Pianist brothers share 3rd place in Warsaw
On Oct. 22, anxious watchers around the country leapt from their seats when they heard that Lim Dong-min, 24, and Lim Dong-hyek, 20, had become the first Koreans to win a prize, albeit third place, at the 15th International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition, one of the world’s most prestigious music contests. The first place was taken by Rafal Blechacz from Poland; second place was left empty.
Countries as diverse as Poland, China, Japan, the United States, Russia and France fielded the 333 contestants, but only six were named the world’s best Chopin players.
“I worked very hard to prepare for this opportunity and I have no regrets about my performance,” Dong-min said after winning the prize.
“I think we did a meaningful thing for Koreans,” his brother added. “Though I think it was quite mischievous of (the judges) not to award us second place.”
Not that the two were underdogs; they’ve been winning competitions since the ages of 15 and 11, when they took first and second place in the Chopin Youth Piano Competition in Moscow.
That victory was only two years after their father had moved to Moscow on business, taking his family with him and enrolling his sons in the Moscow Conservatory.
At the final of the Chopin competition in Warsaw, Dong-hyek played Chopin’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in F Minor, and Dong-min played No. 1 In E Minor. As the competition was broadcasted live through the Internet, people here crowded around their computers to watch, though few were probably serious lovers of classical music. Korean fans stayed up all night, following the brothers’ ascendancy.
When it was announced that three Korean participants, two of whom were the Lim brothers, were selected as the 12 finalists, the Web sites of Korean classical music fans erupted with comments.
“Dong-hyek’s godly performance took my breath away,” ran a typical post. “How did he do that?”
The competition was not without its cliffhanger moments: at one point, Dong-hyek had to ask the conductor to halt the orchestra after having already played the first movement. A tuning instrument had been laid over the piano strings, slightly warping the sound. Some suspected sabotage.
The Lim parents were happy that this time, both sons could share the honors.
Dong-hyek has already made two albums produced by EMI Records, after winning the Long-Thibaud International Concours in France. His online cafe has over 35,000 members, and is the second-largest online fan club (opera singer Jo Su-mi’s is the largest).
Park Hyeon-ok, the boys’ mother, said Dong-min’s talent has been overlooked. “Dong-min and Dong-hyek have shown a lot of passion for the piano since childhood, and have voluntarily spent at least seven hours a day practicing,” she said.
by Choi Sun-young
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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