11-year-old Ivaylo Vassilev wins first prize at Schelkunchik piano competition in Moscow

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Photo: dberbatov.org

Ivaylo is only 11 years old but has already gained remarkable popularity which grows with each new prize he receives. “This child has “flying” hands,” is what Madrid-based Bulgarian piano teacher Vladimir Vladimirov says about the young pianist. “Ivaylo plays with a beautiful sound production and he also composes for piano and violin. Few children of his age practice their technique performing Rachmaninoff's preludes, Bach's three-part inventions andClaude Debussy's Études. In spite of his fragile age, he possesses an open-minded and versatile personality”, he adds. Ivaylo is a student at the Lyubomir Pipkov National Music in the class of Emilia Kaneva. A well-known pedagogue, she has trained a number of prominent Bulgarian pianists who have won prizes at prestigious competitions.


Only a couple of days ago, Ivaylo was ranked first in the Schelkunchik international competition ("Nutcracker") for children under the age of 14. The television competition was established by the Russian television channel „Kultura” (Culture) back in 2000 and has been held annually since then. According to the regulations, children compete in three rounds. The final round is accompanied by an orchestra conducted this year by renowned conductor Mischa Damev who was also a member of the jury. Ivaylo Vassilev played the third part of Mozart’s Concerto No. 12 in A major. He will perform the same work also in April together with the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra.

At this year’s edition of the Schelkunchik competition, the piano jury was chaired by the famous Russian pianist and pedagogue Dmitri Bashkirov, as Ivaylo was one of the youngest finalists. Last year he got awarded at the seventh edition of the International Piano Competition in the name of Anna Artobolevskaya (prominent Russian pianist and pedagogue) held in Moscow, where he again won the first prize. He competed with 8 works and at the closing concert he captivated the audience with his rendition of Modest Mussorgsky's Children’s Games. The enraptured audience clapped for an encore where he had the opportunity to present his interpretation of Toccatina-Collage from Rodion Schedrin's Polyphonic Notebook for Piano. In Moscow, the then 10-year-old pianist came across Rachmaninoff's Six Moments Musicaux (Six Musical Moments). He started to study the fourth of them and was fascinated with the music. He chose it as a piece to perform at the De Bach au Jazz competition (from Bach to Jazz) taking place in Greece, where pianists up to 25 years of age compete, but the big prize is one for all age groups. Ivaylo was the winner.


In one of the latest music textbooks for the Bulgarian schools, Ivaylo tells the first-grade pupils about the piano as an instrument, as the electronic version of the textbook includes a couple of his performances. He hopes to enter the music textbooks also as a composer with some of his works, including Village, Scherzo and others. He has already fulfilled his dream of playing in the Sofia-based Bulgaria concert hall. One of his dreams now is to be able to perform on the stage of London’s Royal Albert Hall one day. He is planning to use his prize money and scholarship contributions to buy himself a black grand piano for practicing at home.

English: Rossitsa Petcova

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