Indy violin race goes to the wire as judge steps down over bias question

Indy violin race goes to the wire as judge steps down over bias question


norman lebrecht

September 20, 2014

After days of controversy over the final lineup – half of whom are her pupils – the eminent violinist Miriam Fried has stepped down from the jury of the International Indianapolis Violin Competition. A statement said her resignation was to avoid any possibility of jury partiality’.

The contest has been mired in controversy since Slipped Disc first raised the possibility of bias earlier this week.

All six finalists are women, five are Korean.

miriam fried


  • Milka says:

    Resigning’s a joke -as if jury members are
    not in touch with each other privately and are not aware of which contestant
    comes from the celebrated teacher of the moment.
    Read Julian Webber article july 28 th. 2014Guardian
    on how competitions are “fixed “.If even half true it’s an eye opener for those who believe in the integrity of
    competitions never mind the competitors who know how the game is played .Mr. Lebrecht has only touched on the tip of the iceberg .

  • Fidelio says:

    I think she was asked to recuse her position on the panel. She did not resign from the panel. Had she not been asked, I’m sure she would’ve stay on, and voted against candidates who were not her students. Even if her students do play the best, and win top prizes, their prizes will be marred and held under a cloud now, due to her unskilled political machinations.

    Also why hasn’t anyone looked at Jaime Laredo a little more careful? His student Jin-Joo Cho’s rendition of the Mozart 5th Concerto was extremely weak, and ineffective in all facets. Surely, most of the violinists eliminated in earlier rounds, played better than her, no?

  • Robert Levin says:

    The great Nathan Milstein, with whom I studied in Zurich, once told me that he served on only one jury in his lifetime and that he was vehemently opposed to competitions. He said the following, “those who win think they are the greatest in the world, and those who lose think they are the worst, neither of which is necessarily true.” Many of the great violinists of the past who were far more interesting and unique than most of what we hear today, would not make it through the first round of competitions such as Indianapolis, Montreal and Tchaikovsky. How many Gold Medal winners of these competitions have gone on to enjoy major and lasting careers?

  • Fabio Luisi says:

    Sorry to intrude again.
    I am not enthusiast about competitions either, but I would like to remind that many of today’s great soloist come from having won, or having been awarded in competitions. This might not be the only way, of course not, but it can be a way to get attention.
    Pianists: V. Ashkenazy (a lot of competitions, mostly won – Queen Elizabeth and Tchaikovsky – 2nd Prize at Chopin), Emil Gilels, Van Cliburn, Sokolov, Gavrilov, Matsuev, Trifonov, Fleisher, Pollini, Argerich, Ohlsson, Zimerman, Bunin, Blechaz, Lupu, Pedroni, Kern, Berezovsky etc.
    Violinists: Mullova, Stadler, Kremer, Tretiakov, Fried, Suwanai, Repin, Zneider, Skride, Khachatryan, Kavakos, Quarta, Faust, Gringolts etc.
    So I think saying that nobody came out of competitions doesn’t seem very accurate to me.
    Respect to Miriam Fried, who did the only right thing she could do in that situation. It would have been even better not to allow her own students to partecipate, but sending them to other competitions in which she is not juror.

  • Shenyeh says:

    One has right to question whether competitions are healthy things for the classical music business. I happen to appreciate the fact that there are countless musicians whose career were helped by winning a major competition. On the other hand, I do find it really tacky for people on this site nonchalantly throwing around words like “corruption” and “bias” to insinuate something unfair is truly going on with Indianapolis Competition. Mariam Fried is not only a highly respected musician, but also a fantastic teacher. Some of the very best young talents in the world pursue her as the teacher. She did not need to resign to show her integrity, because the integrity in question here is actually with those who spread baseless innuendoes to get attention in the name of righteous journalism.

  • paul peabody says:

    Here Here !

  • Milka says:

    Mr. Luisi does bring up a strong point in
    mentioning winners of these various
    competitions. The pianists have it a little better in the broad spectrum of players and playing ,the violin winners
    seem to suffer from a deadly inbred
    sameness differing from each other only by their technical ability.Whether
    the violin winners to-day are great solo artists is a subjective speculation.
    Mariam Fried may very well be a fine
    musician and fantastic teacher but for
    her to sit on a jury that will be evaluating the worth of her pupils seems
    more than just a lapse of judgement .
    Excepting the people involved no one knows if anything
    “unfair” is going on in Indianapolis but
    a red flag has been raised in Ms.Fried
    being a juror.Her resignation raises
    more questions as to the integrity of
    the competition .ongec

  • John says:

    These are outrageous and unfounded accusations.
    The Indy competition like any other decent competition recuses teachers from voting for their own students, and goes a step further and throws out any score that is unusually high or low to discourage favoritism.
    It is not at all surprising that a teacher who has one of the top classes in the country would have students that do well in competitions. All three of Miriam Fried’s students who advanced to the final won 1st prizes in other international competitions.

    How easy it is to insinuate and stir up talk of “controversy” while casually tarnishing both the achievements of excellent musicians and the reputation of one of the most well respected musicians in the business

  • Bill says:

    Norman needs to consult a dictionary and understand the difference between ”resign” and ”recuse” — there was no resignation from the jury here. Ms. Fried agreed not to vote for the final round, but did not step down.

    I’ve spoken with a number of prize winners of important competitions and a frequent juror (who has had students win prizes in such competitions where he was not on the jury) Unanimous opinion is that the time for AR to speak up about his perception of unfairness was before his student entered, not after they didn’t advance to the finals. Don’t forget that one of the finalists was a former student of his (Dami Kim), but as she is a South Korean woman, apparently she can be casually thrown under the bus.

    And to insinuate that Gingold would be upset about what Laredo was doing with his competition is a totally classless move. I’m a longtime fan of Rosand’s playing and teaching, but my opinion of the man is greatly diminished by that.

    I would like to hear someone from the conspiracy crowd explain what leverage could be used against a juror like Andres Cardenes (Tchaikovsky) or Philip Setzer (IVCI) to get them to toe the line and ensure that the pre-ordained competitor wins. It is easy to imagine that a juror would like their own student to win, of course. Why should they go along with a plot for someone else’s student to win?

  • Robert Levin says:

    I’m not sure if Mr. Luisi is pointing the finger at me in his above response, but with the possible exception of Gidon Kremer, none of the violinists on his list approach the true greatness of such towering violinists as Kreisler, Milstein, Heifetz, Oistrakh, Hassid, Kogan, Francescatti and Szigeti. Also, I did not write that no violinist or pianist ever achieved lasting success from a competition. However, I would ask him to consider the fact that of the sixteen top prize Van Cliburn Competition winners since 1962, only Radu Lupu (1966), so far, has gone on to enjoy a truly major and lasting international career.

    • shenyeh says:

      With all respect, Kogan won first prize in Queen Elisabeth. Many of the legends you mentioned were from an era that the business of career advancement was completely different and competitions weren’t as important.

    • Sergei says:

      A case can made for a great (to me) violinist, on the same class as those you mentioned, and who won the famous Wieniawski contest in 1952, but never made a truly successful career as a solist, and did just a few splendid recordings. I refer to Igor Oistrakh.

    • Daniel says:

      Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Kyung-Wha Chung, Arnold Steinhardt, David Nadien, and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg all won competitions

      I think they’re pretty great

  • Marina says:

    and Hirshhorn, who won the QE-1967