WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish cultural authorities said Monday that they have decided to put off the 18th edition of the Frederic Chopin international piano competition by a full year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new date for the competition was set for Oct. 2-23, 2021. Originally it had been scheduled for Oct. 2-23 this year.

The organizers said the list of contestants will remain unchanged for the event next year in Warsaw.

Culture Minister Piotr Glinski said the decision was dictated by the probability that gatherings with large audiences will still be banned this fall, amid anti-COVID-19 social distancing.

“I think we all agree that, although possible from the technical point of view, the competition without an audience would not make much sense,” Glinski said.

On top of a gold medal and a prize of 40,000 euros ($45,000), the winner secures prestigious recording and concert contracts. Among past winners are Argentina’s Martha Argerich, Italy’s Maurizio Pollini, Garrick Ohlsson from the U.S. and Poland’s Krystian Zimerman.


The competition also draws international crowds to Warsaw’s National Philharmonic. Tickets bought for the event remain valid for 2021.

The first competition was held in 1927. There was a postponement from 1937-49, due to World War II. It has been held every five years since 1955.

Poland’s best loved composer and pianist, Chopin was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw to a Polish mother and a French father. He left Poland at 19 to travel to Vienna and then Paris, where he settled, composing, giving concerts and teaching piano. He died in Paris in 1849 and is buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery. His heart is at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.

More details about the change of dates are to be announced May 14.