Maj Lind Piano Competition 1992: The first prize was divided between Laura Mikkola (on the right) and Valeria Resjan.

The Maj Lind gradually becomes international in the 1990s


The initial step towards making the Maj Lind an international competition were taken in 1992 when, for the first time, it was made open to foreigners studying in Finland. The new amendment to the rules was a source of great joy to Valeria Resjan and Gergely Bogányi, because it meant they could now take part.

1990 & 1991

No competition was held in 1990 or 1991.


The 25th Maj Lind Piano Competition was held on January 28–February 7, 1992. The standard was praised in the press as being the highest ever, and there was a record number – 47 – of competitors.

The first prize was divided between Laura Mikkola and Valeria Resjan. Janne Mertanen came second and Henri Sigfridsson second, Gergely Bogányi third and Ursula von Lerber fourth.

The Jury consisted of Rector Erkki Rautio (Chairman) and pianists Halina Czerny-Stefánska, José Ribera, Folke Gräsbeck, Leea Isotalo, Risto Lauriala and Ilkka Paananen.

The whole competition was held in the Sibelius Academy Concert Hall and the Tapiola Sinfonietta was conducted in the finals by Ari Rasilainen.

Laura Mikkola (b. 1974) was 18 when she took part in the competition. Four years earlier, she had won the Ravel Competition in France, and in 1995 she would go on to win the second prize in the Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition in Brussels. She studied with Meri Louhos, Tapani Valsta and Dmitri Bashkirov, and in Paris with Bernard Ringeissen. At the time of the competition she was studying in Philadelphia. Her discography includes the complete solo piano works by Einojuhani Rautavaara. Though nowadays permanently resident in Paris, she still has a special home base in Iitti in Southern Finland, where her grandfather directed the music in the local church and she is Artistic Director of the Iitti Music Festival.

Valeria Resjan (b. 1971, Ukraine) was 21 when she took part in the competition. She had moved from the Soviet Union to Finland two years before. While waiting offstage to perform, she was greatly surprised and delighted to hear the hall announcement in Russian. Her teacher at the Sibelius Academy was Hamsa Al-Wadi Juris. She studied chamber music with Ralf Gothóni and in 1996–1997 in Madrid with Dmitri Bashkirov. Further success awaited her with victory in the international Pilar Bayona Competition in Zaragoza, Spain and prizes in the Montreal Piano Competition in 1996. Valeria Resjan teaches at the Sibelius Academy.


No competition was held in 1993.


The 26th Maj Lind Piano Competition was held on November 22–December 3, 1994.

The winner was Paavali Jumppanen; the second prize was divided between Victor Chestopal and Anastasia Injushina. Antti Hotti came third, and there were 46 competitors. Paavali Jumppanen said he had an absolute craze for practising at around the time of the competition and did nothing else round the clock and even more so on the days of the finals. All he could think about was the piano and playing. He had no idea what the media were saying and never gave a thought for his chances. Getting through to the next round each time came as a surprise.

The Jury consisted of Ulf Söderblom (Chairman) and Boris Berman, Ilmo Ranta, Bernard Ringeissen, Arto Satukangas and Marketta Valve.

Paavali Jumppanen (b. 1974) was 20 when he won the competition. Six years later, he won the Young Concert Artists’ International Auditions in New York. From the Sibelius Academy he proceeded to Basel to study with Krystian Zimerman, and he is now a freelance artist. He travels the world giving concerts and recording, and his travels this year take him to France, Australia and the United States. He is Artistic Director of the PianoEspoo festival and the recently-launched Väylä Festival, a multi-arts event in Finnish and Swedish Lapland.

This autumn, the winner of the 1993 Maj Lind Piano Competition is inviting the winner of the 2017 competition to give a recital at his PianoEspoo Festival.

1995 & 1996

No competition was held in 1990 or 1991.


The 27th Maj Lind Piano Competition was held on November 24–December 5, 1997.

The winner was Joonas Pohjonen; Tiina Karakorpi came second, and the third prize was shared by Jerry Jantunen and Antti Kaihola. The prizes totalled 40,000 marks (nowadays equivalent to about €9,000).

There were 43 competitors, and the competition was open to Finns or pianists who had been living in Finland for at least three years. The age range was 15–30.

The first rounds were held in the Sibelius Academy Concert Hall and the finals at the Helsinki Hall of Culture, when the Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Atso Almila.

The Chairman of the Jury was Juhani Raiskinen, Director of the Finnish National Opera, and the members were Liv Glaser, Kirsti Huttunen, Meri Louhos, Regina Smendzianka, Kari Tikkala and conductor Ari Angervo.

Joonas Pohjonen (b. 1973) was 24 when he won the Maj Lind Piano Competition. He had studied at the Sibelius Academy with Meri Louhos and Erik T. Tawaststjerna and nowadays teaches the piano and accompaniment at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and is an accompanist at the Sibelius Academy. He makes frequent concert appearances, especially in chamber repertoire. His composition Bagatelles was one of the commissioned works for the 2007 Maj Lind Competition.

1998 & 1999

No competition was held in 1998 or 1999.

Text: Katri Maasalo