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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Winners of 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition were announced last night in Fort Worth, Texas. Bill Zeeble with member station KERA reports the winner of the top prize was a 26-year-old Ukrainian.

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BILL ZEEBLE, BYLINE: Vadym Kholodenko was more than happy to win the top prize of $50,000, but he said the rankings don't mean that much.

VADYM KHOLODENKO: It's kind of fun for audience, but for, like, the for press or something. It's very interesting to put, like, first, second, 10th and so on. But in life, not so important.

ZEEBLE: And he says so much of life involves competing no matter what you're doing.

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ZEEBLE: Kholodenko and the other two winners said the competition was hard. Famed composer Bela Bartok once said sarcastically: Competitions are for horses. But 20-year-old silver medalist Beatrice Rana of Italy doesn't feel like a horse.

BEATRICE RANA: Competitions are one of the main ways for us to have a concert pianist career. Competitions can be really for everybody and is accessible to everybody. I don't compete very often but I'm glad that this year we have the opportunity to really play many times after the winning of the Cliburn.

ZEEBLE: She's referring to what many winners consider the real prize of the Cliburn competition: three years of management and bookings. Winning usually also means no more competitions. That's something Sean Chen, third place finisher from Oak Park, California was also happy about.

SEAN CHEN: This experience has been really awesome but kind of the most stressful thing I've ever done in my life.

(LAUGHTER)

CHEN: You know, it's just the nature of the beast. And I would be happy to not have to go through it again.

ZEEBLE: But now the pressure of life and career begins. For NPR News, I'm Bill Zeeble in Dallas.

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WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.

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