Maurizio Pollini at Warsaw “Chopin” Competition

Psychophysical skills, intelligence, family environment, studies, career already covered (from the performance of the twenty-four Chopin Studies at the Circolo della Stampa in Milan in 1957, to the second prize at the Geneva Competition in the same year, to the debut at La Scala in Ghedini's Fantasia in 1958, to the first prize at the Seregno Competition in 1959), explain Maurizio Pollini's participation in the 1960 Warsaw Chopin Competition and his victory as the final moment of a wise and methodical preparation for a career as a concert artist. 

Since 1927 the Chopin Competition, held every five years, had been the prerogative of Slavic, Polish or Russian competitors, and never before had an Italian reached the final stages. 

The cornerstones of the Chopin Competition are the Etudes and the Mazurkas: the executions of Pollini (Etudes Op. 10 n. 1 and n. 10, Op. 25 n. 10 and n. 11, Mazurkas Op. 50 n. 3, Op. 33 n. 3, Op. 59 n. 3) are astonishing and reveal the exceptional extent of his talent at eighteen.  They show us that we are in the presence of a great master of the piano and a lucidly reasoning brain. 

The complex of his performances in Warsaw demonstrates the choice of a stylistic model, Artur Rubinstein, and the in-depth knowledge of some anthological interpretations (Horowitz in the Mazurka Op. 50 n. 3, Benedetti Michelangeli in the trio of the Funeral March of the Sonata Op. 35).  The competitor's professionalism is perfect, and no Beckmesser on the jury will find an opportunity to lift the chalk. 

Maurizio Pollini who at eighteen wins one of the most important and severe competitions is not only a product of nature, of rational preparation, of discipline, of culture, but is also an artist who introduces some ferments of originality into a mechanism that reject them by nature.  Pollini chooses a Mazurka, Op. 33 n. 3, often performed by amateurs being so technically easy. And here he demonstrates that his fabulously confident fingers are only an aspect of his personality and his conception of music, because from very simple repetitions of sounds in the accompaniment he gives birth to a "melody of timbres", a transmutation of color.  

Indirectly, in a contest entirely based on Chopin, Pollini demonstrates that he knows how to dissect a Mozart's Andante, a Beethoven's Adagio, a Brahms' Intermezzo, a Schönberg's Klavierstück.  All the other executions are amazing, but this one, in a boy of eighteen, is truly unimaginable. 

It is here that the extent of Pollini's musical talent is revealed, and it is here that the birth of his personality as an interpreter blossoms.  He proved to be the reader who comes to grasp the author in the moment in which the author looks at himself without building his image for others. 

Ever since his performances at the time, the intention to mirror the text with extreme accuracy is evident, allowing the minimum necessary to the expository rhetoric. 

Chopin was, and would remain forever, one of his beloved authors.

Maurizio Pollini at Warsaw “Chopin” Competition

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