Korean pianist Yunchan Lim is youngest winner of Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

Yunchan Lim from Korea performs a Mozart Concerto with conductor Nicholas McGegan and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in the Semifinal round in the Sixteenth Cliburn International Piano Competition in Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, on

Korean pianist Yunchan Lim, 18, was crowned the winner of the 2022 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition on June 18 in Fort Worth, Texas — the youngest pianist ever to win the gold medal in the competition’s 60-year history.

Korean pianist Sunwoo Yekwon took the gold medal in the last competition held in 2017.

The silver medal this year went to Russian pianist Anna Geniushene, 31, and the bronze went to Ukrainian pianist Dmytro Ghoni, 28.

Lim’s gold medal was somewhat anticipated after he made his final performance, which received a large standing ovation. He played Beethoven’s Piano Concert No. 3 in C Minor, op. 37 and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concert No. 3 in D Minor, op. 30. Critics say it was the largest standing ovation at the Cliburn since Olga Kern after the performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concert No. 3 in 2001.

Lim received a cash prize of $100,000 and a three-year management contract by the competition organizing committee to hold U.S. and international concert tours and record a studio album. He also received the audience choice award and the jury discretion award for best performance of a new work.

“I am still a student, and I feel like I have to learn a lot still,” Lim said in a press conference following the award ceremony, adding that he’ll discuss with his teacher how to balance his new career and new career opportunities. “This is a great competition, and I feel the burden of receiving this great honor and award, so I will just push myself to live up to the honor I received today.”

Lim is currently studying at the Korea National University of Arts under Prof. Sohn Min-soo. His first international recognition was after winning the second prize and the Chopin Special Award at the Cleveland International Piano Competition for Young Artists in 2018. It was his first time competing.

Minister of Culture Sports and Tourism Park Bo-gyoon issued a congratulatory message on Sunday addressed to Lim.

“Korean people’s interest in classical music will be heightened thanks to you winning such a prestigious award,” Park said. “I really appreciate all the efforts of young artists who continue to challenge themselves in the global scene and bring back great results, contributing in spreading the charms of Korea and its culture.”

The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was first held in 1962 in Fort Worth to honor Van Cliburn, who won the first International Tchikovsky Competition in 1958. The competition is held every four years, on the same year as the U.S. presidential inauguration. The latest event was supposed to be held last year, but was postponed due to Covid-19.