Russian scoops prestigious Tchaikovsky piano award

Russian scoops prestigious Tchaikovsky piano award
French pianist Lucas Debargue performing during the XV Tchaikovsky international music competition in Moscow on June 21, 2015.

MOSCOW - Russian Dmitry Masleyev on Wednesday won first prize for the piano at the prestigious Tchaikovsky international music competition in Moscow.

Dubbed the "Olympic Games of music" by Russia's culture minister, the Tchaikovsky competition is held every four years in the Russian capital.

It is open to musicians from 16 to 30 years of age in the instrumental sections and singers between 19 and 32.

Masleyev, a graduate of the Moscow State Conservatory, beat Lukas Geniusas, representing Russia and Lithuania, and American George Li into joint second place.

"I am very emotional. I did not expect it, it is a big surprise," Masleyev, 27, told AFP after picking up the award. "This prize means everything for me. Anything can happen now."

Notable former winners include famed American pianist Van Cliburn who bagged the award at the height of the Cold War.

A $100,000 Grand Prize for the overall best musician in the competition is set to be awarded after a gala concert in Saint Petersburg on Friday.

This year's competition was dedicated to the 175th anniversary of the birth of the great Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

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