When creating any kind of a music competition, organisers must decide whether the jury should consist of acclaimed artists or pedagogues, specialists in a specific area of performance, music theorists, music critics, cultural historians, publishers of musical works, managers or impresarios. The Chopin Competition is special because it is devoted to the music of one artist. To some extent, this influences the composition of the jury.
At the first Chopin Competition in 1927, the Jury was mostly manned by Poles, supported on the final day by the German pianist Alfred Hoehn (1887-1945), a legendary performer of, amongst other things, the Barcarolle in F sharp major and the études, which have been recorded for posterity. That first jury consisted of Zygmunt Butkiewicz, director of the National Music Conservatory in Poznań, Zbigniew Drzewiecki, professor at the Warsaw Conservatory (WC), Piotr Maszyński, choirmaster, composer, pedagogue, director the of Vocalists Association, Henryk Melcer, professor, WC rector, Stanisław Niewiadomski and Zofia Rabcewicz, both WC professors, Felicjan Szopski, professor at the Frederic Chopin School of Music (FSM), Józef Śmidowicz and Józef Turczyński, WC professors, Adam Wyleżyński, director of the Vilnius Music Conservatory, Jerzy Żurawlew, FSM professor, and Witold Maliszewski, director of the Warsaw Music Society, FSM professor and rector (whose students included Witold Lutosławski). Aleksander Michałowski took part in jury deliberations, but resigned after the first stage, protesting that his student, Maria Barówna, had been eliminated from the competition.
The aforementioned individuals made sure Chopin's works were performed to the letter. You might say they kept watch over Chopin's seal. It was a very distinguished group: the now forgotten Zofia Rabcewicz, student of Anton Rubinstein, was one of the greatest pianists and performers of Chopin of her time, Józef Turczyński, taught by Paderewski, a committed virtuoso, was famous for being an exquisite "Chopinist" as well as an excellent professor. When Paderewski edited Chopin's works, he chose Turczyński to assist him. The fact that a Russian won the first competition is express evidence of the jury's impartiality, their qualification and commitment to their responsibility.
Because the Chopin Competition was open to pianists from around the world, the decision was undertaken to make the jury more international. It was deemed that jurors from abroad would become familiar with the Polish performance canon and Chopin at the competition and propagate it in their environments. Foreigners were invited to take part in the second Competition, significantly expanding the make-up of the Jury. In addition to the Poles, (Zbigniew Drzewiecki, Juliusz Kaden-Bandrowski, Eugeniusz Morawski, Stanisław Niewiadomski, Zofia Rabcewicz, Karol Szymanowski, Józef Śmidowicz, Józef Turczyński, Adam Wieniawski and Jerzy Żurawlew), foreign names included Arthur de Greef, Alfred Hoehn, Marguerite Long, Joseph Marx, Maurice Ravel, Richard Roessler, Magda Tagliaferro, Paul Weingarten and Carlo Zecchi. The rules introduced reserve members in case one of the jurors became ill or could not evaluate competitors for other reasons. That year, the backup jurors were Franciszek Brzeziński, composer and music critic, Marian Dąbrowski, FSM professor, and Roman Jasiński, WC Professor.
For the third Competition Jury in 1937, in addition to those who had taken part in previous editions (Dąbrowski, Drzewiecki, Hoehn, Morawski, Rabcewicz, Roessler, Śmidowicz, Turczyński, Wieniawski and Żurawlew), new musicians appeared: Guido Agosti, Wilhelm Backhaus, Zofia Buckiewicz, Imre Keeri-Szanto, Emil Frey, Loris Margaritis, Henryk Neuhaus, Marie Panthes, Isidor Philipp, Lucyna Robowska, Emil Sauer, Pauls Schuberts, Imre Stefaniai, Andrei Stojanow, Stefan Śledziński and Bolesław Woytowicz.
The names of jurors in the three pre-war competitions answer the question: What sort of a Jury was it? The kind that includes performing pianists, piano pedagogues, and musicians associated with the Chopin tradition and piano music (e.g. some Polish composers).
Author: Stanisław Dybowski, October 2010.
The article comes from the "Chopin Express" gazette published for the 16th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition by Adam Mickiewicz Institute and Gramophone.