National

Japanese pianists win top and second prizes in Paris contest

JIJI

Japanese artists won the first and second prizes in the piano category of the Long-Thibaud-Crespin international classical music competition in Paris on Saturday.

“Winning the competition was beyond expectations,” said Kenji Miura, 26, who captured the First Grand Prix.

“I’m glad that my hard work has been recognized,” he said after the prize ceremony. “First, I want to tell the news to my fiancee. I will work harder and take on new challenges.”

Miura, who is from Kobe, is currently studying at Hanns Eisler Musik Hochschule, a music university in Berlin.

He started to play the piano at the age of 4 “on his own will,” even though nobody in his family was particularly interested in music.

Keigo Mukawa, 26, won the Second Grand Prix.

“I’m fully satisfied with the second prize,” said Mukawa, a native of Tokai, Aichi Prefecture, who started playing the piano at age 3. “I’m now really happy because I had dreamed of playing (in the competition) as a finalist.”

He now studies at Conservatoire de Paris.

The Long-Thibaud-Crespin competition, known as a gateway for young artists to success, started in Paris in 1943 during World War II, when the French capital was under German occupation.

It has three categories — piano, violin and singing. Many Japanese artists have won prizes in the contest. Miura is the sixth Japanese to win the top piano prize and the first since Hibiki Tamura achieved the feat in 2007.