Every note counts

The beauty of Chopin’s music lies in the fact that every minute detail has its purpose. The Polish composer’s music is emotional, which is why it resonates with everyone. In order to play his music well and prepare for the competition we not only practice our technique but also read about Poland and get to know the country better, contestants of the 17th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw told Polska.pl.

This year 78 pianists will take part in the Chopin Competition. At 14 contestants, Poles make up the largest contingent, followed by China (13 contestants), Japan (12), South Korean (8), Russia (6), United States (4), Italy, Canada and Great Britain (3) in addition to one contestant each from Belarus, Croatia, France, Greece, Indonesia, Latvia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Romania and Hungary.

The competition recitals start on Saturday, 3 October, at 10.00. The first person to perform will be Tymoteusz Bies from Poland. 


Olof Hansen, France

I really love Chopin. I played some pieces of Chopin when I was young, but I thought I was not good enough. About two years ago I started to feel more confident playing Chopin and decided to participate in the Chopin competition. But you also need to be lucky to be accepted as a contestant.

Chopin’s music is very special. Every note is very important in his music score. Chopin’s music is very different from that of most other composers. There is meaning in every line of his music. I feel good with this music. And it is very important to me. Chopin is very unique in the history of music. There is a period of Chopin in the history of music.

I really like the Polonaise fantasy, which he wrote at the end of his life when he was seriously ill. There are a lot of emotions in it. The theme is incredible. We find the theme in every part of the piece. So I really love it but it is very difficult to play. I will try to play it at the competition.

Alexei-Tartakovsky_for.jpg Alexei Tartakovsky, United States of America

For every pianist, Chopin’s music occupies a special place in his or her repertoire. This is the music I love. His music changed piano music and music in general. It has some Polish traits, of course: mazurkas, polonaisez, all sorts of rhythms and flection, but at the same time it is universal.

When I was in Warsaw for the preliminary round I went to the Chopin Museum. It is very interesting and very well done. Upon returning to the United States, literally the day after I got back, I developed pneumonia. I was sick for a month so this gave me some valuable insight to Chopin’s own experiences. During the summer I practiced a lot but I also tried to read about the history of Poland and fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge. I also read some works by Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz. I’m reading his “Konrad Wallenrod” now.


Kausikan Rajeshkumar, Great Britain

Chopin’s music is full of emotions. It is not fully on your sleeve. You don’t wear it in an obvious type of way. Everything is very deeply emotional but it is always restrained. I find it very interesting.

In order to really understand the music of a composer there are many paths you can take. For me discovering more about Chopin wasn’t something I had to do to prepare for the competition. It was something I was interested in anyway. I have read about him and listened to a lot of his recordings. A deep understanding of composers’ music is always best achieved with a quite complete and well-rounded understanding of who they were, why they wrote music the way they did.

I like his more structurally free genres, some of the miniatures like mazurkas, nocturnes. There is something emotionally flexible about them. His later works are psychologically sophisticated. He uses form and structure in an emotional psychological way. I enjoy it.

Chuhan Zhang_fot. B. Sadowski dla NIFC.jpg Chuhan Zhang, Chiny

The Chopin Competition will be an invaluable experience for me both in terms of music and life in general. I have always been fascinated with Polish culture and Chopin as a composer himself. I have been playing Chopin’s music for a very long time. I started to study piano when I was four.

I think Chopin has something very special, both related to Poland and his personality. So many people around the world want to play Chopin’s music because of the way it express human emotions. His language is very powerful and universal.

I love Poland. Everyone here is helpful and supportive. The Chopin Competition represents Polish culture and I’m honored to be experiencing it.

Interviews by Magdalena Majewska