South Korea’s Yunchan Lim made history after becoming the youngest pianist to win the world-renowned Van Cliburn International Piano Competition over the weekend.
Named after the famed pianist, the competition is held quadrennially in Fort Worth, Texas, attracting many of the world’s most talented young pianists as it supports rising artists and brings their performances to the masses.
In the 16th iteration of the competition, Lim was one of 30 competitors selected from a pool of 388 applicants to compete in a series of live rounds.
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While Lim performed an expansive repertoire of works throughout the competition, from concertos by Beethoven and Mozart to Lizst’s “Transcendental Etudes,” his most groundbreaking performance was a riveting rendition of Rachmaninov’s “Piano Concerto No. 3,” which moved the piece’s legendary conductor Marin Alsop to tears. “What a joy to be part of this inspiring and compelling performance. Yunchan is that rare artist who brings profound musicality and prodigious technique organically together,” Alsop told Classical FM. “The fact that he is only 18 years old is truly awe-inspiring and gives me great hope for the future.”
As the winner of this year’s competition, Lim received a cash prize of $100,000, three years of individualized career management, a Steinway Recording Prize Studio Album and performance attire provided by Neiman Marcus, among others.
Despite distinguishing himself as one of the brightest young luminaries in the classical world, Lim was humbled by the experience, perceiving the award as a standard to continue working toward.
“I am still a student,” Lim told Fort Worth Magazine. “I feel like I learn a lot still. It’s a great competition and I feel the burden of receiving this great and honorable award. I will push myself to measure myself up to the honor I received today.”