20-year old Bulgarian pianist Emanuil Ivanov wins first prize at celebrated Busoni Piano Competition

“To win first prize at the Busoni Piano Competition is like winning the US Open,” wrote on social media a prominent Bulgarian journalist when Bulgarian Emanuil Ivanov, who is just 20, won the 62nd Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition. One of the most prestigious piano competitions in the world is held in the town of Bolzano, northern Italy, Bozen in German.

The competition was founded by renowned Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. Because of the extraordinarily high requirements set down in the competition rules, first prize has not been awarded on multiple occasions through the years. That is why Emanuil Ivanov’s triumph set off such a wave of acclaimation on the night of September 6. He received compliments from hundreds of Bulgarian musicians and from his tutors at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Pascal Nemirovski and Anthony Hewitt. The competition was available, live, online and classical music fans all over the world were able to hear Emanuil Ivanov’s superb performance of Camille Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto No. 2 Opus 22. In the final round the young pianists performed together with the Haydn orchestra under the baton of Arvo Volmer.

A total of 420 pianists applied to this year’s 62nd edition of the piano competition. After a pre-audition the jury shortlisted 22, and for the grand final 3 – Emanuil Ivanov, Shiori Kuwahara from Japan and Giorgi Gigashvili from Georgia.


Emanuil Ivanov was born in 1998 in the town of Pazardzhik, Bulgaria where he graduated from the Bertolt Brecht foreign language school and took piano lessons with Galina Daskalova. For several years he worked under the tutorship of Prof. Atanas Kurtev in Sofia. He is laureate of a number of international competitions, but the Busoni first prize is, without any doubt, his crowning achievement. His name has now entered the “hall of fame”, alongside the names of the other winners in the competition, among them Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson, Lilya Zilberstein, Boris Bloch, Michael Ponti,Arnaldo Cohen, Anna Kravtchenko. The Bulgarian laureates of the Busoni competition are Ivan Drenikov (3rd prize in 1964), Bojidar Noev (2nd prize in 1965 when no first prize was awarded), Boyan Vodenitcharov (3rd prize in 1981) and Ralitza Pacheva (4th prize in 1999).

Emanuil Ivanov will perform in Sofia on 1 October in a concert by the grand prix laureates of the Young Virtuosos competition. He has also been invited for a recital by the Piano Extravaganza festival on 12 October in Sofia.

Edited by Albena Bezovska
Photos: concorsobusoni.it

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