Rafal Blechacz won the Gilmore Prize, a prestigious award for pianists, in 2014.

(Photo: Felix Broede)
You cannot apply for it.  You cannot lobby for it.

But the Gilmore Artist Award  is one of the most coveted awards a pianist can win. 

It’s only given out once every four years and with it comes $300,000. 

The judges conduct all their work in secret. Pianists don’t even know they’re being auditioned for the prize. They never know when a Gilmore judge is in the audience, or if what seems like a casual conversation with a conductor is actually an interview for the prize.

And Wednesday we learned who the latest Gilmore prize winner is:  Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz.

The New York Times has more:

With the award, Mr. Blechacz, 28, will join an elite and varied group of recipients, who include Kirill Gerstein, Ingrid Fliter, Piotr Anderszewski and Leif Ove Andsnes. He will receive $50,000 in cash, and $250,000 will be made available to help him foster his career. (Past recipients have used that money to buy better pianos, commission new music, subsidize recordings and take sabbaticals to learn new repertoire.)

Mr. Blechacz (pronounced BLEH-hatch) rose to fame in 2005 when, at 20, he became the first Polish pianist in three decades to win the International Chopin Piano Competition

The pianist's recorded output include numerous Chopin pieces as well as interpretations of Haydn, Beethoven and Debussy.

Watch the performance Blechacz gave at the winner's recital for the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2005:

Rafal Blechacz performing at the winner's recital for the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2005.