Want to win the Cliburn? Play Prok 3, Rach 2 or Tchaikovsky 1

Posted Saturday, Jun. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Year Winner Country Concertos in the Finals
1981Andre-Michel SchubUSABeethoven Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19
1997Jon NakamatsuUSABeethoven Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19
1962Ralph VotapekUSABeethoven Piano Concerto No. 4, in G Major, Op. 58
1973Vladimir ViardoUSSRBeethoven Piano Concerto No. 4, in G Major, Op. 58
1966Radu LupuRumaniaBeethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73
1969Cristina OrtizBrazilBrahms Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
2009Nobuyuki TsujiiJapanChopin Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11
1989Alexei SultanovUSSRChopin Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21
1977Steven De GrooteSouth AfricaMozart Piano Concerto in A Major, K. 488
1993Simone PedroniItalyMozart Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, K. 453
2005Alexander KobrinRussiaMozart Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466
2009Haochen ZhangChinaMozart Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466
2001Stanislav IoudenitchUzbekistanMozart Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467
1985Jose FeghaliBrazilMozart Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor K. 491
2001Olga KernRussiaMozart Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat major K. 595
2009Haochen ZhangChinaProkofiev Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16
1966Radu LupuRumaniaProkofiev Piano Concerto No. 2, first movement
1962Ralph VotapekUSAProkofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major
1973Vladimir ViardoUSSRProkofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major
1977Steven De GrooteSouth AfricaProkofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major
1989Alexei SultanovUSSRRachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
1993Simone PedroniItalyRachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
2009Nobuyuki TsujiiJapanRachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
1997Jon NakamatsuUSARachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30
2001Olga KernRussiaRachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30
1966Radu LupuRumaniaRachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 4, first movement
2005Alexander KobrinRussiaRachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
1981Andre-Michel SchubUSATchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23
1985Jose FeghaliBrazilTchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23
2001Stanislav IoudenitchUzbekistanTchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23

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If you want to win the Cliburn, you better play one of the Big 3.

According to an analysis of past Cliburn winners and their final concerti, three concertos tied for the most played by the pianists who took home the gold: Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Prokofiev’s third concerto was an early favorite, played by inaugural winner Ralph Votapek in 1962, Vladimir Viardo in 1973 and Steven De Groote in 1977 while Rachmaninoff’s second concerto has become popular in the last two decades with 1989 winner Alexei Sultanov, 1993 winner Simone Pedroni and 2009 gold medalist Nobuyuki Tsujii playing the piece in the finals.

With the memory of Van Cliburn’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s first concerto shadowing the competition in its early years, it wasn’t until 1981 when Andre-Michel Schub played the piece in the finals that a winner successfully tackled the concerto. Jose Feghali in 1985 and Stanislav Ioudenitch also played the concerto to victory.

This year, Vadym Kholodenko was the only competitor to play Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Tomoki Sakata, the youngest competitor, is the only one to play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. No one is playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Instead, audiences at Bass Hall will get to hear Rachmaninoff’s third concerto twice during the finals.

-Andrea Ahles

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