Rafal Blechacz Chronology

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Music education

June 30, 1985 Born in Nakło nad Notecią, about 300 km away from Warsaw, Poland.
At age of five, began attending the Music Center in Nakło.
At age of six, his father discovered that Rafał had absolute pitch. The decision was made that Rafał should be educated musically by professionals. Received private lessons with Halina Zalejska in Bydgoszcz for about a year.
1993 Enrolled at the Arthur Rubinstein Music School in Bydgoszcz, studying under Jacek Polański for the next seven years.
At age of 11, played for his first concerts at Lutosławski Studio in Warsaw and Paderewski’s Manor in Kąśna Dolna.
Repertoire: Bach’s preludes and fugues, Scarlatti’s sonatas, Mozart, Chopin as well as Moszkowski’s Scherzino.
Later, with an orchestra, played concertos by Bach, Mozart and Chopin.
2000 Transferred to Prof. Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń’s piano class while attending the Rubinstein Music School. After graduation, continued studying under her at Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy, Bydgoszcz.
2007 Graduated from Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy, gaining Master of Arts in Music.
October 2008 Began studying at Doctoral course of Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika (Nicolaus Copernicus University), Toruń.

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Competitive Awards

1995 Special mention at the Warsaw Piano Competition
1996 The Apollo’s Chariot at the J.S. Bach Piano Competition in Gorzów Wielkopolski.
1999 Second prize at the National Chopin Competition for Children and Youth in Jelenia Góra. Received a special award from the Lower Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra.
** Received an award at a competition for composers.
2002 Second prize at the Artur Rubinstein In Memoriam International Young Pianists’ Competition.
2002-04 Participated in the Polish Piano Festival in Słupsk, winning the Youth Stage award. Repertoire: Liszt’s Concerto in A Major, Chopin’s Concerto in E Minor and solo pieces by Bach, Szymanowski and Debussy.
**Also joined Chopin Festivals in Duszniki and Antonin, regarded highly.
2003 Second prize at the International Piano Competition in Hamamatsu together with Alexander Kobrin.
2004 First prize at Morocco’s International Piano Competition.
2005 Grand Prix at the 15th Frederic Chopin International Piano Competition, Warsaw, winning all the Special Awards for best Performance of Mazurka, Polonaise, Concerto and Sonata. (No second prize was awarded in 2005).

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Rafal Blechacz

Illustrated chronology

At age of six, his father found that Rafał had absolute pitch.

-Rafał, tell me what's the name of this sound?
-"C"- he answered running in the room.
-I touched next and the next.
Rafał was running in the room, turned back to the piano and answered without mistakes.

-I touched two sounds, he answered correctly, then chords, he answered right.
Then seven at the same time, all dissonances, difficult to recognize.

-He recognized all.
The absolute hearing.
For me, it was a signal that one should educate him.

-Talent?
-No.
Krzysztof Blechacz is prudent, cautious in words.

- At that time, I didn't know it yet.
I only had a conviction that such a hearing ability cannot be missed.

Read the full story about his childhood. >>

1996 He won the Apollo’s Chariot at the J.S. Bach Piano Competition in Gorzów Wielkopolski.

Jacek Polański, then Rafał ‘s teacher testifies,
“Rafał played many works by Bach at the Bach Competition in Gorzów.
Rafał received max (25) points unanimously from each of the entire jury. (Rafał was 11 years old).”
“We played Bach and Hanon.
Rafał played Hanon without mistakes in dizzy times. He could play 10 exercises without blunder.
He held out extensively potential energy. Each Rafał's performance excited delight.

He was born for piano. He has the genial hearing.
The boy of fantastic capability”.

Read “Born for piano” by Jacek Polański. >>

Rafal Blechacz

Jan Popis recalls;
“Then very shy, very, tiny, small, but very talented Rafał had a chance to look at this contest, its repertoire and the winners, and in 2002, took part in it and got so high.
He has a special kind of talent. Maybe he is not a type of entertainer who comes and immediately throws the audience to their knees as if his talent will explode.

He is rather more introverted, but so natural, so noble and so able to penetrate musical ideas that in this competition he had no equal.”

Read the full story by Jan Popis. >>

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Rafal Blechacz

In 2003, he won the second prize at the International Piano Competition in Hamamatsu together with Alexander Kobrin.

“…..With the exception of Alexander Kobrin, a top prize-winning contestant in the Chopin Piano Competition, among the six contestants selected as the final prizewinners, there were surprisingly a large number of fresh faces with comparatively little career experience…..This is perhaps a revelation of the “devilish charm” of such competitions. Whilst the competition itself built to a crescendo with the outstanding lineup of talent jostling for position, no first place was actually awarded…"
(Hiroko Nakamura, Chairperson of the Judging Committee)

"I'm proud of having won the top prize in the prestigious competition.
I'll tell my friends in Poland about it.
My next target is the 2005 Chopin Competition in Warsaw".
(Rafał Blechacz, from Hamamatsu city's newsletter, 2004)

“Before coming to Japan, I was not for sure if I could do what I was supposed to do.
But after coming here, everyone was kind and caring, so I was relieved.
I wanted to repay their kindness by performing the music as beautifully as possible.
At any stage during the competition, I did not feel that I was playing for the competition.
I always believed that I was playing my recital
and would like the audience to sense something that I tried to communicate with them”.
(Rafał Blechacz, interviewed just after the Hamamatsu Competition, 2003)

Read the entire interview. >>
See repertoire and other photos at the Hamamatsu Competition. >>

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Rafal Blechacz

Rafał Blechacz in Tokyo,
July 2004.

Rafał Blechacz in Tokyo, July 2004.

“Rather than getting himself absorbed in the music, he maneuvered the instrument philosophically and he seemed to observe and ascertain the effectiveness of his interpretations. The level of technical perfection was commendable. “
(Concert review written by Tomoo Shiraishi, 2004)

Read the full review >>

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