The Chopin Foundation’s mission is twofold: to assist young, talented American pianists in their career development and in so doing, open doors to international careers; and to make classical music, especially the music of Frederic Chopin, accessible to everyone.
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 (“National Competition”) 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 National Competition every five years. The 10th edition of the National Competition 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 (“International Competition”). Since it began in 1927, the International Competition has been recognized as one of the most prestigious competitions in the world, with a long list of renowned winners. Mrs. Rosenstiel understood the need for a Chopin Competition in the US that prepares young American pianists to be able to compete in the international arena. The National Competition follows the same rules as the International Competition and is always scheduled earlier the same year. The International Chopin Competition automatically accepts the top winners of the National Competition, and the Chopin Foundation pays the expenses for finalists from the National Competition to compete in Poland, if accepted.
The National Competition is the Chopin Foundation’s flagship event, and it has had a big impact on the careers of many young American pianists. National Competition winners have accumulated prizes and distinctions not only at the International Competition in Warsaw, but at other major contests as well. VIEW the History of Nine National Competitions HERE.
1975: Dean Kramer wins the first NCPC and fifth prize in Warsaw
1990: Kevin Kenner wins National Competition second prize and International Competition top prize that same year
1990: Wendy Chen wins the National Competition and earns a national Young Concert Artists Award in 1991
1995: Gabriela Montero, a finalist at the National Competition, earns the Third Prize at the International Competition
1995: Jon Nakamatsu wins the National Competition and the First Prize at the International Cliburn Competition in 1997
2000: Ning An wins the National Competition and the top prize at the 2003 International William Kapell Competition
2005: Rachel Kudo wins second prize at the National Competition and is named the Gilmore Young Artist in 2008
2010: Andrew Tyson, a National Competition 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 at the National Competition, wins the fourth prize at the International Competition
2016: Henry Kramer (a 2010 National Competition finalist) and Alex Beyer (a 2015 finalist) win the second prize and third prize respectively at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.
2018: Claire Huangci the first prize winner of the 2010 National Competition wins the Concours Géza Anda; Rachel Kudo, the second prize winner of the 2005, 2010 and 2015 National Competitions, wins the Leipzig International Bach Competition; and Eric Lu wins the first prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition.
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 National Competitions 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 goal of developing 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 competitions. Currently there are regional councils in San Francisco, Seattle and Virginia. LEARN more about the Chopin Councils HERE.
In April 1984, representatives of fourteen Chopin organizations from various 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. 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.
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. READ Past Editions of the Polonaise HERE.
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 National Competition. Young artists are also discovered through programs offered by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), the American Pianists Association, and other competitions and festivals. In 1999, the series expanded to Fort Lauderdale in partnership with the Broward County Main Library. Since then, the series includes Young Pianists Concerts with selected students (17 years old or younger) who study with local South Florida music teachers. In 2010, Southern Wine & Spirits of America (now Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits) became the named sponsor of the Chopin for All free concerts. Their extraordinary generosity continues to this day. SEE the 2019-2020 Chopin for All Season HERE.
The Chopin Foundation started the Scholarship Program for Young American Pianists in 1998. In 20 years, scholarships have been awarded to 199 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 National Compeition. Half scholarships of $500 may also be awarded to help pianists continue to improve through the 4 year program. VIEW recent Scholarship Recipients HERE.
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 Salons 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.
In 2019, Barbara E. Muze, who had served the organization as Marketing/Development Manager, was appointed Executive Director after Jadwiga Gewert’s retirement.