Park Jae-hong (22) and Kim Do-hyun (27) ranked first and second in the 63rd Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition closed on Friday (local time) in Bolzano, Italy. Park also won four special prizes including the special prize for the best performance of a piece by Busoni, special prize for the best performance of chamber music, Alice Tartarotti Prize and Keyboard Career Development Prize. Kim won the special prize for the best performance of contemporary piano music. Austrian pianist Lukas Sternath won third place at the competition.
The Busoni Competition started in 1949 and had winners including Jörg Demus, Martha Argerich and Garrick Ohlsson. Moon Ji-young became the first Korean winner of the competition in 2015. After that, Seo Hye-gyeong (1980) and Lee Yoon-su (1997) both came in second without a first-place winner, Cho Hye-jeong (2001) and Won Jae-yeon (2017) won the second place, Son Min-su (1999), Lim Dong-min (2001) and Kim Hye-jin (2005) won the third place.
This year’s winner Park Jae-hong made a debut at the Kumho Prodigy Concert in 2014. He entered the school of music at the Korea National University of Arts as the top of the class after graduating the Seoul Arts High School. He is currently a senior in university.
“I wasn’t sure about the prize until the very last moment because all the participants were very talented,” Park said in a phone interview with The Dong-A Ilbo after receiving the prize. He said he worked hard for two years after being eliminated before entering the finals in 2019.
“The Busoni Competition assesses comprehensive capacity of pianists such as the ability to collaborate with an orchestra and play chamber music,” he said. Park said he had a hunch when he won the special prize for the best performance of chamber music by playing Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor.
Park picked Piano Concerto no. 3 of Rachmaninov for the final stage. It takes some 45 minutes to play the piece and requires deft skills. “I was immediately enchanted by the piece when I was an elementary school student,” he said. “I didn’t have to think much to select it because I have played with an orchestra before.”
Park is assessed to be well-built. “My height is 187 cm. I feel like it strengthens my presence on the stage,” he said. “I have big hands too, spanning 12 piano keys(do to higher fa).”
Kim is currently studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the U.S., where he went while studying at Seoul National University. He picked Piano Concerto No. 2 of Sergei Prokofiev for the final stage. “I tried to show my music rather than focusing on avoiding mistakes,” Kim said. “The result was good even though I made a lot of mistakes.”
Park earned the prize of 22,000 euros and an opportunity to play with the Schumann Piano Quartet on a tour in 2023 as a special prize for chamber music. Kim is to receive 10,000 euros.