Halina Czerny-Stefanska, 78, one of Poland's leading pianists, died Sunday in the southern Poland city of Krakow, local media reported.
Best known for her emotional interpretation of romantic works, especially those of Polish composer Frederic Chopin, she began her climb to prominence in 1949 by winning first prize at the prestigious Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw.
She worked with the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra and with some of the world's leading conductors--including Georg Solti, Zubin Mehta and Adrian Boult--and often served on the jury of the Chopin Competition.
"She played very emotionally. She showed that it's possible to interpret classical music in a lively, emotional way," Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski, an expert on the 19th-century Polish composer Chopin, told the Polish news agency PAP.
As a professor of musicology at the Krakow Conservatory, she taught several generations of aspiring young pianists.