A young Toronto pianist won first place in the 18th Rotary International Piano Competition in Palma de Mallorca, Spain earlier this month.

Anastasia Rizikov, 12, was the youngest person to enter the competition’s top category, open to professional pianists, teachers and students age 28 and under.

When she was among three finalists in the last round, Rizikov said she was sure she would come in third place. "I didn’t expect to be first!"

During the third round, Rizikov played three pieces: Ludwig van Beethoven’s Variations in C minor, Enrique Granados’ Allegro de Concierto, and the jazzy Variations by Nikolai Kapustin, which left the audience cheering.

The preteen was accompanied by her grandmother, Maia Spis, who is also Rizikov’s teacher at the Nadia Music Academy. Rizikov wore a ruffled, red flamenco dress with a black vest specially designed in honour of the competition.

"My grandmother and I really didn’t come to this competition to win," Rizikov said. "We were going to compete with mature adult pianists with tons of experience and knowledge. I had just as much chance to win as everybody else."

According to a press release, competition judges said Rizikov plays with heart.

Rizikov won $3,600 Cdn. and will return to Spain for a solo recital tour and a performance with the Baleares Symphony Orchestra.

Previously, the young pianist placed first in the Toronto and Canadian Music Competitions and the American Protégé 2010 International Piano and Strings Competition.