University piano prodigy wins international competition

May 11 / 61

Bachelor of Music student Peter de Jager has won the Australian National University’s Australian 2011 International Chopin Piano Competition.

He beat local and international competitors to win the top prize. 

Mr de Jager is in his second year, majoring in composition after completing two years’ advanced performance study at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM). 

He said change was his main motivation for choosing to focus on composition, rather than performance in his Bachelor degree.  

“I take composition just as seriously as piano, and I quite like the idea of alternating between the two as I move through the education system,” he said.

He chose to study at Melbourne because he particularly wanted to study with staff in the composition department, and to continue studying with Ann Morgan, with whom he had previously worked.

Mr de Jager said though he had not competed very much previously, the ideas behind this competition and its aesthetic goals appealed to him. 

“Most competitions are technically based, but for this competition, they wanted something more individual from the players, something more poetic, in the spirit of the romanticism of Chopin’s time,” he said. 

I felt I had insight into this idea, and I wanted to explore it more fully in my playing."

Mr de Jager said playing in Canberra had made him consider competing more widely, because as well as the obvious financial and career rewards [competition prizes are often worth thousands] there was “a nice atmosphere, which came from the creation of a temporary community of Chopin enthusiasts and musicians”.

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