Léonie Sonning Talent Prize 2018

Gustav Piekut

I pursue development as a human, not a specific performance

There is no doubt about Gustav’s idol among composers; if you meet Gustav at a concert, a dip into his pocket will reveal who. Gustav - usually - carries with him a small bust of his idol: Beethoven: Also, when Gustav won a 2nd place and three honorary prizes in Aarhus International Piano Competition where he played Beethoven’s fifth piano concerto. Although Gustav has performed well in many international competitions, this is not what makes him happy.

In principle, music competitions are rather stupid, which is a paradox as they may be very important for your personal development, says Gustav Piekut, and explains that, even though competitions have helped him because he has had to learn a comprehensive repertoire and has been able to play for a large audience and maybe win some money, it is silly to compete about classical music, in Gustav’s opinion.

But it is impossible to quantify. The evaluation will always be subjective and the important aspect is your attitude when entering a competition. I wish we were living in a world where competitions were not necessary, but they are here, and I try to use them constructively, says Gustav Piekut, who is 22 and studies in Berlin.

Gustav does not believe that one’s fortune is made by realising a dream about standing on a certain stage or winning a certain competition. To him, the dream is about something which is much closer to himself.

My dream is to continue developing and widening my horizon, both as a human and musically - the very performance, to play a major concert or to win is less important, says Gustav, who has learned that the dream about achieving a specific goal cannot be realised in a way that satisfies him.

Once you realise your dream, you get a new goal. Therefore, I don’t believe that you will reach a point at some level where you are satisfied with everything - this is a somewhat unrealistic idea.

He also believes that it takes luck to succeed with your performance.

You will always be nervous when performing at an important concert. You have to accept that and work on your nervousness. I focus on the fact that I have practised; that I know my job. And then there is the last 10 per cent, which is about ‘leaping into the dark’. I guess that’s what you call luck. No matter how well-prepared you are, you’re not certain to succeed. You have to trust that luck is with you. When there’s something you want, you will either succeed or not. That’s it!, says Gustav.

Gustav Piekut in brief

Born in Ålborg 1995 and raised in Kolding. Gustav Piekut has played the piano since he was six years’ old. At age 12, he debuted with the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra; at age 14, he gave his first solo concerts in Denmark. Since then, he has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, etc. In 2017, he won the second place in the main competition at Aarhus International Piano Competition and was awarded the Audience Prize, the Carl Nielsen Prize and a special prize from the European Union of Music Competitions for Youth, EMCY, for his outstanding performance.

Gustav Piekut studies at Universität der Künste in Berlin.

How Gustav will use the scholarship from the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation

Gustav will use the scholarship from the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation on a study strip to the USA and lessons with pianist Kevin Kenner and participation in international music competitions. In addition, part of the scholarship will be spent on a practice instrument for his apartment in Berlin.