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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 October 2005, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Polish star scoops piano honour
Rafal Blechacz
Rafal Blechacz has played the piano since the age of five
Pianist Rafal Blechacz has become the first Pole for three decades to win the prestigious Chopin International Piano competition in Warsaw.

Blechacz, 20, won against strong competition from the other 11 mainly Asian finalists.

Held every five years, the competition for young pianists is one of the most important in the classical music world.

Previous winners of the 20,000 euros prize (13,500) have gone on to become the greatest pianists in modern times.

Blechacz impressed the judges so much that they also gave him special prizes for the best performances in all three musical categories of the competition.

The jury did not award the second prize, awarding the third to two South Korean brothers Dong Hyek Lim and Dong Min Lim.

Takashi Yamamoto and Shohei Sekimoto of Japan shared the next prize.

Blechacz, from a small town in northern Poland, is the first Pole to win the competition since 1975, when it was awarded to Krystian Zimmerman.

The audience began rapturous applause for his performance of Chopin's concerto in E minor in the final before he had even finished playing.

Blechacz follows in the footsteps of piano greats Maurizio Pollini and Martha Argerich and can now expect to be in great demand in concert halls all over the world.


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