Leeds International Piano Competition

The Leeds International Piano Competition, informally known as The Leeds and formerly the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition,[1] takes place every three years in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It was founded in 1961 by Marion, Countess of Harewood, Dame Fanny Waterman, and Roslyn Lyons, with the first competition being held in 1963. Waterman was the chair and artistic director up to the 2015 competition when Paul Lewis and Adam Gatehouse became Co-Artistic Directors. The first round of the competition takes place in Berlin, Singapore and New York and the 2nd round, semi-final and finals take place in the Great Hall of the University of Leeds and in Leeds Town Hall.

Leeds International Piano Competition
Piano Victoria Quarter 8 November 2018 2.jpg
One of a trail of public pianos in Leeds City Centre during the 2018 competition
Awarded forExceptional piano performance
LocationGreat Hall of the University of Leeds
Leeds Town Hall
CountryUnited Kingdom
Presented byLeeds International Piano Competition
Formerly calledLeeds International Pianoforte Competition
First awarded1963


2009 competition finals

The competition was first held in September 1963 when the young British pianist, Michael Roll, became the First Prizewinner. It joined the World Federation of International Music Competitions (WFIMC) in 1965.[1] After the 1996 competition, there was a four-year break before the 2000 competition, to align with the turn of the millennium. Competitors were formerly housed at Tetley Hall, a residence hall at the University of Leeds, which closed in 2006 and are still housed in University residences throughout the competition. The University of Leeds is the Principal Partner of the competition and has supported it since its inception.

The list of eminent past Competition winners includes Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia. The roll call of other Competition finalists is equally illustrious as that of the winners and includes Mitsuko Uchida and Sir Andras Schiff (1975), Peter Donohoe (1981), Louis Lortie (1984), Lars Vogt (1990), Denis Kozhukhin (2006) and Louis Schwizgebel (2012). Sofya Gulyak was the first female top prize winner, awarded in 2009.[2]

2006 winner Sunwook Kim with his award

Dame Fanny Waterman was the competition's Chair and Artistic Director until her retirement after the 2015 event and she remained Honorary Life President until her death in 2020. She was replaced as artistic director by Paul Lewis (Jury Chair for 2018) and Adam Gatehouse. Gatehouse is now the competition's sole Artistic Director and will be joined by Imogen Cooper as Chair of the Jury in 2021.

2018 CompetitionEdit

The 2018 competition marked a major refresh to the competition structure:

  • The preliminary round of the competition took place internationally for the first time in Berlin, New York and Singapore.
  • The semi-finalists offered two different recitals (one was chosen by the jury) and included the introduction of chamber music in a new collaborative musicianship feature, working with Bjørg Lewis (cello), Jack Liebeck (violin) and the Elias String Quartet.
  • The concerto finale included five finalists in concert with the Hallé orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner. Finalists offered two concertos, one "classically oriented"[3] and one from the Romantic period or later, and one was selected for performance by the jury.
  • Three main prizes were awarded, as well as the Terence Judd Hallé Orchestra Prize and a new medici.tv audience prize, which was voted for online.
  • A festival programme in Leeds was introduced to bring The Leeds out of the concert hall and into the community.
  • Medici.tv livestreamed all rounds which remain free to view on the competition microsite.
A public piano at The Tetley, part of the Leeds Piano Trail

The prize benefits were redesigned to support the career development of the prizewinners and include mentoring by Paul Lewis and other notable pianists, as well as artist management with Askonas Holt, a recording deal with Warner Classics and a series of international engagements.

A festival programme of masterclasses, talks, educational events and other activities also took place during the competition, including an appearance by Alfred Brendel, free piano lessons in the world's Smallest Concert Hall (a converted shipping container) and the creation of The Leeds Piano Trail across Leeds city centre (pianos for the public to use), supported by The Leeds BID.[4][3]


The concerto finals have been supported by a number of major UK orchestras over the years including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Hallé. Sir Mark Elder has conducted the Hallé Orchestra at all the finals since 2003, with the exception of 2018 when the conductor was Edward Gardner. Other conductors with long associations with the Competition have included Sir Charles Groves and Sir Simon Rattle. The BBC has broadcast all Competitions since 1966 on television and radio. In 2018 the Competition was streamed live online for the first time with medici.tv. The Terrence Judd Hallé Orchestra Prize, selected and awarded by the orchestra to one of the six finalists, was introduced in 2012. A new partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra was announced in 2019 for the 20th Edition in 2021.

Hallé Orchestra with Sir Mark Elder (2003–2018)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle (1987–2000)

BBC Philharmonic with Sir Vernon Handley (1984)

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic with Sir John Pritchard and Sir Charles Groves (1963–1975) & Andrew Manze (2021)

Prize winnersEdit

Year 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
2018   Eric Lu*   Mario Häring**   Xinyuan Wang*** N/A
2015   Anna Tsybuleva   Heejae Kim*   Vitaly Pisarenko   Drew Petersen   Tomoki Kitamura   Yun Wei
2012   Federico Colli   Louis Schwizgebel   Jiayan Sun   Andrejs Osokins   Andrew Tyson*   Jayson Gillham
2009   Sofya Gulyak   Alexej Gorlatch   Alessandro Taverna   David Kadouch   Rachel Cheung   Jianing Kong
2006   Sunwook Kim   Andrew Brownell   Denis Kozhukhin   Alice Wong   Sung-hoon Kim   Grace Fong
2003   Antti Siirala   Evgenia Rubinova   Yuma Osaki   Igor Tchetuev   Chiao-Ying Chang  /  Sodi Braide
2000   Alessio Bax   Davide Franceschetti   Severin von Eckardstein   Cristiano Burato   Ashley Wass   Tatiana Kolesova
1996   Ilya Itin   Roberto Cominati   Aleksandar Madžar   Sa Chen   Armen Babakhanian   Ekaterina Apekisheva
1993   Ricardo Castro   Leon McCawley   Mark Anderson   Filippo Gamba   Maxim Philippov   Margarita Shevchenko
1990   Artur Pizarro   Lars Vogt   Éric Le Sage   Balázs Szokolay   Haesun Paik   Andrei Zheltonog
1987   Vladimir Ovchinnikov   Ian Munro   Noriko Ogawa   Boris Berezovsky   Hugh Tinney   Marcantonio Barone
1984   Jon Kimura Parker   Ju Hee Suh   Junko Otake   Louis Lortie   David Buechner   Emma Tahmizian
1981   Ian Hobson   Wolfgang Manz   Bernard d'Ascoli   Daniel Blumenthal   Christopher O'Riley   Peter Donohoe
1978   Michel Dalberto   Diana Kacso   Lydia Artymiw   Ian Hobson   Kathryn Stott   Etsuko Terada
1975   Dimitri Alexeev   Mitsuko Uchida Joint 3rd prize:
  András Schiff
  Pascal Devoyon
Joint 5th prize:
  Michael Houstoun
  Myung-whun Chung
1972   Murray Perahia   Craig Sheppard   Eugen Indjic N/A
1969   Radu Lupu   Georges Pludermacher   Arthur Moreira Lima   Boris Petrushansky   Anne Queffélec N/A
1966   Rafael Orozco Joint 2nd prize:
  Viktoria Postnikova
  Semyon Kruchin
  Alexey Nasedkin   Jean-Rodolphe Kars N/A
1963   Michael Roll   Vladimir Krainev   Sebastien Risler   Armenta Adams N/A

*Winner of the Terence Judd–Hallé Orchestra Prize.[5][6][7]

**Winner of the Yaltah Menuhin Award.[7]

***Winner of the medici.tv Audience Award.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Leeds International Piano Competition". World Federation of International Music Competitions. 20 February 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  2. ^ Andrew Clements (14 September 2016), "Leeds International Piano competition final – first prize for Anna Tcybuleva, not the obvious choice", The Guardian, retrieved 3 January 2017
  3. ^ a b Paul Lewis (18 October 2016), "Paul Lewis: how we're transforming 'the Leeds' to nurture tomorrow's pianists", The Guardian, retrieved 2 January 2017
  4. ^ 'New Vision' announced for 2018 Competition, Leeds International Piano Competition, 18 October 2016, archived from the original on 3 January 2017, retrieved 2 January 2017
  5. ^ James McCarthy (18 September 2012), "Leeds International Piano Competition 2012 Winner Announced", Gramophone, retrieved 3 January 2017
  6. ^ Heejae Kim piano, Leeds International Piano Competition, 5 April 2016, archived from the original on 3 January 2017, retrieved 3 January 2017 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b c "And the Winner Is… | Leeds International Piano Comp". www.leedspiano.com. Retrieved 22 September 2018.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Leeds International Piano Competition at Wikimedia Commons