The seventeenth ”Chopin and his Europe Competition”

The 17th Chopin and his Europe festival opens in Warsaw this Saturday and traditionally, accomplished musicians from all the world will arrive in the Polish capital: top pianists, virtuosos of all instruments, grand conductors and legendary ensembles. Following the same tradition, we will see and hear performances by winners of the Chopin Competition: both those who have enjoyed their theme for years and those whose great career is only starting.

In accordance with its title, the Festival showcases Fryderyk Chopin’s œuvre in the context of ‘his’ Europe, understood in four perspectives: Europe contemporary to him, pre-Chopin Europe, Europe after the great master’s death and, finally, the Europe of our time. For this reason, aside from works by Chopin himself, the repertoire played at the Festival also includes the music that inspired him, works by composers younger than him, and the reception of Chopin’s œuvre in music contemporary to us.
Among the pianistic highlights is a night with Chopin’s both piano concertos interpreted by Nelson Goerner and Orchestre des Champs-Elysees under Philippe Herreweghe, very special chamber concerts by the winner of the Wieniawski Competition, Alena Baeva with Vadym Kholodenko, while winner of the Chopin Competition, Rafał Blechacz, will perform with violinist Bomsori Kim. Moreover, other artists invited to this year’s festival include Benjamin Gosvenor, Alexandre Tharaud, Jos van Immerseel and Isabelle Faust and such ensembles as the Belcea Quartet and Sinfonia Varsovia.
Of course, the program includes winners and laureates of past Chopin Competitions: Yulianna Avdeeva (the 2010 winner), Rafał Blechacz (the 2005 winner), Janusz Olejniczak (6th Prize, 1970), Kate Liu (3rd Prize, 2015) and Eric Lu (4th Prize, 2015).
The great musical festivity in Warsaw lasts from 14 to 31 August.
Hear and see the festival here:
YouTube livestreams: Chopin and his Europe

Unquestionably the Worldwide Chopin Competitors doing Warsaw – Preliminaries Are recorded!

The live streamed preliminary round of the 18th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition has started. Until 23 July, the Chamber Hall of the Polish National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw will resound with the music played by 150 young pianists from all over the world.

Who will qualify for the 80 entries in Round 1 this fall? This is certainly a good opportunity to learn who the artists are and see the calendar of the auditions.
The performance of the contestants is assessed by the Preliminary Round Jury composed of 11 eminent pianists and piano teachers: Ludmil Angelov, Philippe Giusiano, Alberto Nosè, Piotr Paleczny, Ewa Pobłocka, Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, John Rink, Marta Sosińska-Janczewska, Wojciech Świtała, Stefan Wojtas, and Dina Yoffe.
The auditions are held in two daily sessions: the Morning Session starting at 10am and the evening one, starting at 5pm.
Watch the performances here:
Chopin Competition – Live streaming
Chopin Institute – YouTube Channel

New Piano Piece by Mozart Discovered: Allegro in D K626

Today is W.A. Mozart’s 265th birthday and Salzburg and Austria celebrate this with the world premiere of one of his compositions.
At Piano Street we celebrate by releasing the score of the composition, the recently discovered piano piece “Allegro in D K626b/16“.
Download it for free below and celebrate Mozart yourself by playing the piece today!

A hidden treasure
So, how could this manuscript have hidden from public attention? Evidently, after passing from the estate of Mozart’s youngest son into the collection owned by Austrian civil servant and amateur musician Aloys Fuchs, it was mistakenly given away and vanished off the musical map. Owned by an antiquarian book and art dealer in Vienna in the 1880s, the manuscript was brought to auction in 1899. By this time The Köchel catalogue – listing the composer’s works – started mentioning it even though the manuscript itself kept going in and out of auction houses.
In 2018, the ‘unknown’ Allegro was offered for sale to the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation on behalf of the family of its owner, a French-Dutch engineer who had bought the manuscript from a dealer in Paris in the late 1920s. The Foundation’s staff and experts from the USA and Germany confirmed that the unattributed piano piece was undeniably by Mozart.
The Allegro in D major, K. 626b/16 fills the front and back of a single sheet of music paper in oblong format. The handwriting is hasty, but error-free. The undated composition stems in all likelihood from the first months 1773, according to the Mozarteum Foundation; it thus originated either during Mozart’s third journey to Italy or immediately after his return to Salzburg. Peculiarities of style suggest that this three-part dance movement is not an original piano piece, but a keyboard arrangement in Mozart’s own hand of an unknown orchestral work.
Free download!

Download the PDF-score and play the piece today to celebrate Mozart’s 265th birthday!
The World Premiere in Salzburg

A facsimile edition of the Allegro in D, complete with extensive introduction and bibliography, has been published by Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg and pianist Seong-Jin Cho will perform the piece in the official world premiere in Saltzburg on 27 January.
Pianist Seong-Jin Cho is the unique performer in the Great Hall of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation which is also the opening day of the Foundation’s first virtual Mozartwoche festival. Cho plays a stimulating selection of works by the Great Master, including the Piano Sonata No. 12, the Allegro in C Major and 94 seconds of an Allegro in D-major, performed for the very first time.
“The Allegro in D major K. 626b/16 is a highly attractive and charming piano piece, that adds yet another facet to the affectionate relationship of Mozart to his sister. How wonderful, that we are now able to participate in this relationship after such a long period of time.”
— Dr. Ulrich Leisinger, director of research of the Mozarteum Foundation,
“The rediscovery of this new work by Mozart is a real gift, not just for the Foundation but for friends of the Mozartwoche all over the world! We are very pleased to be able to fulfil the mission of the Foundation in such wonderful style, together with Seong-Jin Cho and Deutsche Grammophon, our aim being to enable people of all ages to find out more about Mozart’s music, life and personality.”
— Dr Johannes Honsig-Erlenburg, President of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation
“It is a great honour to be invited to give the premiere of a formerly unknown work by Mozart, in the city where he was born and where it may have been written,”
— Seong-Jin Cho, pianist

Read more at the press page:
Watch a recording of the official world premiere that will by published here 27 January at 18.00 GMT:
DG YouTube channel

Piano Day 2021

Piano Day is an annual worldwide event originally founded in 2015 by Nils Frahm and a group of likeminded people and takes place on the 88th day of the year – in 2021 it’s the 29th March, explained by the number of keys on the instrument being celebrated.

“Why does the world need a Piano Day? For many reasons. But mostly, because it doesn’t hurt to celebrate the piano and everything around it: performers, composers, piano builders, tuners, movers and most important, the listener.”
– Nils Frahm
Official website:
Exclusive broadcasts from ARTE

The artist lineup at the Théâtre de l’Épée de Bois in Paris displays a a rich and varied palette of piano music. The different spaces of the theatre will welcome live performances by Alexandre Kantorow, Sofiane Pamart, Macha Gharibian, Etienne Jaumet & Fabrizio Rat, and last but not least Françoiz Breut & Marc Melià.
DG Global Livestream
[The livestream has ended.]
Deutsche Grammophon again marks #WorldPianoDay March 28, 3pm CET, with an international virtual festival featuring performances by members of its family of artists, live-streamed on their YouTube channel. The programme includes keyboard classics on the one hand and a selection of contemporary works performed by their composers on the other. The artists, featuring DG, further UMG and guest pianists, include (in order of appearance): Maria João Pires, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Alice Sara Ott, Jan Lisiecki, Lang Lang, Rudolf Buchbinder, Kit Armstrong, Kirill Gerstein, Daniil Trifonov, Seong-Jin Cho, Katia & Marielle Labèque, Joep Beving, Chad Lawson, Balmorhea, Rui Massena and Yiruma.
As in the past, the piano remains the chief instrument for musical invention today. The virtual festival therefore also includes a selection of contemporary works performed by their composers, all of whom are part of the Universal Music family of artists. In particular Joep Beving will perform a special track which he has created for World Piano Day and which will be releasd worldwide across all digital retail partners. The piece is called Losar, which is the name of the Tibetan New Year festivities. The composer and pianist was inspired by the way the Tibetans celebrate the coming of a new cycle.

Stanchinsky is Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice

The short-lived Russian pianist and composer Alexey Stanchinsky was playing in public by age six and was highly regarded in all the musical activities he undertook. Swedish pianist Peter Jablonski has recorded an album with selected Stanchinsky works for the Ondine label, a recording that was recently selected as Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice of May 2021. Piano Street talked to Jablonski about the young forgotten composer and his works.
Piano Street: Congratulations on your Stanchinsky recording for Ondine being selected as Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice of May 2021! You have always nourished an interest in intriguing repertoire and your recording of the seldom heard Scriabin Mazurkas gained great acclaim. How did you find Alexei Stanchinsky, the young Russian, who died at 26?
Peter Jablonski: My partner Anastasia, who is a musicologist specialising in Russian music, told me about Stanchinsky and his connection to Scriabin, Taneyev, and Moscow. She then gave me the score of his Nocturne, and when I played it through, I was immediately hooked—the music sounded so fresh, so original and so different from most of what I played before; it simply captivated me and pushed me to get to know his music further.
PS: You are well documented in Russian and Soviet composers’ repertoire. What stands out in Stanchinskiy’s works and what do find being intriguing?
PJ: The most intriguing for me is the versatile, and the power of his talent, which was burning such a short time. What he achieved in 10 years of his entire creative life is astonishing. His music combines so many things: folk-like elements, complex polyphony, full-blooded Russian broodiness and gloominess, and also humour, grace, and great sincerity.
Hear Peter Jablonski perform Stanchinsky’s Sketch no. 3:

PS: What can you say about his production of piano works which started in 1905, the forms and stylistic development until his early death?
PJ: I spent a lot of time carefully making the selection of Stanchinsky’s works for the recording, because I wanted to give a well-rounded picture of the originality and many facets of his creative talent and also the works that I felt a direct connection to. Like so many of his colleagues at the time, he begins by being inspired by Chopin, and also by Scriabin; his early works are very melody and harmony driven and lyrical. The Piano Sonata in E-flat minor (he composed two more after this) is an early work, displaying a lot of passion, character, melodic invention, and harmonic complexity. It is also rather demanding and awkwardly written pianistically! There are many instances where the score is ambiguous about notes and tempo, so one has to navigate the score with care. The bravura is always secondary to the musical message and the passion is burning intensely from within not in a brazen outwardly fashion. The Preludes are real character studies where despite his tender age, Stanchinsky shows real mastery at creating moods and distinct characters in the space of only a few bars, not unlike Grieg who was another early influence of Stanchinsky’s. These are perhaps the works that also clearly show his connection to the pianistic tradition of Scriabin and somewhat also Rachmaninoff. My passion for, and interest in the Mazurka genre are probably quite well known, so of course I had to take both Stanchinsky’s Mazurkas. Both mazurkas show clear influences of Chopin and the wonderful lilting quality of the rhythms are clearly there. They make me wonder if Szymanowski knew them as they seem to be a clear bridge between Chopin and Szymanowski. As character pieces the 15 Sketches (originally his Op. 1), are perhaps the most inventive and daring, with everything from slow lyricism to pianistic pyrotechnics in them. They were so good that they even made Prokofiev jealous! Songs Without Words are in the best song-like, lyrical tradition of Russian folk music, and are very simple without being simplistic. Again, we hear similarities with Grieg here.
Stanchinsky’s Nocturne was a real surprise to me. First of all, it seems to be written in a format that we meet often in Chopin, for example, with lyrical outer parts and a stormy middle section. But, in Stanchinsky’s nocturne the middle section is so unusual pianistically, I could say it is outstanding it its technical challenges, the writing is a bit awkward, like in the Sonata in E-flat minor, and because of that, it is easy to lose track of the fantastic music within.
The Variations are one of the most unusual, I would say, and intriguing work on this recording. Their outward simplicity and clarity are almost medieval, and show Stanchinsky’s interest in early music, which developed into his complete obsession with Bach and horrifically complex polyphonic writing later on.
To summarise my view of Stanchinsky’s music is quite easy—it is a composer so unique, who is his short 10 years of creative life managed to create works so diverse and so complex, one can only but wonder about, and be sorry for the fact that his life did not last longer for him to share with us the full extend of his extraordinary musical talent.
PS: He was said to wanting to take consultation from Nikolai Medtner in the end of his life. Can we see a musical connection there?
PJ: The connection between Medtner and Stanchinsky is easy to establish: both were influenced by and taught by the same man: Sergey Taneyev, who developed their interest in counterpoint. So, both composers have an epic, story-telling element in their music, and both were masters of counterpoint.

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Listen to Gramophones podcast:
Peter Jablonski on the piano music of Alexei Stanchinsky


“We humans need music” – Martha Argerich at 80 – Ever Totally Irresistible

Noticed everywhere and named one of the greatest pianists of our time, Martha Argerich turned 80 on June 5. When hearing Argerich play, philosopher and musicologist Theodor W Adorno’s words instantly come to mind: “The most difficult should sound easy and effortless, overcoming all obstacles to return to a liberated game.”

To mark the 80th anniversary of the legendary artist, Symphoniker Hamburg presents Martha Argerich Festival 2021 featuring 12 live concerts – live streamed in very high quality video and sound for fans of Martha Argerich around the world.
Martha Argerich Festival 2021 – Livestreamed

DATES: June 20 to July 1, 2021
LOCATION: Great Hall of the Laeiszhalle Hamburg (Germany)
Martha Argerich Festival 2021 presents 12 exclusive concerts featuring world-class artists, including Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Maria João Pires, Mischa Maisky, Renaud Capuçon, Gidon Kremer and many other artists.
Festival program > >
Schedule of livestream concerts > >

Did you know?

Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires and granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, and was taught by Italian-Argentine pianist Vincenzo Scaramuzza, who taught her to sing with her fingers ”like bel canto sopranos like Maria Malibran or Giulia Grisi”.
At eight she made her debut in Mozart’s Concerto in D minor KV 466.
At fourteen, supported by the government of Juan Perón, she went to study with Friedrich Gulda in Vienna, which was the “greatest inspiration of my career”.
In 1960 she made one of the most brilliant debut records ever: The staccatos, the broken chords and the brilliant passages of Chopin’s C sharp minor Scherzo; the repetitions divided between both hands on a note by Prokofiev’s Toccata; the octave thunder of the Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt – mastered it in such a way that it was out of this world. The loudest applause came from Vladimir Horowitz, playing jokes on his friends telling them that it was him playing the Toccata…
In 1961 she spent time taking instruction with Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli in Piedmont and then stopped playing for a while, working as a secretary, and married the composer Robert Chen from whom she separated shortly before the birth of their daughter.
Two other daughters come from the marriages with the conductor Charles Dutoit and the pianist Stephen Kovacevich.

Known of her high demands on herself, Argerich sometimes has expressed wishes for a different profession. At times during her long career Argerich avoided the arena of the large concert halls and played neither concertos nor solo recitals. Instead, she devoted herself to chamber music with friends, among them generously sponsored young musicians, at her festival in Lugano. In the late 1990s she also won the battle against serious cancer.
Further reading and listening
To sum up Martha Argerich’s 60 years as a performer is virtually impossible. Piano Street therefore has selected a number of fine articles containing different aspects of the artist and her long career. These articles also offer video performances and’s film compilation ”80 minutes with the magical Martha Argerich”.

Deutsche Welle
‘Lioness’ of the piano: Martha Argerich turns 80
The Guardian
Martha Argerich review – our greatest living pianist? It’s hard to disagree
Martha Argerich: 80th Birthday Celebration
Martha Argerich at 80
Classic FM – Photo gallery
Martha Argerich: 11 stunning photos of the great pianist