Piano Street Magazine

2010 Chopin Piano Competition Winner: Russia’s Avdeeva

October 21st, 2010 in Piano News by | 20 comments

Russia’s Yulianna Avdeeva won the prestigious 2010 International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition on Wednesday after a three-week musical marathon followed avidly by classical music lovers around the globe. The competition, the oldest of its kind in the world, is held every five years in the Polish capital and has built up an especially enthusiastic following in Asia. A jury that included several world-famous pianists such as Martha Argerich and Kevin Kenner chose Avdeeva, 25, from among 10 finalists after lengthy late-night deliberations at the end of a competition marked by the high quality of its performances.

Ingolf Wunder of Austria and Lukas Geniusas of Russia/Lithuania won joint second place, Russia’s Daniil Trifonov came third and Bulgaria’s Evgeni Bozhanov fourth.

Avdeeva, whose expressive and mature performance of Chopin’s Concerto in E minor drew a standing ovation on Tuesday evening, studied in Moscow and is now working as an assistant to a Russian professor at the Hochschule fuer Musik und Theater in Zurich, Switzerland. Avdeeva has performed in more than 20 countries including the United States and Japan and has won a number of prizes.

This year’s 16th Chopin competition attracted especially strong interest because it coincided with the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth — to a Polish mother and French father — in a village near Warsaw in 1810. There were some 3,000 events including concerts dedicated to Chopin’s bicentenary worldwide in the first half of 2010 alone.


Of the 81 original finalists in this year’s Chopin Competition, selected after preliminary auditions in the spring, 16 were from Japan and 13 from China, highlighting Asia’s increasing clout in the field of Western classical music. However, no Asians were among the final 10 frontrunners playing before the 13-member jury in Warsaw’s National Philharmonia this week. That did not seem to cloud the excitement of the many Japanese, Korean and Chinese visitors to Warsaw.

“I have come here (to the Philharmonia) every day since I arrived in Poland. The level of playing is so high,” said Misato Ota, a piano teacher from Japan.

“We Japanese love Chopin for the delicacy and the mystic quality of his music,” she said, adding that she had wanted Polish finalist Pawel Wakarecy to win the competition.

The oeuvre of Chopin, called “Prince of the Romantics” by his most recent biographer Adam Zamoyski, ranges from elegiac sonatas to lively Mazurka folk dances.

Chopin left Poland at the age of 20 and spent most of his adult life in Paris but he remained a staunch patriot and his work is suffused with nostalgia for his homeland, at that time partitioned between Russia, Austria-Hungary and Prussia. In exile, he counted fellow composers Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz and artist Eugene Delacroix among his friends. He had a turbulent love affair with the female novelist George Sand. Dogged by poor health, he died in 1849 aged just 39.

Gareth Jones, Warsaw (Reuters Life!)


  • Henning Lassen says:

    If I could play like that, I would never go to bed :-)
    Henning Lassen

  • M. Liu says:

    “Expressive and mature performance” it may be — and I congratulate Yulianna Avdeeva for her Chopin Competition win — but while the memory of Nobuyuki Tsujii’s performance of this concerto at the 2009 Cliburn is still fresh in memory, I don’t believe that I am biased in thinking that her rendition pales by comparison. To me, the energy is lacking in the 3rd movement, and the first two movements fail to move me. Overall, the interpretation is — dare I say — too feminine. I am interested to hear it from those who may be less subjective than me – I am admittedly an ardent Tsujii fan.

  • How wonderful to hear and also to see. She goes extremely deep into the music. Too many young pianists today, seems to have their eyes up under the roof, or somewhere else, far from the piano. Look at pianists as Lang-Lang for example. Compare to Horowitz. He almost never look in any other direction than the keys. Avdeeva is where the music is created. She performs the deepest, sensitive perforence possible. God bless her.

  • Frederik van der Heide says:

    Fantastic job of the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition to enable everyone with an internet connection to follow the concours.
    Lukas Geniusas was my favourite, and I’m glad he ended in second place.
    I hope to hear him in Amsterdam soon!

  • sonia says:

    I would like to hear her playing… how can I do that??? thanks for any info…

  • nilsjohan says:

    We just added a short video to the above post but you can listen to Avdeeva’s and the other competititors’ complete programs in the video archive on the official competition website:

  • James says:

    Perhaps it is the computer I’m listtening through, but I found the performance unconvincing and uninvolving. Suggest Dmitri Sgouros’s interpretation, although perhaps that goes the other way of being a bit too tempestuous and histrionic.

  • kolata says:

    Avdiejeva schould be ewen in second part of elimination … how do this happend?

  • kolata says:

    Avdiejeva schouldnt be ewen in second part of eliminations.. how do this happend ?? scandal wasnt newer before

  • Alexandra matlin says:

    Rubinstein said, to paraphrase, “a great pianist, a perfect pianist, I ask: can you make music?”. Spectacular playing, but not lovely, not expressive here in this piece. I liked the concerto but not polonaise fantasies either.

  • Christopher says:

    …And doesn’t she look a bit like Chopin’s daughter? I have listened to her concert in E minor and compared with Zimerman’s – I think they are equal and some parts she played even better…I think.

  • RIck says:

    I actually enjoyed Avdeeva’s playing very much. It was truely heart-felt. I have always been a lover of Chopin’s music and have played many of his compositions while in school. I feel when you get to this level of competition that you have to go with whoever has the ability to bring into their performance and she does that. Having said that, I still perfer Yundi Li’s playing as he is my favorite Chopin interpreter of todays performers.

  • Ebony Khadija says:

    I have listend to many of the Pianist in this competition of Chopin 2010. Feelings always run high on who is the best. Being human we are always subjective and emotionally envolved. What is truly important and often overlooked by us listeners is just to be part of the 81 contestants is a great honor. And for me they all are profis. My congratulations go exspecially to Mrs. Yulianna Avdeeva. I found her performance par excellence with a very musical enterpretation that is overwhelmingly convincing. She truly earned her award!

  • francesca says:

    i think her interpretation of chopins piano concerto was fantastic!
    congrats yulianna!!!!

  • Carlos Lantadilla says:

    incredible master it, your beautiful piano! Yamaha duo Avdeeva and perfect! !!

  • Enya says:

    Avdeeva is going to give a recital of Chopin’s oeuvres at the National Performaning Art Center in Beijing, China, on the 12th of December this year! :)

  • pamj says:

    Very moving performances. I look forward to watching the development of her international career and hope that she will have engagements in Britain soon.

  • Paul says:

    I can’t believe the Asian countries are making a big fuss about things. If no Japanese, Chinese, or Koreans did not make it to the finals, then they weren;t GOOD ENOUGH for it! Wake up! Grow up, and live with the choice.

  • catherine pham says:

    To Paul,
    where in this article does it say that the Asian countries are making a big fuss…? in fact, the opposite is true….read the article again…pathetic

  • Dr Thomas Derbe says:

    I agree that her play is maybe a little bit too feminine, but I like it. Unfortunately she misses the right keys -2.35 min. before the end of the 1st movement (see part 2 of 1st movement on YouTube), which is to me the emotional climax of this movement . But I admit the extreme difficulty of such live-performance, not without forgetting the unlucky light incident (-7.40 min. before end of the 1st movement) who could have actually interrupt her concentration.

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