Chairman of the jury
Arie Van Lysebeth
Belgium, °1938
Arie Van Lysebeth was the President of the Jury of the Queen Elisabeth Competition from 1996 to 2018. He took up the violin at the age of four. He completed his higher education at the Brussels Conservatory in music theory, bassoon, chamber music, and orchestral conducting. Following a competition, he was appointed bassoon soloist of the Belgian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra. Two years later, he came joint first in the Prague International Bassoon Contest. He also studied conducting under Bruno Maderna in Salzburg and under Pierre Boulez in Switzerland. Starting in 1970, he conducted the Flemish Chamber Orchestra, both in Belgium and abroad. As a guest conductor, he has appeared with the major Belgian orchestras as well as with symphony orchestras in the United States of America, Argentina, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany. He has performed with many famous soloists, including Igor Oistrakh, José Van Dam, Murray Perahia, and Augustin Dumay. From 1995 to 2004 he was the regular conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of the Brussels Conservatory, where he taught chamber music for many years (1970-1994) and served as director (1994-2003). From 2004 to 2014, he was the artistic director of the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel.
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Abdel Rahman El Bacha
Lebanon, France, °1958
Born in Beirut in 1958, Abdel Rahman El Bacha lives in France. At the age of 16 he pursued his piano studies under Pierre Sancan at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris, where he obtained four first prizes (for piano, chamber music, harmony, and counterpoint). Since his talent was discovered at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 1978, he has performed in the most prestigious concert halls around the world. He has played with a variety of orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Orchestre de Paris, the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo, and the English Chamber Orchestra. His first disc, devoted to the works of Prokofiev, received the Grand Prize of the Charles Cros Academy. Since then he has recorded many works (including Bach, Ravel, Schubert, and Schumann) with Forlane, as well as Prokofiev’s five concertos with Fuga Libera. His complete Beethoven sonatas and complete works for solo piano by Chopin have been a great success, both in concert and on CD. Abdel Rahman El Bacha is also a composer and is master in residence for the piano at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel.
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Ts'Ong Fou
- 2020
Born in Shanghai in 1934, Fou Ts’ong began his studies in China and later studied under Zbigniew Drzewiecki in Warsaw. He was awarded the special Mazurka prize at the 1953 Chopin Competition, which resulted in many performances in Eastern Europe. In 1959 he was invited to perform under Carlo Maria Giulini at the Royal Albert Hall and since then has made London his home. Recognised by his peers, the public, and the critics alike, Fou Ts’ong has given many concerts all over the world. His recordings on the Meridian label include works by Scarlatti, Handel, Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, and Debussy. This year he has made a recording of Haydn’s sonatas. He teaches at the Lake Como International Piano Academy and the Shanghai Conservatory and has given master classes at many musical institutions and festivals. This year he is serving as a member of the jury of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw.
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Valentin Gheorghiu
Born in Romania, Valentin Gheorghiu started learning the piano at the age of four and was admitted to the Bucharest Royal Academy of Music at the age of seven. From 1937 to 1939, thanks to a recommendation by George Enescu, he continued his piano and harmony studies at the National Conservatory in Paris. His debut with an orchestra came at the age of 15 with the Bucharest Philharmonic. He has since performed throughout Europe and in North America, Israel, and Japan, with prestigious orchestras such as the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Orchestre de Paris, and the orchestras of Chicago, Tokyo, Osaka, Geneva, and Prague, among others, under conductors such as Seiji Osawa, Simon Rattle, Kurt Masur, and Rafael Kubelik. Valentin Gheorghiu has served on the juries of more than 60 international competitions. He has received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Music in Bucharest and has been awarded the George Enescu Prize for his compositions and the Romanian Academy Prize for his career as a whole, as well as the Award for Excellence in Romanian Culture.
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David Lively
United States of America, France, °1953
David Lively won Fourth Prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 1972. On the advice of Jules Gentil, assistant to Alfred Cortot, he moved to Paris from the United States and became the favoured pupil of Claudio Arrau, going on to further studies with Nadia Boulanger, Wilhelm Kempf, and Erich Leinsdorf. He has had a strikingly distinctive career. He has been a bold advocate of rarely-heard repertoire and his virtuosity has enabled him to record the concertos of Joseph Marx, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Ferruccio Busoni, and Sergey Rachmaninov. He has a special affinity with Aaron Copland, Eliott Carter, Henri Dutilleux, Philippe Boesmans, and Benoît Mernier and is very interested in contemporary works. Indefatigably curious, David Lively is equally passionate about historic keyboard instruments and today’s synthesisers. A professor and director of examinations at the École Normale de Musique in Paris, he is also the artistic director of the Festival of Saint-Lizier in the Pyrenees. His recent recordings include the complete chamber works of César Franck and the complete solo works of Philippe Boesmans. A recording of William Blank’s piano concerto, which was written for him, will be released shortly and one of Benoît Mernier’s is planned.
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Minoru Nojima
The Japanese pianist Nojima Minoru made his concert debut with the NHK Symphony Orchestra at the age of ten. He later attended the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo. In 1966, he was invited to the Moscow Conservatory of Music by the Soviet Cultural Affairs Agency to study under the renowned pianist Lev Oborin. During this time he gave recitals in various cities, including Moscow and Leningrad. In 1969, he won second prize at the third Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The following year, he earned effusive praise from the New York Times for his debut recital at Carnegie Hall. Since then, he has performed with major orchestras and given recitals and chamber music performances throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Nojima Minoru has served several times as an adjudicator for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and has been a chairperson for the Sendai International Music Competition from the start. In 2006, the Minoru Nojima Yokosuka Piano Competition was established for gifted young Japanese pianists. He currently serves as president of the Tokyo College of Music and is professor of piano at the Toho Gakuen School of Music.
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Cécile Ousset
France, °1936
Born in Tarbes, France, Cécile Ousset studied under Marcel Ciampi at the Paris Conservatoire, where she won the First Piano Prize at the age of 14. She was a prize-winner at several major international piano competitions, including the Van Cliburn, Queen Elisabeth, Long-Thibaud, and Ferruccio Busoni competitions, before undertaking an international performing career that has taken her to all five continents. She has recorded a vast repertoire, including concertos by Johannes Brahms, Edvard Grieg, Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Piotr Tchaikovsky, Sergey Rachmaninov, Sergey Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel, and Francis Poulenc, under conductors such as Kurt Masur, Simon Rattle, Günther Herbig, and Neville Marriner. Cécile Ousset gives master classes in the USA, Canada, Europe (including at Puycelsi, France, since 1984), Australia, and the Far East. She frequently serves as a jury member at major competitions such as the Van Cliburn, Rubinstein, Leeds, and Long-Thibaud. In 2011, she was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.
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Menahem Pressler
The career of Menahem Pressler has spanned more than five decades. Born in Magdeburg, he studied the piano in Israel and won the Debussy Competition in San Francisco in 1946. Since then, he has performed as a soloist, notably with the symphony orchestras of New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, and London, and in chamber music with the Trio Pasquier and the Juilliard, Emerson, Guarneri, and Cleveland quartets. In 1955 he founded the Beaux-Arts Trio, which was awarded the Concertgebouw Prize in 2006. For over 50 years he taught at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he was given the title of distinguished professor. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the North Carolina School of the Arts. His artistic talents have also been recognised by a number of awards, including Chamber Music America’s Distinguished Service Award (1994), the Gramophone magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award (1998), and the ‘Ehrenurkunde’ awarded by German critics, as well as by his nomination to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2009 he was made a citizen of honour of his native city. In addition to his many CDs with the Beaux-Arts Trio, his discography includes some thirty solo recordings of works ranging from Bach to Ben-Haim.
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Anne Queffélec
After finishing her studies at the Paris Conservatoire, Anne Queffélec went on to study in Vienna with Paul Badura-Skoda, Jörg Demus, and Alfred Brendel. Her successes in the Munich (1968) and Leeds (1969) international competitions paved the way for a remarkable international career as a soloist. Acclaimed in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, and the United States, she has had the opportunity to perform with great conductors and with prestigious orchestras such as the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Tonhalle Zurich, the Polish Chamber Orchestra, the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Kanazawa Ensemble, the Tokyo NHK Symphony Orchestra, and the orchestras of Radio France and Prague. She is a regular guest at renowned festivals worldwide and in France. At La Roque d’Anthéron she performed Mozart’s complete sonatas, broadcast live on France Musique. Under the baton of Sir Neville Mariner she has recorded music for the movie Amadeus. On stage as well as in the recording studio, Anne Queffélec cultivates an eclectic repertoire, ranging from Handel to Dutilleux. She has made more than thirty recordings, for Erato ("Ravel, Debussy, Fauré”), Virgin Classics or Mirare ("Satie & Compagnie”, " Ombre et Lumière").
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Peter Rösel
Germany
Peter Rösel studied at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, first with Dmitri Bashkirov and later with Lev Oborin. He has won prizes at several major competitions, including the International Schumann Competition in 1963, the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, and the Montreal International Competition in 1968. He has played in over 40 countries all over the world, with orchestras such as the Berlin, New York, and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Detroit, Minnesota, Toronto and Montreal Symphony Orchestras, the BBC Orchestras, and the Dresden Staatskapelle, under Herbert Blomstedt, Charles Dutoit, Bernard Haitink, Günther Herbig, Dmitri Kitajenko, Kurt Sanderling, and Yuri Temirkanov, among others. His appearances at the BBC Proms in London and at international festivals in Berlin, Edinburgh, Perth, and Salzburg, as well as at the Hollywood Bowl and in Hong Kong, have been enthusiastically received by both audiences and critics. Since 1970 Peter Rösel has worked closely with Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and has given over 200 concerts with them. His discography includes many recordings for EMI, Capriccio, Ars Vivendi, Berlin Classics, and King Records. He has performed and recorded the complete Beethoven sonatas and concertos in Tokyo.
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Staffan Scheja
Staffan Scheja made his debut at fourteen with Herbert Blomstedt and the Swedish Radio Orchestra. After studying at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm he was accepted into the Juilliard School in New York, where he studied with Rosina Lhevinne, Ilona Kabos, and Ania Dorfmann. Since winning top prize in the Busoni International Competition in 1975 he has given concerts all over the world with conductors such as Simon Rattle, David Zinman, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sixten Ehrling, and Okko Kamu, with orchestras such as the Munich Philharmonic, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the NHK Tokyo, the English Chamber Orchestra, and all the major Scandinavian orchestras. He spent a number of years living in the United States, where he played in Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center with the Oslo Philharmonic and at the White House with Barbara Hendricks. He has made numerous recordings with EMI, BIS, Vanguard, and LCM and has represented his country during state visits to Mexico and Japan. He is the founder and artistic director of the Gotland Chamber Music festival on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. He has been awarded Sweden’s Litteris et Artibus royal medal. He now lives in Stockholm, where he is a professor and head of the piano department at the Royal College of Music. He is a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Music.
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Tamas Vasary
Hungary (Republic), °1933
The Hungarian pianist and conductor Tamás Vásáry gave his first public performances at the age of eight. He studied with Ernst von Dohnányi and Józef Gát at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest and later served as assistant to Zoltán Kodály. He won first prize in the Franz Liszt Competition in Budapest in 1948 and was also a laureate of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw (1955), the Long-Thibaud Competition in Paris (1955), the Queen Elisabeth Competition (1956), and the Rio de Janeiro Competition (1957). His international career took off after 1960, in the wake of his immensely successful debut in the Royal Festival Hall in London. He has performed with the world’s leading orchestras and most eminent conductors. He has made twenty recordings, mostly for Deutsche Grammophon. He has conducted over 100 orchestras. In England he was music director of the Northern Sinfonia (1979-1982) and principal conductor of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta (1989-1997). He was music director of the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1993 to 2004. Tamás Vásáry has been awarded many prizes and distinctions, including the Bach and Paderewsky medals, the Kossuth Prize, the Millennial Kölcsey Prize, the Gold Medal of the President of the Republic of Hungary, and the Hungarian Heritage Prize. In 2012 he received UNESCO’s Mozart Medal. He is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music and of the Royal College of Music in London and is also a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (France).
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Elisso Virsaladze
Georgia, °1942
Elisso Virsaladze attended the conservatory in her native city, Tbilisi (Georgia), before moving to Moscow. At the age of 20 she won the Third Prize in the Tchaikovsky Competition and four years later the First Prize at the Schumann Competition in Zwickau. Ever since, she has been recognised as one of the great interpreters of Schumann. Her heart also goes out to the composers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, especially Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin. At the same time, the pianist is well known for her wide repertoire up to and including modern Russian composers. Elisso Virsaladze today regularly performs in London, Milan, Rome, Paris, Lisbon, Baltimore, Tokyo and Berlin, both with orchestra and in recital. She regularly performs under renowned conductors such as Rudolf Barschai, Kyril Kondraschin, Mariss Jansons, Ricardo Muti, Kurt Sanderling, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Evgeny Svetlanov and Juri Temirkanov. She teaches at the Moscow Conservatory and at the Munich Musikhochschule and frequently serves as a member of the jury of international competitions, including those in Santander and Munich, the Geza Anda in Zurich, the Rubinstein in Tel Aviv, and the Tchaikovsky in Moscow. Her recordings on the Live Classics label perfectly convey her musical personality.

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Boyan Vodenitcharov
Bulgaria (Republic), °1960
Born in 1960, Boyan Vodenitcharov entered the Conservatory in Sofia in 1979, having already been a prizewinner at the Senigallia international competition. He went on to come third in the Busoni Competition in 1981 and in the 1983 Queen Elisabeth Competition. He undertook further studies with Leon Fleischer at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore in 1986 and 1987. He gives concerts throughout Europe, the United States, Canada, and Japan, performing at prestigious concert halls such as the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Palais de la Musique in Strasbourg, the Smetana Hall in Prague, and the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. For 20 years now, he has also taken an interest in period instruments, on which he has recorded a number of CDs. In addition to his activities as a performer, Boyan Vodenitcharov also works in the fields of composition and improvisation. A number of his works have been performed in France, Germany, Belgium, and Bulgaria. He currently teaches the piano, the fortepiano, and improvisation at the Brussels Royal Conservatory.
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