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The 78th Duszniki International Chopin Piano Festival starts today!

The Duszniki International Chopin Piano Festival was first organized in 1946 by Ignacy Potocki. In the post-war period it had a repolonization meaning.

Initially, the festival, with its national reach, promoted only Fryderyk Chopin’s works and Polish pianists. Until 1954 only Polish artists performed on the stage. In 1955, for the first time, a foreign pianist, Chinese Fou Ts’ong played during festival. He won the Third Prize at the 5th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, where he also studied in the piano class of prof. Zbigniew Drzewiecki.
Since 1961 works by other composers have appeared in the programs of recitals and concerts. The first concert not containing works of the patron of the festival was the performance of the Wroclaw Philharmonic Chamber Choir “Cantores Minores Wratislavienses” under the direction of Edmund Kajdasz on August 10, 1976 uring which the Choir performed only songs by Stanislaw Moniuszko. On August 15, 1981, the first piano recital took place, during which there was not one Fryderyk Chopin’s piece. Then, the pianist Joaquin Achucarro performed a program of Bach-Busoni, Beethoven, Debussy, Granados and Albeniz.
The original festival event is “Nocturne”, a candlelit evening concert, where almost all the artists participating in the festival perform. The concert is accompanied by a lecture by a distinguished expert on Frederic Chopin’s work. The idea of “Nocturne” was born after 22 years of annual lectures and talks, which took place since the beginning of the festival. In the framework of the International Chopin Piano Festival in Duszniki-Zdroj are also organized exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, posters and photographs, plays, para-theatrical and operatic events, musical film shows, and lectures illustrated with music, which were held by the Wrocław chapter of the Polish Artists-Musicians’ Association and dedicated to Chopin related issues, scientific sessions on Chopin, the National Courses in Interpreting Chopin’s Works (since 1977), performances by winners of national piano competitions and courses, the Young Performers’ Presentations held in the morning, the Duszniki Debuts, open-air performances of folk ensembles, debates with the participation of celebrated artists, jazz and CD/DVD concerts.

The Artistic Director of the festival was chosen for the first time in 1973. The position of Artistic Director took over the pianist Jerzy Jankowski from Wroclaw and the organizer of the event was the Musical Society of Lower Silesia.
Between 1975 and 1992, the position of Artistic Director of the International Chopin Piano Festival in Duszniki-Zdrój took over the conductors:
Between 1975 and 1985 Tadeusz Strugała, who gave the festival an international name and initiated a series of concerts “Dusznickie debiuty”.
In the years 1986 – 1987 Marek Pijarowski.
Between 1988 and 1992 Jerzy Swoboda.
Since 1993 the Artistic Director of the oldest piano festival in the world is the outstanding pianist Piotr Paleczny.
Since 1990, the festival is organized by The Foundation of the International Chopin Piano Festival in Duszniki-Zdrój, that was set up on the initiative of Andrzej Merkur associated with the festival for many years, a resident of Duszniki working for the Municipal Office Department of Culture and Art (who died in 2018. Currently, the President of the Foundation’s Management Board is Mrs. Jadwiga Merkur).
In 2001, at the initiative of Andrzej Merkur and Piotr Paleczny, The Foundation of the International Chopin Piano Festival in Duszniki-Zdrój began creating the Chopin Center. Since 2002, in this Center master classes have been held, led by eminent pianists-pedagogues. This year’s masterclasses will be led by:  Professor Lidia Grychtołówna and Belin-based pianis Eldar Nebolsin. The course participants are, as usual, finalists of the latest edition of the three-stage National Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition organised by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw.

Artistic Director of the Festival, outstanding pianist prof. Piotr Paleczny announces:: „The Festival opens with a recital by Francesco Piemontesi, called the ‘Wizard of Sound’. Similarly extraordinary emotions also await us in the following evenings, featuring such excellent, much-loved pianists as Federico Colli, Lukas Geniusas, Yulianna Avdeeva, and Anna Geniushene, as well as violinist Hina Maeda, and – last to perform this year – Kate Liu. I would like to attract your special attention to the cello recital by Camilla Thomas, who will be accompanied by pianist Julien Brocal. At the Chopin Manor, you will have the opportunity to hear a unique instrument by Antonio Stradivari, to whose sound Chopin listened shortly before his death when its then owner and his friend, cellist August Franchomme, played excerpts from the Sonata in G Minor, Op. 65 for the dying composer, Franchomme’s music is also included in the concert’s programme. This extraordinary evening may well prove to be one of the Festival’s most moving moments. […]Our afternoon recitals will thus host excellent young artists, many-time winners of the first and other main prizes in the latest editions of great international piano competitions recently held in Bydgoszcz, Tel Aviv, Geneva, Paris, Helsinki, Dublin, Utrecht, Calgary (Canada), and Warsaw. These extremely talented pianists are Mateusz Krzyzowski, Kevin Chen, Giorgi Gigashvili, Hyuk Lee, Piotr Pawlak, Illia Ovcharenko, Yukine Kuroki, and Jakub Kuszlik. The have embarked on extremely dynamic careers, and it will certainly be worthwhile to remember their names.

Equally interesting is the programme of ‘Nocturne’, the traditional night meeting with artists, hosted this time by the Gdańsk-based actor Maciej Konopiński.”

Polish Radio 2 Channel will broadcast the following Festival’s Recitals:

Friday, August 4, 2023 | 20.00 CET | LIVE STREAM

Francesco Piemontesi

Sunday, August 6, 2023 | 19.00 CET | RECORDED

Kevin Chen

Friday, August 11, 2023 | 20.00 CET | LIVE STREAM

Hina Maeda – violin and Michal Francuz – piano

Saturday, August 12, 2023 | 20.00 CET | LIVE STREAM

Kate Liu

To listen to the broadcast, click the link below:

https://player.polskieradio.pl/anteny/dwojka

All recitals (except the recitals on August 4 and Hyuk Lee’s recital on August 8) will be broadcast on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@fundacjamiedzynarodowychfe7529 (links will be published on the Festival’s website and in this article). A detailed program can be found on the Festival’s website: https://festival.pl/en/78th-international-duszniki-piano-festival/

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