Chopin Fundation of The United States
In 1975, and in collaboration with the University of Miami’s School of Music, Mrs. Blanka Rosenstiel presented the First National Chopin Piano Competition of the United States (NCPC) in Miami. Its success inspired Mrs. Rosenstiel to establish the Chopin Foundation of the United States (Chopin Foundation) which was incorporated in 1977. The Chopin Foundation continues to present the NCPC every five years. The 10th edition of the NCPC takes place in Miami in 2020.
From its inception, the Chopin Foundation has maintained close ties with the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw, the organizer of the International Chopin Competition. Since it began in 1927, the Warsaw competition has been recognized as one of the most prestigious competitions in the world, with a long list of renowned winners. Mrs. Rosenstiel realized that there was (and still is!) a need for a Chopin Competition in the US that prepares young American pianists to be able to compete in the international arena. The NCPC follows the same rules as in Warsaw and is always scheduled earlier the same year. The International Chopin Competition automatically accepts the top winners of the NCPC, and the Chopin Foundation pays the expenses for finalists from the NCPC to compete in Poland, if accepted.
The National Chopin Piano Competition is the organization’s flagship event, and it has had a big impact on the careers of many young American pianists. NCPC winners have accumulated prizes and distinctions not only at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, but at other major contests as well.
• 1990: Kevin Kenner wins second prize at the NCPC and Warsaw’s top prize that same year
• 1990: Wendy Chen wins the NCPC and earns a national Young Concert Artists Award in 1991
• 1995: Gabriela Montero, a laureate at the NCPC, earns the Bronze Medal in Warsaw
• 1995: Jon Nakamatsu wins the NCPC and the Gold Medal at the International Cliburn Competition in 1997
• 2000: Ning An wins the NCPC and the top prize at the 2003 International William Kapell Competition
• 2005: Rachel Kudo wins second prize at the NCPC and is named the Gilmore Young Artist in 2008
• 2010: Andrew Tyson, a NCPC finalist, earns a Young Concert Artists Award in 2011 and wins the International Geza Anda Competition in Zurich in 2015
• 2015: Eric Lu, first prize winner in Miami, wins the fourth prize in Warsaw
• 2016: Henry Kramer (a 2010 NCPC finalist) and Alex Beyer (a 2015 NCPC finalist) win the Silver and Bronze Medals respectively at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.
In May 1980, Dr. F. Warren O’Reilly, the Chopin Foundation’s President at the time, gathered a group of volunteers and supporters to form the Chopin Foundation’s first Regional Council in South Florida in order to organize regular events during the years between the Competitions. And so the Chopin Festivals were created. The first project “Chopin and His Contemporaries” was presented over a 3-year period from 1981 – 1983 and featured guest stars such as Jorge Bolet, Ivan Davis, Malcom Frager, Nelson Freire and Garrick Ohlsson. The Chopin Festivals continued to feature the winners of previous NCPCs and notable performers such as Krzysztof Jablonski, Kevin Kenner, Jan Gorbaty, Gabriela Monetero, Carlo Grante, Margarita Shevchenko and Halina Czerny-Stefanska were featured during the 1990’s.
Also, in keeping with Mrs. Rosenstiel’s intention to develop the Chopin Foundation nationally, several other Regional Councils were established. The regional councils promote the Chopin Foundation’s mission and enrich the communities they serve through concerts and local competitions. Currently there are regional councils in San Francisco, Seattle and Virginia
In April 1984, representatives of fourteen Chopin organizations from different countries signed an Agreement of Collaboration which led to the establishment of the International Federation of Chopin Societies (IFCS). The IFCS was formally established in October 1985 during the XIth International Competition and at the Federation’s inaugural meeting, Mrs. Rosenstiel emphasized the importance of providing adequate support to talented young musicians through international exchange programs. The Chopin Foundation remains as a founding member of the IFCS and the Chopin Foundation’s Executive Director, Mrs. Jadwiga Gewert, now serves on its Board of Directors.
Jadwiga Gewert joined the organization in 1993 and soon thereafter became its Executive Director. The years that followed showed an expansion of the Foundation’s activities.
In 1994, the Chopin Foundation expanded its printed publications to include the Polonaise magazine which is published in the Spring and Fall of each year and includes interesting articles on Frederic Chopin and information about the Chopin Foundation’s activities. The publication is mailed to music schools, music teachers, young pianists, music organizations locally and throughout the US, and to Chopin Societies worldwide.
In 1996, the Chopin Foundation began offering the annual Chopin for All free concerts in Miami-Dade County, a program that features performances by young, emerging musicians who have distinguished themselves at national or international competitions – including the NCPC. Young artists are also discovered through Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) programs and the American Pianists Association. In 1999, the series expanded to Fort Lauderdale in partnership with the Broward County Main Library. Since then, the series has included Young Pianists Concerts with selected students (17 years of age or under) of local South Florida music teachers. In 2010, Southern Wine & Spirits of America became the named sponsor of the Chopin for All free concerts. Their extraordinary generosity continues to this day.
The Chopin Foundation started its own Scholarship Program for Young American Pianists in 1998. Over 170 scholarships have been awarded to outstanding young American Pianists, ages 14 to 17, from 22 states. Competitive full scholarships of $1,000 are renewable for four years to students who have demonstrated a special affinity for the interpretation of Chopin’s music. The program was designed to support and encourage young artists to prepare for the NCPC. Half scholarships of $500 may also be awarded to help pianists continue to improve through the 4 year program.
In 2007, the Chopin Foundation celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a benefit concert. The incomparable pianist, Martha Argerich was featured and performed as a soloist and in duo collaborations with legendary violinist, Ida Haendel and pianist, Walter Delahunt.
In 2010, the activities of the Chopin Council of South Florida were merged with the Miami headquarters of the Foundation. The Council’s membership concerts evolved into the Chopin Salon Concerts which are now a free benefit to paid Chopin Foundation Members. The Chopin Salon Concerts are followed by a wine reception and are also open to the general public. Selected performers are typically renowned veterans of the classical music scene or past NCPC winners.
The Chopin Foundation has been a member of the National Music Council since the early days of its founding.