Stanford Graduate Wins 1st Prize in Van Cliburn Piano Competition

<i> Associated Press</i>

Stanford University graduate Jon Nakamatsu, who was described as “everybody’s sentimental favorite,” was awarded the gold medal Sunday in the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Nakamatsu was probably the only contestant who did not attend a conservatory--or even major in music.

A crowd of about 3,000 applauded wildly at the announcement and gave the 28-year-old Sunnyvale, Calif., man a standing ovation as he joined Cliburn and other finalists onstage.

First prize in the quadrennial competition is $20,000 cash and scores of concert engagements, including a Carnegie Hall recital date. The total value of the prize is estimated at $250,000.


Yakov Kasman, 30, of Russia won the silver medal with its $15,000 cash prize. Aviram Reichert of Israel received the bronze medal and $10,000.

An award of $5,000 went to each of the other finalists: Filippo Gamba, 28, of Italy; Jan Gottlieb Jiracek, 28, of Germany; and Katia Skanavi, 25, of Russia.

Jury discretionary awards of $4,000 each went to three performers, including Stanislav Ioudenitch, 25, of Uzbekistan, the subject of the event’s hard-luck story. A burn he received while making tea at the home of his host family kept him from playing.