Shock and dismay as international violin competition suspends finals videos

Shock and dismay as international violin competition suspends finals videos


norman lebrecht

November 06, 2013

More horrors from the dubious world of musical contests.

Last week in the Ukraine they held the first Oleh Krysa International Violin Competition. Krysa (below) is described as ‘an international violinist’. A new event with a 20,000 Euros first prize it drew talent from major conservatories around the world.


Reports from an insider say the strongest competitors were eliminated in the opening round. Two winners were announced at the weekend. Both, believe it or not, are students of Oleh Krysa, founder of the competition and chairman of the jury.

After an outcry, the videos of the final round were taken down on Youtube and a row continues over the prizes.

A Russian violinist, Oleg Kurochkin, vented his outrage on The Violin Channel: ‘What a shame!1st prize of Krysa competition divided between students of chairman of jury,actually Krysa. Listen to their caprices on the 1st round.They should not pass even to semifinal! And they did not play a obligatory piece by heart as written in rules of competition.’

Moral of the story: beware talent contests.



  • I have three times been on the jury of a violin competition organised by Marat Bisengaliev in Kazakhstan. From the start Marat has had a rule that students of jury members are not allowed to enter the competition. It’s an obvious and sensible precaution, and one that other competitions ought to adopt.

  • “Krysa” simply means “rat” in English.

  • rdamerell says:

    Did the students selected for the competition also have to pay to participate?

  • Floydrharper says:

    I don’t like competitions. I think serious musicians eschew them

  • Mark Stratford says:

    The classic has to be Michael Roll who in the very first Leeds Internationl Piano Competition came first. And he was not only a pupl of the founder Fanny Waterman but came from…err… Leeds !

    • Henrik Wenzel Andreasen says:

      And by the way a fantastic pianist! Listen to his Beethoven 1+5 with LPO. Or, as I have heard several times live, his Grieg Concerto. Magic touch and outstanding musicianship!

  • Krysa means Rat for sure in Russian. So it depends whether the family used Russian (as did many people there in 1942) or Ukranian.

  • If anyone is interested, there are videos of some of the participants on YouTube, such as:

    (The right hand side of the screen leads to many more)

  • Rafael Nadal says:

    This happens all the time I am afraid. Many of the winners are not students of the members of the jury, but their former students. It makes me sick. Such talented people cannot pass first round and never will because of such mafia aproach.

  • Mark says:

    Haha, and if you think it happens away from major musical centres and without major international artists being involved:

    The last edition of the supposedly respectable Wieniawski Competition in Poland had Vengerov as its chairman. The good thing was that Vengerov personally went to several places around the world to listen to auditions of all the participants. But then something strange happened. People who were rejected were offered to have masterclasses with Vengerov (1000 EUR each) and were promised that if they participate they may have another chance to be considered to be accepted. Strange things happened also in the competition itself, where the rules were being changed during its running and Vengerov’s teacher Zakhar Bron, who was also in the jury, would only get excited when his students were playing and look ostensibly bored when other violinists performed. Interestingly enough – all finalists were pupils of the members of the jury (four of them from Bron).

    • I mentioned Marat Bisengaliev’s violin competition in Kazakhstan. The venue was Uralsk, whose most famous musical son is Zakhar Bron — whose conspicuous absence from the jury points to his reputation for partiality.

  • Dario says:

    I’m a teacher and, when a pupil of my classroom have exams, I HAVE to stand up and leave the jury….!! Why not so, here…??

  • Stephen says:

    Competitive music is on a par with competitive fishing, or competitive cooking. None of these activities should have the word “competition” linked with them.

    • Alan Penner says:

      My sentiments exactly. It’s the main reason why Woody Allen doesn’t take part in awards programs, saying “Art isn’t a competition.”

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    I have learned that the country is referred to as “Ukraine” not “the Ukraine”.

  • GGV says:

    “Competitions are for horses, not for musicians” – Bela Bartok

  • Stereo says:

    Sounds like the first few Leeds piano comps. Fanny Waterman show hence Michael Roll winning.

  • Sahatci says:

    It is a big business ….

  • timwalton3 says:

    Kogan might have been a marvellous player, but he was also a KGB Stooge. Everything he heard & saw from his colleagues was reported back. When Rostropovich found out he refused to ever speak to or play with him again.

    There are ‘Rats’ all over the place including one prominent ‘Rat’ who is President of Russia. Oh Well you get what you vote for I suppose.

  • violinist says:

    So are we to believe that in usa and other countries in the world competitions do not exist?? And not cultivated? To succeed “to be first” mentality of win is shockingly active in any place as well starting with kids auditions to school play or band to prof orchestras etc. The statement that ONE country “turned” music into sport is superficial and inaccurate. And not KNOWING person/musician personally and insult him with names like “dinosaur” is simply gross.

  • dnry122 says:

    From the world of American Country and Western music, I believe it was the late Waylon Jennings who said, “Music is not a competitive sport”.

  • Alex says:

    Last Queen Elizabeth violin Competition. Winner is a student of a member of the jury. Any comments?

  • Anita says:

    It happens all over the world in all major competition. I have played many of them and it always happen that if you are strong, you will be most likely out of first round.The second round made for those who are agreed to do masterclasses or else with jury members, The more you invest into the competition, meaning going to masterclasses,studying indirectly with a jury memeber…Everything counts for the success. The competitions are subjective regardless… Someone likes fast and loud, someone likes authentic Bach, someone just doesnt like the person on stage! What can one do? So,this competition case its not the only case.

    But funny that nowdays everyone focuses on Russia and Ukraine, should it be just politcs against those countries? How come so many scandals they have when they started to have “opposition in Russia”, “Ukraine in EU” . Why are we not talking about human rights in western democratic countries?

  • m2n2k says:

    Unless and until I see and hear concrete evidence to the contrary – as far as I can tell, there is none of that here – I simply cannot believe that this decent and gentle man whom I know personally for nearly four decades would be guilty of any kind of behavior that is deliberately inconsistent with fairness and integrity. Having said that, I can’t deny that any teacher would usually have a completely understandable natural bias toward his or her students, creating a conflict of interests that makes such judging, at best, problematic.

  • Judith says:

    Sounds like a lot of sour grapes happening here.

    One of the winners felt that he has never played better and he has been in a number of overseas competitions. He feels that competing allows him to get better and move to a new level. The experience is what counts in the long run.