Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz is the winner of the Gilmore Artist Award, one of the most prestigious music awards in the world. Awarded every four years to a distinguished, extraordinary concert pianist, regardless of age or nationality, Blechacz received the award in January 2014. The young Polish pianist has established himself firmly on the international concert scene, and is celebrated by both the audience and the press worldwide for his profound and virtuosic interpretations.
At the early stages of his career he participated in many music festivals and prestigious competitions. He was awarded 1st Prize and Grand Prix at the 13th All-Poland Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Gorzów Wielokpolski in1996, and 2nd Prize at the 5th International Young Pianists Competition “Artur Rubinstein in memoriam” in Bydgoszcz in 2002. His progress continued the following year when he was named co-winner of the 5th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan.
In October 2005 Blechacz emerged as unquestionable winner of the 15th Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland (to underscore his distinguished performance among the remaining Competition participants, the international jury decided not to award the 2nd prize). All the special prizes of the Competition went to him as well: Polish Radio Prize for the best performance of the mazurkas, Frédéric Chopin Society Prize for the best performance of the polonaise, National Philharmonic of Poland Prize for the best performance of the concerto, and the Krystian Zimerman Prize for the best performance of the sonata. He also won the Audience Award.
In July 2010 he received the prestigious Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Siena, Italy) awarded annually by the international jury of music critics to the young musicians for their superb artistic achievements.
Blechacz’s victory in Warsaw in 2005 opened the doors of the world’s most renowned concert halls such as the Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall in Lodon, Berliner Philharmonie, Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Maison symphonique de Montréal, Herkulessaal in Munich, Alte Oper in Frankfurt/Main, Liederhalle in Stuttgart, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Tonhalle in Zurich, Victoria Hall in Geneva, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, La Scala in Milan, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, just to name a few. The most acclaimed music festivals, such as Salzburg in Austria, Verbier in Switzerland, La Roque-d’Anthéron in France, Klavier Festival Ruhr in Germany and Gilmore Festival in the United States continue to invite Blechacz to perform time and time again. He has performed under the direction of such conductors as Charles Dutoit, Valery Gergiev, Daniel Harding, Pavo Järvi, Fabio Luisi, Kent Nagano, Andris Nelsons, Viktor Pablo Perez, Trevor Pinnock, Mikhail Pletnev, Jerzy Semkow, John Storgards, Antoni Wit, David Zinman and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
In May 2006 Blechacz was invited to sign an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon becoming only the second Polish artist, after Krystian Zimerman, who records for this prestigious classical music label. His first Deutsche Grammophon CD, featuring all the Preludes by Frédéric Chopin, was released in Europe in October 2007 and attained Platinum Record status in Poland in just the second week of sale. This CD also won the German Echo Klassik and French Diapason d’Or awards. One year later, his second CD, with sonatas by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, immediately garnered critical acclaim. Following the success of his first two recordings, he honored Chopin’s anniversary year in 2010 by recording Chopin’s Concertos for the “Yellow Label” with the acclaimed Concertgebouw Orchestra under the baton of Jerzy Semkow. Soon after, the Concertos CD was awarded the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, a prestigious prize of German music critics. After its release in Poland, it quickly reached Double Platinum status.
His fourth recording for Deutsche Grammophon, entitled “Debussy/Szymanowski” was released in February 2012. It received tremendous international acclaim as well as the title Recording of the Month from British “Gramophone” in May 2012. In July 2012 the Deutsche Phono-Akademie bestowed its distinguished annual prize ECHO-Klassik on the Debussy/Szymanowski CD in the category of piano solo recording of the year (20th/21st century). In April 2013, the same album received the Fryderyk prize, the most prestigious prize in the field of music in Poland. Blechacz once again returned to Chopin with a recording of Polonaises Nos. 1-7 released by Deutsche Grammophon in 2013. His upcoming recording will feature works by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Born in 1985 in Nakło nad Notecią, Bydgoszcz province, Poland, Blechacz began his piano lessons at the age of five. He continued his piano education at the Artur Rubinstein State School of Music in Bydgoszcz. Next, he progressed to study at the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz, where he graduated in May 2007 from Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń’s piano class.