pianist; b. 30th June 1985 in Nakło nad Notecią. He studied at the Artur Rubinstein State Primary School of Music in Bydgoszcz under the supervision of Jacek Polański. In 2007 he graduated from the piano class of Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz.
He is the winner of many awards and honourable mentions at piano competitions, including the 1st Prize and Grand Prix in the 13th Johann Sebastian Bach National Competition in Gorzów Wielkopolski (1996), the 2nd Prize in the 5th "Artur Rubinstein in Memoriam" International Competition for Young Pianists in Bydgoszcz (2002), the prize in the Polish Piano Festival in Słupsk (2002), the victory in the 5th International Piano Competition in Hamamatsu, Japan (2003), the 1st prize in the 4th International Piano Competition in Morocco (2004), the 1st prize and all non-statutory awards for the best performance of mazurkas, polonaise and concerto at the Polish National Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition for candidates for the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (2005), 1st prize and awards for the best performance of mazurkas (Polish Radio), polonaise (The Fryderyk Chopin Society), concerto (National Philharmonic) and sonata (special prize, founded by Krystian Zimerman) at the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (2005).
As the winner of the Grand Prix of the 15th Chopin Piano Competition he started performing in the world’s most prestigious venues such as Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Musikverein in Vienna, Berliner Philharmonie, Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Herkulessaal in Munich, Salle Pleyel and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Royal Festival Hall and the Wigmore Hall in London, Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, Rudolfinum in Prague, Tonhalle in Zurich, La Scala in Milan, Tokyo Opera City and Suntory Hall, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum and Avery Fisher Hall in New York, among others. He is being invited to the best music festivals such as Salzburg, Verbier in Switzerland, La Roque-d'Anthéron (France), Klavier-Festival Ruhr in Germany as well as The Gilmore Festival in the USA. He plays with numerous symphony orchestras, collaborating with world-renowned conductors such as Charles Dutoit, Valery Gergiev, Daniel Harding, Pavo Järvi, Fabio Luisi, Kent Nagono, Andris Nelsons, Victor Pablo Perez, Trevor Pinnock, Mikhail Pletnev, Jerzy Semkow, Antoni Wit and Dawid Zinman.
In 2006 he signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, the German record company. He is the second Polish pianist in history, after Krystian Zimerman, signed up by this prestigious label. Rafal Blechacz’s first album with Fryderyk Chopin’s Preludes appeared in 2007. In Poland it obtained the platinum status just in the second week of sale. It has been honoured with many awards, among others by German Echo Klassik and French Diapason d’Or. The next album, this time with sonatas of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, was released one year later and again it was received very well. After the success of the two first albums the artist celebrated the Chopin’s Year of 2010 with the recording of both Chopin’s Piano Concertos conducted by Jerzy Semkow and legendary Concertgebouw Orchestra, proclaimed in 2009 by the British magazine Gramophone the best orchestra of the world. This time the already third album of Rafał Blechacz was honoured with Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the prestigious award of critics from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In Poland it obtained the double platinum status in the short period of time. The next recording with works by Debussy and Szymanowski, due to a thoughtful selection of the repertoire, as well as masterful performance, gained significant publicity and recognition among the international music critics. In 2012 the Deutsche Phono Akademie awarded Blechacz the Echo Klassik prize in category of the Best Solo Album of the Year (19th and 20th century). Furthermore, this same recording was honoured as the Album of the Month by the British magazine Gramophone. It was also recognized with the Polish phonographic Fryderyk Award as the best classical music album of 2013. In the fall of 2013 Rafał Blechacz returned to Chopin’s repertoire and recorded his seven grand polonaises. This album obtained the gold record status on the first day of sale. Soon after, it was honoured with Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik as the best album in the category Piano music (2013).
In July 2010 Rafał Blechacz received the Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Siena) award for his overall artistic achievements bestowed on him by the international jury of music critics. In January 2014 in New York he was pronounced the winner of the Gilmore Artist Award 2014, awarded every four years to a concert pianist for career development. On 24th February 2015 at the concert in the Warsaw Philharmonic Rafal Blechacz was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta by the President of the Republic of Poland.
updated: 2020 (ac)
Artist’s website: www.blechacz.net