The Russian pianist Yulianna Avdeeva became the first woman in 45 years to win the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw.
Avdeeva, 25, was one of 82 pianists, including 16 from Japan and 13 from China, to take part in the competition, which is held every five years. Winning the gold medal and $41,000 prize is believed to help open doors to concert engagements around the world and recording contracts.
As is often the case in high-profile competitions, this one wasn’t without controversy.
"The verdict is shocking," Poland's broadsheet Rzeczpospolita daily said Thursday in a full-page review of the competition results.
"Avdeeva is one of those pianists accustomed to contests, who plays confidently, without the smallest difficulty, but is lamentably predictable," the review said.
The contest is known for its tough judging — in 1990 and 1995 none of the contestants was deemed good enough for the top prize. Past winners include Martha Argerich and Maurizio Pollini.
The runner-up prize was shared between Ingolf Wunder, a 25-year-old Austrian, and Moscow-born Lithuanian Lukas Geniusas, 20.
The competition started in 1927 and has been held every five years since, except for a hiatus during World War II.
Avdeeva is scheduled to perform with the New York Philharmonic on October 29 in Warsaw, as part of its European tour, and on January 4 in New York.