WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Seventy-eight young pianists from 20 nations are taking part in the career-paving 17th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, its director said on the opening day Thursday.
Artur Szklener, head of the organizing National Frederic Chopin Institute, said that among the competition's aims is to promote talents but also to establish standards for performing the works of Chopin, who was "not a typical composer or performer" of his time, in the 19th century.
A leading world piano competition, it is held every five years, and this one — the 17th edition — saw a record number of almost 500 applications from around the world.
Argentina's Martha Argerich, the winner of the competition in 1965 and a jury member now, is to play at the Warsaw Philharmonic on Thursday to open the three-week event that is dedicated entirely to the work of Chopin. The competitors begin performing on Saturday, starting with Poland's Tymoteusz Bies.
The 17-member jury, largely composed of competition winners and laureates, will announce the winner of the main prize Oct. 20. It includes concerts in some of the world's best-known halls, contracts for recordings and a 30,000-euro ($33,600) prize.
In its 88-year history, the Chopin competition has earned a reputation of one of the world's top piano events, opening world careers to young pianists.
Past winners include Maurizio Pollini in 1960, Garrick Ohlsson in 1970 and Krystian Zimerman in 1975.
Born in 1810 near Warsaw to a Polish mother and a French father, Chopin studied music and gave his first concerts in Warsaw. At the age of 21 he settled in Paris, the center of Europe's musical life, where he composed, performed and taught the piano. He died there in 1849.
Chopin composed almost entirely for the piano, drawing inspiration from Poland's folk and dance music, like the mazurka and the polonaise.