Faith in the Jury
small, Faith in the Jury, Part of jury of the 16th International Chopin Piano Competition. Photo: Dominik Skurzak / Forum, jury-16-konkurs-chopinowski-fot-dominik-skurzak-forum.jpg
"Pianists sitting on the jury are great musicians and people. But they're conservative", Aleksander Sułtanow once said. This is a fact that is difficult to deny. But still…
international chopin competition
Competition emotions are on high today. We hope to encounter new and wonderful pianists. We will debate what is and what is not allowed in modern Chopinism. As we do every five years, we will complain that the jury advances safe and average pianists, rejecting artists with their own vision of Chopin, because this vision may be far from the academic view
When I look back on the results of previous competitions, I regain my faith in the jury. It is hard to find clear errors of this collective, aside from two decidedly unfortunate solutions: here, I am thinking of their decision not to award the First Prize two competitions in a row. The winner must receive the First Prize! Period.
Generally, the jury makes the right decisions by any measure, and the votum separatum made once in a while by particular members does not pass the test of time. Does anyone remember which pianist received the special prize from Arthur Rubinstein? I also consider the case of Pogorelich a success on the part of the jury. Alexander Michałowski's idea was to promote a certain paradigm for performing Chopin's music for the coming years through the competition. Even fans of Pogorelich must admit that he was a pianist with a rather liberal approach to the score and his current creations, being an extremely subjective reading of Chopin's work, should not under any pretence be copied by the young generation of musicians. The Serb remains a one-of-a-kind phenomenon and, as such, he could not, by definition, succeed in the competition. Similarly with Mihaela Ursuleasa, though her case is a polar opposite: – a pianist I personally prize and admire, provided she is not playing Chopin.
In reviewing the list of winners, I swell with pride. Simply at random: Ohlsson, Pollini, Zimmerman, Blechacz, Argerich! Dang Thai Son, Czerny-Stefańska, Yundi Li, Harasiewicz… What about the great Russian school? Oborin, Uninski… even Bunin - in his own way...
What about those further down the line? First of all, numerous Poles who have become permanent fixtures in world and domestic Chopinism. It is impossible to list them all by name here. Other nations are represented by Uchida, Gililov, Indjic, Shebanova (who is actually one of "ours"). Not all pianists with higher prizes developed equally fantastic careers - although many did.
That is why I have faith in the jury.
Author: Krzysztof Komarnicki, October 2010
This article comes from the current edition of the Chopin Express gazette published for the 16th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, in coooperation with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and "Gramophone" magazine.