American Jon Nakamatsu, described as “everybody’s sentimental favorite,” won the gold medal Sunday in the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
A graduate of Stanford University, the Sunnyvale, Calif., resident was probably the only contestant who didn’t go to a conservatory or even major in music. He majored in German and secondary education and teaches German at a high school in San Jose.
A crowd of some 3,000 applauded wildly and gave Nakamatsu, 28, a standing ovation as he joined Cliburn and other finalists on the stage. He was the only American among the six finalists.
“I was quite overwhelmed to be in the finals and then to be a winner is beyond belief,” Nakamatsu said.
Yakov Kasman, 30, of Russia, captured the silver medal and the second-place prize of $15,000.
Aviram Reichert of Israel took the bronze medal, worth $10,000.
First prize in the quadrennial competition is $20,000.