A Polish pianist protests the Chopin result

A Polish pianist protests the Chopin result


norman lebrecht

October 23, 2021

The Polish-Hungarian pianist Piotr Anderszewski has voiced his dismay at the absence of a 17 year-old pianist from the Chopin Competition prizes.

In remarks quoted by Polish media he says: ‘I cannot understand that a musician of Eva Gevorgyan’s talent and sensibility is not among the laureates. It is shocking for me.’

The chairman of the jury Professor Popowa-Zydroń has responded: ‘Eva’s name came up in proposals for certain prizes. However there were only a few (single) votes. She is a great pianist, however we are looking for a ‘Chopinist’. She is far from it. She is not completely emotionally shaped, but I have no doubt that this will come with time.’

The aftershocks of a controversial outcome continue.


  • Michael says:

    Gevorgyan is without doubt an extraordinary talent and in different repertoire, would have left the field in her wake. But Chopin does not come naturally to her, offering only glimpses – as in the Sonata – of her prodigious gifts. Her Mazurkas lacked charm, the Concerto was timid.

    For all the contentiousness about the jury’s other choices, I can respect the feeling that a talent such as hers, at the age of 17, is better served with no prize at all, than a 5th or 6th prize (which, given the better-rounded competition, would have been her highest possible rank) unbecoming of her potential.

    She could return to Warsaw in four years and dominate. More likely, her career will be well beyond competitions by that point.

    • Jon says:

      She herself said she does not feel comfortable with Chopin and her main goal is to feel at home in any repertoire. I dont think she is unhappy about the result at all

    • debuschubertussy says:

      Agreed. I hope she will get a chance to compete in the Tchaikovsky competition, I have a feeling Russian repertoire plays well to her strengths. Still, though, finalist at the Chopin competition at 17 is spectacular.

      • Not Debussy, not Schubert says:

        Nothing too spectacular. J J Jun Li Bui, 6th prize winner is 17 and younger than her by a couple of months. He has so much more finesse, details and clarity and beauty. A fine student of Dang Thai Son.

    • Not a fortune teller says:

      Why are you so certain that she can return in four years and do better? No one can say for sure. For me, she seems to have reached her limit at 17. I doubt she can make it further. As for Tchaikovsky competition, it is first and foremost for their own countrymen. Sure she can get somewhere there.

  • Average Opinion says:

    If they were looking for a chopinist, they would pick Sorita. With all due respect to the very gifted winner, he doesn’t strike as a chopinist either. Besides, Pyotr’s opinion carries quite a bit more weight than that judge, who is virtually unknown outside of Poland.

    • Jonathan Sutherland says:

      I agree with Average Opinion’s last point.
      Madame Popowa-Zydroń is at best a provincial and politically connected pedagogue who can hardly be considered in the same pianistic league as Martha Argerich who regrettably resigned from the jury before the competition began.
      Further, the fact that Popowa-Zydroń had multiple students in the competition is hardly an indication of optimal judicial objectivity.
      Finally, the term ‘Chopinist’ is inherently untenable.
      Despite a handful of contemporary accounts of Chopin’s very few concerts, no one really knows exactly how he played.
      To pontificate about who or what is a ‘Chopinist’ is as nugatory as it is presumptuous.
      It would have been far more appropriate for Madame Popowa-Zydroń to simply rebut Piotr Anderszewski with the comment that at 17 Eva Gevorgyan has not yet sufficiently matured as an artist to be a prize-worthy competitor.
      There is little argument that by the XIX Chopin competition and four more years of concert performances, Miss Gevorgyan will have more than overcome such criticism.
      And perhaps Madame Popowa-Zydroń will be pensioned off back to Bydgoszcz as well.

      • Elisabeth says:

        In a world full of such people and opinions, there will be no need for study, no need for research, no need to uphold tradition, play as you like, bang as you wish. There is no need to adhere to the composers intentions, no need to stay true to the composers wishes… only modern 21st century pianism and the loudest win. What do you think will happen to the piano field when you and I are gone from this earth? Shortsightedness brings death, vision brings hope and life.

      • Williams says:

        On the contrary, I have a lot of respect for the Chairlady Popowa-Zydroń. I have seen her perform and teach. Lots of finesse, details and sensitivity. Always intelligent, always full of great ideas. And I fully agree with her statement about Gevorgyan. She is far from it.

    • Małgorzata says:

      Absolutnie nie zgadzam się , że Piotr Anderszewski nie jest znany poza Polską! To nie prawda . Jak najbardziej jest znany !!!!!!! Doskonale gra m.in. Bacha . To doskonały pianista – kameralista. I Europa o tym wie.

      • Brettermeier says:

        “Absolutnie nie zgadzam się , że Piotr Anderszewski nie jest znany poza Polską!”

        He meant “that judge”, not Anderszewski.

  • Zandonai says:

    I guess Eva was not on their chopin list.
    Like the Nobel Prize, this Chopin Competition business has become a farce and a joke.

  • Krystyna Collier says:

    I have same objections regarding Sorita, who should be the winner. Placing him with Godjev , is complete mismatch of standards. While Bruce Liu might be jury favorite, he should at least share 1sf prize with Sorita. Personally , favoritism turns me away from watching future competitions. It should be about talent and only talent.

    • Fliszt says:

      No, it should be about what they DO with their talent.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I agree, in part, but I have fears Sorita will morph into another Lang Lang – only Japanese, of course. It’s a feeling I have deep down and it disturbed me. He did say he was heading off to study conducting, which sounds extremely promising.

  • Nijinsky says:

    The honorable head of the Jury might have spared himself from remarking further after listing the vote tally. Um…. That they were looking for something called a “chopinist” as if it’s an animal available at the pet store; or remarking about somebody’s emotional “shape,” in an attempt to be “objective” rather colors things…..

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      It’s all so YESTERDAY, isn’t it. And they made the prize-winners come back for endless encore performances – of the same works. This was a very bad look.

      • Aye, none? says:

        > And they made the prize-winners come back for endless encore performances – of the same works.

        To be fair, it was the same thing in 2015 and 2010. There were more than one prize-winners’ concert.

  • debuschubertussy says:

    Eva was fantastic but clearly still finding her way as an artist. Watch out for her in 4 years (not to mention should she enter the Tchaikovsky competition in her home country!)

  • John says:

    Well, seems to me like you just answered yourself, didn’t you? “She’s far from being a Chopinist and not emotionally shaped yet”… So, why are we even discussing this?

  • Steven Holloway says:

    And where is all the controversy, replete with aftershocks? Surely not in the list of ‘things learnt’ you provide a link to.

  • Nadia says:

    Just a smitten young man drawn towards a young woman who simply has no access to certain emotions. She is not the only one among finalists who will never become psychologically rich. Learning to superficially fake it will be their limit. As of now, she is unable to do even that. Then again, their audiences are easily satisfied and their purpose is not sharing true art anyway.
    More importantly, more and more people (of all walks of life) recognize and appreciate sincere artists as it’s understood, that only with genuine intentions realms of true art can be entered.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    One of the dangers in any competition, beside the fact that the age limit is just at the cusp when many musicians begin to truly mature in their lives and the music making reflects that coming of age, is that young musicians become branded too soon. If they win, they must uphold that, however, the win fades and their maturity must take over in time. If they do not win, they are branded at the moment of not winning, which is, of course, discouraging, but also nabs them as not winning too early in their musical development. In honesty, I could never quite fathom the age limit. Whether it be music by Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, Liszt etc, it takes time, it takes decades, it takes living to feel a certain organic chemistry between the player and the music. One thing we do not want is to see any competition become bigger than that goal. The yellow brick road can be a long journey, and frankly, could also be a short one if winners of these competitions cannot sustain a career.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to address issues around the upper age limit (intelligently, as always). What is your take on the lower age limit?

    • Jerffrey, you are so wise about the compeitition vs maturity aspect, especially, for a composer who is as complex as Chopin. Younger people sometimes get caught up in what they perceive as the bombastic and dramatic, without recognizing the extreme complexities, musically, and emotionally, of his music. Youth has time to grow and mature. The graveyard of pianists is strewn with competition winners, chosen before their time.

  • DML says:

    Afraid I didn’t hear any of the competition but in 2020 she won:
    1st Prize at the Jeune Chopin International Piano Competition in Switzerland, Catégorie 3 (15-18 ans).
    1st Grand Prize at the Chicago International Music Competition and Festival, Professional Division. Special prize for the best performance of a work by Chopin.

    • Lover of Chopin's Music says:

      It does not matter if she won this or that, here or there. It matters how she performed at the Chopin competition which is what the Chairlady said during the competition. We do not judge the potential or past glory. We should judge based on what happened at the competition. Unfortunately she cannot play Chopin. In fact her playing was very primitive. As it was, most of the jury members do not think she deserves a prize.

  • George says:

    What the hell does “Chopinist” even mean??? That is such bullshit! The whole Chopin competition is a disgrace and a joke! Pianists playing their note-perfect polonaise-fantaisies like it’s a McDonald’s!

    • Annie says:

      Because you are not one. Eva Gevorgyan is amongst the McDonald’s players that is why it is a no prize for her.

  • Williams says:

    I beg to differ from the protest. Eva Gevorgyan is far from the other finalists. She should not even be in the finals. She is a competition horse and at 17 looks like 27, learning the way of seducing the audience by way of dressing and acting on the stage. All that faking, cold and ferocious banging as cover up for poor virtuosity, lack of maturity, knowledge and appreciation of Chopin’s music. Hers is a well deserved no prize from a reputable group of jury who has spend their lives learning, teaching and performing Chopin’s music. As Margaret Kolsielny aptly puts it, her place among the graveyard of winners chosen before their time is knocking at her door. Poor soul.

    • Average Opinion says:

      This is extremely insensitive opinion. What do you know about how to play Chopin? And sorry, not all of the jury are particularly memorable as Chopin interpreters either (I’d say in fact most aren’t) or even Chopin teachers. The fact that you didn’t see an immense talent in her speaks volumes of your perplexed aesthetic principles. Yes, it was not the most organic Chopin, but denying that there is potential to grow into one of the most serious artists, is foolish.

      • Kaiser says:

        Competitions don’t judge potential. They judge what was played at the time of the performance. Potential or not aside the point, this pianist did not and could not make it during the competition. I have to agree that she was one of the worst finalists. I would have ranked her a 9 if not 10. I think most of the jury members are either winners of past competitions, Chopin authorities, teachers or performers. You can check it out. Each one of us is entitled to our opinions so I think you should refrain from calling someone foolish as someone could equally call you mediocre or average opinion.

      • Williams and not a fortune teller says:

        The entire competition consists of many extraordinary talents. This girl pales in comparison with many of the 3rd round candidates and finalists. Did you even follow the competition at all? I doubt it as you are not even acquainted with the composition of the jurors. Potential or growth or not, only time will tell. Let us not be fortune tellers.

    • jerry says:

      your sexist comment only shows that you have a dirty mind

  • Gaga says:

    That Eva plays beautifully, that, s true. But she is still not at the level of the winners. By the way I don, t like at all the robotic and thin playing of the winner Liu. And like very much the rest of the winners Garcia(well, he is a Chopinist for me), Gadjiev and Sorita. Congratulations to all.

  • Annie says:

    Not all but particularly the ones who protests.. they look more and hear less.

  • Jasmine says:

    I don’t understand why she was even in the final. There were many semifinalists who were much better than her, like Szymon Nehring, Miyu Shindo etc. Just a few minutes of hearing her tells you she is already at her maximum capacity.
    Some people have rigged mentalities and continue giving attention to those who are undeserving!

  • Von Carry-on says:

    For crissakes, she’s only 17 and splendidly talented, so leave her alone! Reaching the finals of one of the world’s premier competitions is an amazing achievement, so let’s applaud her for that, and hope she’ll leave the contest circuit now, build her repertoire, study chamber music, and develop into a profound musician. More power to her!!!

  • chopin45 says:

    Seems like so many smart and over smart experts here. Why don’t all of you apply to become judges in next competition 2025. I’m interested to listen to the winner of your choice.
    Because at the moment the winner is a result of compromise of 17 judges from different countries, background, world class pianist etc.
    It is not one man decision.

    • Annie says:

      Bravo, finally someone who makes sense! She’s off the mark as explained by the Chairlady. She only got a couple of votes out of the 17 member team.

  • Aleksandra says:

    Hehehe, so it’s Popowa & gang “let me tell you who Chopinist is” competition, now? Such a clown. You guys had no integrity nor authority nor common decency to do your (well payed) job properly ie to pick 6 award-winning competitors, oh no.. Oh, surprise, no other than Professor Popowa’s student Kuszlik gets 4th award along with Aimi, and Sorita – Piotr Palezny’s student – gets 2nd, with Gadjiev, and no1 and 6 goes to good ol’
    Dang Thai Son’s students, Lui and JJ? Is this how you ended with record breaking 8 award-winning contestants(), you Clown? Was it Lloyd Webber who said “music competitions exist only as a way for teachers (ie jury members in this case) to promote their own pupils”..? Yup. He sure was right..

  • Passer by says:

    Jury, mindful of Pogorelich, probably did not want to infuriate their esteemed colleague Martha Argerich, who previously was on a jury which gave Eva 1st prize (Jeune Chopin). So they had Eva crawled into the finals, as we say in Poland about borderline cases advancing (przeczołgali ją). Now Martha can hear for herself….
    What is infuriating is that Eva is now supporting Bruce Liu in his Polish mini-concert tour, whereas other laureates are nowhere to be seen. She is after fame, as anyone can clearly see now.
    I don’t believe she will come back to Warsaw; her goal was apparently not to be just a winner, bu the youngest winner of the Chopin competition in history… That goal is over, however.