The first Chopin Piano Competition was held in 1950, a scholarship program that started in the same year as Chopin’s 100-year anniversary. Initially, the winners received scholarships to continue their musical studies. Among the most popular winners of the Chopin Competition is Van Cliburn who also went on the become an eminent pianist in America. Other winners of note are Ian Hobson and Murray Perahia. The Chopin Piano Competition today has been acknowledged all over the country as an important stepping stone for young pianists who aspire to have a successful musical career. So many Chopin Competition winners have gone on to become well known concert performers and academic professionals.


Today, the Kosciuszko Foundation’s Chopin Competition continues to cater to the academic and professional needs of talented young pianists who perform the works of Chopin and other Polish composers.


All pianists all over the world are eligible to apply for the contest. The requirements that potential applicants need to submit include an application form, a biography letter of 200 words. You also need to provide a letter of recommendation supporting your bid to participate in the competition from a reputable personality which could be a music teacher. Applicants also have to details any significant artistic achievements they have achieved in the last three years.

The first prize winner gets awarded $10,000 and a Gold Medal while the second-place winner gets a Silver Medal and a cash prize of $5,000. A contestant also gets award with the Best Interpretation of a Paderewski Work award to the tune of $1,000. The jury is made up of Jerome Rose of the Manne College, Jeffrey Cohen of the Manhattan School of Music and Marek Zebrowski of the USC Thornton School of Music amongst others.


After the initial rounds, twelve contestants will proceed to the semi-finals with a final six contestants battling it out for the medals and prize money. The Kosciuszko Foundation also holds a masterclass where pianists will learn from foremost experts in Chopin’s music. Special guest artists will also perform two recitals for the audience to show the extent of their knowledge and also inspire the young pianists.


The Kosciuszko Foundation’s Chopin Piano Competition is another way that the foundation seeks to engender better relationships between Poland and the United States through music. The foundation also organizes an international voice competition and offers scholarships to students on both American and Polish descent.