Joaquín Achúcarro's early years

At the age of 13, Joaquín Achúcarro made his concert debut as the soloist in Mozart's D minor piano concerto with the orchestra of his hometown, Bilbao (Spain). Keeping piano as a side activity, he went through school and, following the scientific tradition in his family, entered University in Madrid to study physics. However, he soon decided to dedicate himself completely to his strongest vocation: music and piano.

In the following year he won the two most important Spanish prizes at the time (Premio de Virtuosismo and Premio Masaveu) and went to study at the famous Accademia Chigiana in Italy, where he was awarded the Premio dell'Accademia (to the best pupil of all musical disciplines) and subsequently the title of Accademico ad Honorem, specially created for him by Count Guido Chigi.

In rapid succession he was prize winner at the Concours International de Marguerite Long in Paris, the Geneve International Competition, the Viotti International Competition in Vercelli (Italy) and the Concorso Internazionale Busoni in Bolzano. Not feeling ready for a concert career yet, he continued his studies in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. His victory at the 1959 Liverpool International Competition led to his London debut with the London Symphony Orchestra, for which he was awarded the Harriet Cohen Medal for Best Debut of the Year.