanted to share with you the announcement of our 2014 Gilmore Artist Rafal Blechacz, which will appear publicly tomorrow.  Best wishes,  Dan”


Mr. Blechacz to give his first performance as the Gilmore Artist during a special, live-streamed event presented by WQXR at The Greene Space on January 8 at 5:30 p.m. ET

New York, NY (January 08, 2014) – Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz (pronounced Ra-FAW BLEH-haatch) has been named the recipient of the 2014 Gilmore Artist Award, it was announced today by Daniel R. Gustin, Director of the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. One of the most prestigious honors in music, the Gilmore Artist Award is presented every four years on a non-competitive basis to an exceptional pianist who, regardless of age or nationality, has the potential to sustain a career as a major international concert artist. Mr. Blechacz will receive $300,000 in support of his musical and career goals over the next four years. Previous recipients of the Gilmore Artist Award are Kirill Gerstein (2010), Ingrid Fliter (2006), Piotr Anderszewski (2002), Leif Ove Andsnes (1998), Ralf Gothóni (1994) and David Owen Norris (1991).
            Mr. Belchacz will perform works by Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven and Debussy during his first public performance as the 2014 Gilmore Artist in an event presented by WQXR at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space on Wednesday, January 8 at 5:30 p.m. ET. Hosted by WQXR’s Jeff Spurgeon and American Public Media’s Fred Child, the Greene Space event will include interviews with Mr. Blechacz, Daniel Gustin, Director of the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, former Artistic Advisory Committee members Ara Guzelimian (1998 and 2006) and Sherman Van Solkema (2010 and 2014) as well as the 2010 recipient of the Award Kirill Gerstein. The Greene Space event will be streamed live on, and a Gilmore Artist radio special will air on New York’s WQXR 105.9 FM on Wednesday, January 15 at 10:00 pm ET and Sunday, January 19 at 11:00 pm ET, and nationally on American Public Media’s Performance Today on January 14 (check local listings for time).  
“Rafał Blechacz stood out to us as a truly distinctive musical figure whose passionate commitment to his art and profound musicianship portend a long and brilliant career,” said Daniel Gustin.
Rafał Blechacz, 28, is a native of Poland, where he still makes his home. In October 2005, his career was launched when he was named the uncontested winner of the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, receiving all five prizes including First Prize and special prizes for best mazurka, polonaise, concerto and sonata. He has since performed in Europe, Japan and North America to critical acclaim. Mr. Blechacz is an exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Grammophon, and has made five well-received recordings with the record label.
            “To receive this prestigious award is a great honor for me,” said Mr. Blechacz. “The award offers superb support for my upcoming musical projects and undeniably is a significant factor in the furthering of my career.”
            The Gilmore Artist Award is given by the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, established in 1989. Candidates for the Gilmore Artist Award are nominated confidentially by a large and diverse international assemblage of music professionals. The finalists among the candidates are then each evaluated for their career potential and musicianship in many live concert performances by Mr. Gustin and an anonymous committee representing various aspects of the classical music world. The committee evaluates the candidates’ work over a sustained period of time, rather than judging their achievements during the course of a highly concentrated and limited set of conditions as in a public competition.
            The Gilmore Artist receives a $50,000 cash grant to be used at the artist’s discretion and $250,000 typically disbursed over a four-year period for projects and activities that will enhance the artist’s musicianship and career.
In addition to Mr. Gustin, the supporting committee for the 2014 Gilmore Artist Award included Numa Bischof-Ullmann, Artistic and Executive Director of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra; Anthony Fogg, Artistic Administrator of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; Christopher Roberts, President of Robison Consultants and former President of Universal Music; Judith Sherman, eminent recording producer and engineer; and Sherman Van Solkema, musicologist and retired chairman of the music departments of Brooklyn College and Grand Valley State University.
The Gilmore also gives Gilmore Young Artist Awards every two years to the most promising of the new generation of American pianists, age 22 and younger. Andrew Hsu and Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, were named the 2014 Gilmore Young Artists. Between 1990 and 2012, 28 young pianists have received the Gilmore Young Artist Award, including Christopher Taylor, Jonathan Biss, Yuja Wang, Orion Weiss, Kirill Gerstein and Orli Shaham.
The Gilmore Festival and Awards are the legacy of Irving S. Gilmore, a Michigan businessman and philanthropist based in Kalamazoo, whose special devotion to piano music and pianists inspired the creation of the biennial Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and the Gilmore Artist and Young Artist Awards. Mr. Blechacz, along with former Gilmore Artists Kirill Gerstein, Piotr Anderszewski and Ingrid Fliter will appear at this year’s Gilmore International Keyboard Festival taking place April 24 to May 10, 2014 throughout West Michigan. More information can be found at
            Rafał Blechacz already has been praised as “one of the pianistic giants of our time” (The Sunday Times). With a determined pursuit of clarity and brilliance at the keyboard, his playing is often characterized by its elegance and delicacy, which conveys a poetic solemnity that has led him to be compared to legendary pianists of the early 20th century, as well as to fellow Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman, one of Mr. Blechacz’s mentors. The music of Chopin resonates strongly with Mr. Blechacz, and he is recognized for his intelligent and expressive interpretations of the composer’s works, yet his abundant virtuosity and profound musicianship have incited equal acclaim for his performances of works by an increasingly wide range of composers, from Bach and Beethoven to Liszt, Debussy andSzymanowski.
            Mr. Blechacz was the first Polish musician in 30 years to win the International Chopin Piano Competition. In a feat no other pianist has achieved, he was awarded First Prize, as well as all the special prizes of the competition including the Polish Radio Prize for best mazurka performance, the Frédéric Chopin Society Prize for the best performance of a polonaise, the National Philharmonic of Poland Prize for the best concerto performance, the Krystian Zimerman-sponsored prize for the best performance of a sonata, and the Competition Audience Award. In July 2010, he received the prestigious Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Italy), awarded annually by an international jury of music critics to young musicians for their outstanding artistic achievements.
            In May 2006, Rafał Blechacz was signed as an exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Grammophon (DG). His award-winning recordings for DG include Chopin’s Complete Preludes, which received a German Echo Klassik award and a French Diapason D’or l’Année award; a recording of sonatas by Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart; and a “Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik” (German Record Critics’ Award) winning recording of both Chopin concerti with the Concertgebouw Orchestra led by Jerzy Semkow. In spring 2012, his fourth DG album featuring works by Debussy and Szymanowski was named Gramophone magazine’s "Recording of the Month" and won Echo Klassik’s Solo Recording of the Year. In the Gramophone review of Mr. Blechacz’s recently-released Deutsche Grammophon recording of the Chopin Impromptus, Jeremy Nichols writes: “…this is Chopin-playing of the highest order,” noting that it sets “a new benchmark” among the many recordings of this repertoire.
            He has performed with renowned orchestras such as the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Concertgebouw Orchestra, NDR Hamburg, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scalla in Milan, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in Europe; and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic in the U.S. Also in the U.S. he has performed in recital in Ann Arbor, Portland, Washington DC and San Francisco, among other cities. He has made important debuts at London’s Wigmore Hall and Royal Festival Hall, the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt and the Konzerthaus in Vienna; and he is a frequent performer at important festivals including the Chopin Festival in Warsaw, the Klavier Festival Ruhr, Festival de la Roque d’Anthéron, the Verbier and Salzburg Festivals and the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, at which he made his North American debut in 2008.
            This season Rafał Blechacz made his debut with the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by Cornelius Meister and returned to the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Kent Nagano. He performed in recital at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, as well as in Glasgow, Porto, Madrid and Tokyo. His upcoming engagements include performances with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen in Germany, Italy and France; an extensive tour of Germany with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Storgårds; and concerts at the Musikverein in Vienna with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra led by Alain Altinoglu. 
            Born in 1985 in Nakło nad Notecią, Poland, Mr. Blechacz’s earliest memories about music are connected with attending church and being fascinated with organ music he heard there. He aspired to become an organist until he began piano lessons and realized the piano was the right instrument for him. Mr. Blechacz enrolled at the Arthur Rubinstein State Music School in Bydgoszcz and went on to study with pianist Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń at the city’s Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music, where he graduated in May 2007. In addition to his performing career, he is currently pursuing a Doctorate in philosophy with emphasis in aesthetics and the philosophy of music, at Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika (Nicolaus Copernicus University) in Torun.
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Press contacts: 
Dan Gustin, Director

Mary McCormick, Director of Marketing & PR


(I added this to express my appreciation to those who helped me for the past few years.)