Let there be light: Competition publishes jury’s marks

Let there be light: Competition publishes jury’s marks


norman lebrecht

October 06, 2014

In a rare act of total transparency,  the Rina Sala Gallo piano competition in Monza has revealed the marks given by every member of the jury to every contestant. The publication was provoked by a jury walkout on the part of the French pianist Pascal Rogé, who claimed the result was being rigged by Italians in favour of their compatriots.

M. Rogé, it appears, may have been unaware of this competition’s rule that exceptionally high or low marks given by one judge to particular candidates would be discounted. Be that as it may, the spread of marks is interesting – especially those given to some who did not make the semi-finals. You can read the markings here.

M Rogé’s remarks on the competition have provoked international discussion. However, if the unintended result is an opening up of competitions to ensure honesty and accountability then the Rina Sala Gallo will have done the tainted competition industry a great service.

This should be the benchmark by which future competitions are run.


The Competition today issued the following press release:

Rogé toasts to his own voting errors. 

French pianist’s own marks determine the victory of the pianists he wanted to exclude, and  accuses his colleagues of fraud. 

With regard to Pascal Rogé’s statements on his Facebook page, subsequently published on SlippedDisc, the analysis of the jurors’ marks reported in attachment and explained below, shows that Mr. Rogé’s votes were prevalently maximum (10.00) or very close to the lowest (3.00 in the 1st & 2nd Rounds – 6.00 in the 3rd Round) marks.

Regarding the total number (46) of votes in all three rounds, he gave the highest mark 14 times and the lowest mark 21 times. However, the official rules of the competition, which every juror received via e-mail, state clearly that the lowest and highest marks, in the first three rounds of the competition, would have been invalidated. This is also stated clearly on the competition’s website: www.concorsosalagallo.it

As a result, the final outcome, which was based on the combined average of all three rounds marks, turned out to be entirely opposite to what Mr. Rogé wanted and expected. He thus managed, in the Third Round, to invalidate the votes he gave to Yano Yuta (10.00) and Yejin Noh (10.00), whereas his vote to Atsuko Kinoshita (8.50), the candidate whose performance of Schubert and Debussy he denigrated on his Facebook page to all those who had access to it, actually facilitated her admission into the Final. Similarly, his intention to exclude Pascalucci and Bortoluzzi, the Italians he accused to be “favoured” by the “mafia”, by giving them the lowest marks, produced the diametrically opposite effect. As a consequence, Maestro Rogé preferred to turn the tables and promptly leaving the competition, discredit the work of his colleagues, who quite to the contrary, acted in accordance with the rules that they had accepted and signed.

For these reasons, the Rina Sala Gallo Association requires Maestro Rogé to issue an immediate written apology  for failing to fulfill the duties that his position required, i.e. to respect the rules, and for having abandoned the jury –  unilaterally terminating  the contract he had signed – divulging false and misleading information, and discrediting the Competition, which will now proceed with a legal claim for damages.


Monza, Oct. 6th 2014


  • Martin Malmgren says:

    It is incorrect to say that he MAY have been unaware of that the highest and the lowest vote was discounted for each candidate – he admits it himself on his Facebook fan-page! He then shifts the blame on the organizers, saying that they should have informed him after the first round what the rules were, since it should have been obvious to them that he had not read them.

    How irresponsible can a judge be?

    Next month, he is chairman of the Geneva International Piano Competition, which according to some has been using the same voting system. Pascal has now expressed doubts on his facebook page regarding this competition.

    It will be interesting to see what happens next.

    • John says:

      It’s a pathetic excuse, and shows a lack of much sense of personal responsibility. Worrying for the folk of Geneva, I would have thought. And for those who jumped on the bandwagon cheering him on, consider how a competitor who had not read the rules would be treated if they tried to blame the competition, accusing them without a shred of evidence of mafioso corruption.

      A public apology to the competition and to Miss Kinoshita would probably be in order, for moral as well as legal reasons. I doubt that an explanation for the apparent contradictions between his statements and his marks would be very enlightening.

      • Martin Malmgren says:

        As there’s a slight risk of Pascal deleting comments again on his Facebook page (several negative comments were removed sometime ago, including my own), let’s hear what he is saying there in public. This is in French, but you can use google translate:

        “Je reconnais que malheureusement, je n’ai pas ou mal lu les règles de votation qui indiquait que seule la “moyenne” des votes étaient retenus et que les notes maximales étaient éliminées. C’est la premi¡ere fois que je rencontre ce système de votation.”

        ” J’ai accepté d’être le président du jury au prochain concours de Genève sans avoir été mis au courant du système de vote et maintenant je commence à avoir des inquiétudes si ce système que je trouve injuste est encore en vigueur.”

        “Puis-je ajouter qu’il aurait peut-être été juste que après mon “erreur” dans la première épreuve (avoir donné une note maximale et donc nulle) la ou les personnes qui étaient responsables du résultat, me fasse savoir que j’avais probablement mal compris leur système (personne ne vote consciemment de manière à ne pas être pris en compte!) et ainsi j’aurais pu ne pas faire la même erreur lors de la seconde épreuve.”

        Pascal’s wife also had her say:

        “It’s true that he should have read the rules more carefully before signing an agreement, but knowing him, who can’t stand reading fine prints, probably just signed it without really going through the papers, like he often does with contracts and other things. He can’t be bothered, with fine prints, I know him.”

        • Martin Malmgren says:

          We have some new words coming from Pascal Rogé! Listen, listen:

          “Message to Rina Sala Gallo Competition:

          I got carried away by my emotions and by the deep impression some of the semifinalists made on me.
          Since I am not so frequently a jury member at international piano competitions, I gave my voting as an artist and I must confess that I did not realise sufficiently that my votes could be eliminated if they were higher or lower than the votes of the other jury members.
          Looking back on my comment, I must admit that it was written in a moment that my enjoyment and expectation of fine music had suddenly been disrupted. Some of the words and qualifications which I used in my comment were indeed inappropriate, for which I would like to apologise.
          I remain a dedicated musician and I hope that we can all make our own contributions to the fine art of classical music.

          Pascal Rogé”


  • M2N2K says:

    Juries should be seated behind some kind of scrim that would allow them to hear competitors clearly but not to see them. The competitors should be announced by numbers only. Of course, any contact between juries and audiences (not to mention competitors) should be prohibited which is relatively easy to enforce, though it would likely mean that the jurors’ cellphones would have to be temporarily confiscated. This will not eliminate all possibilities for cheating – that is probably impossible to do – but it will minimize them considerably.

  • Pianoman says:

    With the recent competition ‘controversy’, what have we learned from all of this?

    In the case of both the Minneapolis and the Monza competitions, we can see that there was indeed no substantial and credible evidence to prove that there was a fix of any sort – on the contrary, we can see that in the case of the Monza competition, there unfortunately happened to be an ill-informed judge who did not read the rules carefully and even broke rules he had agreed upon – namely, to not talk about the competitors and their performers until after the competition was over. His own scorings were entirely inconsistent with his comments – for instance, he gave the winner of this competition the HIGHEST marking of any judge in the first round, yet, he claims that the semifinalists that didn’t pass to finals were far better than any of the other competitors. He claimed that there were three Italian judges on the jury, in fact there were two. And one of them did not vote in the first round.

    This ‘scandal’ was created by Pascal, but it was helped further by those who picked up on it and reported on it elsewhere. Slipped Disc plays a not-so-insignificant role here. I wonder if the competitors in the finals of this competition would have come across Pascal’s negative comments prior to their finals, had they not been published on SD…?

    And where is the evidence that there was a fix in the Minneapolis competition?

  • Andrew thayer says:

    To speak of invalidating his marks is missing the point. By giving the highest or lowest, he does more to raise or lower the average than if he gives the second highest or lowest. Giving a mark which “counts” would have less of an effect on the average than an “invalidated” mark.

  • milka says:

    John , a public apology to the memory
    of composers whose music is used as a stalking horse for success and fame
    would be more likely in order.

    Some years back a certain Vovka
    Ashkenazy is quoted as saying ” The
    good advice I received is not to enter competitions . ” Music is not a
    competition anyway .”…and lo behold !
    who is one of the judges at this
    latest Monza debacle .Things must be
    getting tough for Mr. Ashkenazy.As for
    the lady weeping for 2 to 3 hours she
    might watch the latest Australian kangaroo boxing match Mr. Lebrecht posted ,it just might lend perspective to
    what went on at Monza . The boxers to me are a far more honest event, plus more entertaining than what comes out of Monza under pretense
    of serving music.
    One hopes Mr. Lebrecht keeps us posted on the upcoming Geneva event. one needs a good laugh now and then .

  • Christopher Axworthy says:

    Many thanks to Peter for such a comprehensive report from someone with the necessary experience to be able to comment.

    You are right about the Busoni …..you were chairman and there was a very distinguished jury ….what happened that made it so unsatisfactory? I do not know.
    I heard some of the rounds on streaming and was especially surprised by the final concert .You are right ,putting the result down to politics was not fair to the jury who as you say were doing the best they could.

    The Busoni has a poor reputation, I am sorry to say ….I think we should ask ourselves why in respect for the great competitions of the past.

    Maybe if the level is not high enough, abandon the idea of first,second and third prizes but use the money for scholarships to the prospective talents that may, with help be ready for future competitions.
    The Keyboard Charitable Trust does just this at the Busoni competition.
    Politically this may not be acceptable and the money may only be available for specific prizes ,I realise that ,but I really do not know of any other way of making this situation useful for the pianists not yet ready for a career but with enormous potential.
    It must be very frustrating for everyone concerned.

    As to the marking system ,you are right .
    It is one thing to accept the rules but another to understand them fully.
    This is obviously what happened in Monza and of course,it could have been dealt with less publically but we are human beings and mistakes in the heat of the moment ( literally with the ease of instant comunication)are unfortunate and as we have seen can hurt the very talent that we are trying so hard to help.

    All these pianists have given up their youth for art …….and all talent deserve the utmost respect …I am sure we all agree on that.
    Any other considerations are secondary

    Please let us all learn from these discussions and not get bogged down with accusations.As you have shown here in your constructive critcism of us all.

  • John says:

    I’m reminded of the boy who says to his mum, “I want to be a musician when I grow up!” To which his mother replies, “Don’t be silly, dear. You can’t be both.”

  • Milka says:

    “All these pianists have given up their youth for art etc. “… one can try and keep a straight face and not laugh but
    it would take some effort .

    • John says:

      Pretty much the only thing you’ve said with which I agree, Milka.

      What is hypocritical about (flippantly) admitting to accepting payment for being a juror? Jurors are paid, normally. It would be hypocritical if you were a juror yourself, paid or unpaid, because of your apparent stance on the universal corruption in and around competitions, but not Cristina, because she is taking another view. Have you been a juror, incidentally?

      “A public apology to… composers”? Weird digression. Do you even know what a ‘stalking horse’ is? Apparently not — t’s not what you think it is.

      Your feeble attack on Vovka Ashkenazy’s integrity is vapid and flawed. I’m sure he is more than capable of putting you right, if he considers it worth it, which I doubt.

      I do laugh with you over the lost youth bit. Classical musiciains already take themselves way too seriously. A bit of perspective goes a long way.

      Some of us think Rogé owes an apology for his comments about the competitor he chose to malign, in contravention of the rules, because it was specious and gratuitous. You may show as much or, in your case, as little sympathy as you like, but it doesn’t alter the fact that this whole case — a very interesting one — is about Mr Rogé’s accusations and his behaviour, and whether or not they are justified. Clearly, Ms Kinoshita was blameless and did not deserve to be part of his diatribe. There is a time and a place for constructive criticism, and it wasn’t in the manner or at the time chosen by him.

      The fact that the published marks bear out both Mr Prosseda’s and the competition’s version of events, and cast doubt on Rogé’s integrity and judgment, but don’t seem to matter to so many people, make for a fascinating case study of human behaviour, don’t you agree? When one wants to believe something, it seems that facts make no difference. The world in microcosm.

  • Christopher Axworthy says:

    After all these very learned discussions with Roberto and Peter at the helm I see this is denegrating into a slanging match of rather squalid and insulting comments that I would rather not be part of ………..Pity!

  • Milka says:

    John – No, but I have been asked three times,finally the word was out on
    what I thought of competitions
    and the invites ceased ,though many players approached for personal
    exchanges on technique and the art.
    If I suspected a meeting was arranged with a competition in mind I usually
    cancelled . Yes I do know what a
    “stalking horse” means both in its narrow
    sense and in the more evolved modern sense.
    Perhaps you are stuck
    with its original meaning which has changed since the 16th .C

    I did not attack Mr.Ashkenazy ,I merely
    made an observation as to what he says and what he does.Apart from
    the observation he means nothing to me .I come from the school where what you say is what you do.

    You are quite justified in your opinion
    concerning Mr.Roge,he did handle
    the whole thing badly,and good or bad poor Ms.Kinoshita got caught in the cross fire.As for human behaviour
    it all hinges on whose ox is being gored .

    • John says:

      You succeeded in making me smile, Milka, thanks. I’m not really a 16th century man but could be cajoled into admitting that the present era is not my favorite in every way, not that any of us has a choice. Like I say, I wholeheartedly agree with your estimation of the risible idea that musicians “give up their youth” (sorry, Christopher, no offence intended, but it really is laughable). Snort. Either making music is one of the joys of life or it isn’t: you can’t have it both ways. This narcissistic attitude, often pandered to in musicians, is not an attractive quality, and I reckon it explains something about this sordid saga. Try (imagine) growing up as a child labourer in any one of a hundred poor countries around the world and then shamelessly complain about having had to practise too much as a bairn.

      Frankly, the idolising of performing artists is over the top anyway and has always given me the shits. Most performers are rightly forgotten as soon as they turn up their toes, because their job was only ever temporal and recreative. Most couldn’t write a half decent piece to save themselves, so can never quite understand the music they play from a creative standpoint because they don’t have to, yet often regard themselves as superior to their composer colleagues. And yet it’s the creative artists who really contribute to the great human conversation, that mysterious and wonderful passing on of ideas and memory that makes us unique and art so resonant between the dead and the living, and who are remembered and who continue to inspire and feed and delight us.

      A bit of genuine humility and an honest grovel would probably make Mr Rogé more friends than he has already on his heavily edited Facebook pages. There’s no shame in admitting fault when the admission is genuine. On the contrary: there is real honour. His “poor me” apology for an apology is a piss-take. No way for a real man to behave.

    • John says:

      Incidentally, Vovka Ashkenazy was reported many years ago as saying that he didn’t go in for competitions because: “The judges would be constantly making comparisons with my father. He strongly advised me not to enter them. I’m perfectly content to introduce myself to audiences as a soloist in a symphony concert.” That was in 1986, and he was 24. I think it’s perfectly understandable reasoning, for him in his situation, or at least is hardly tantamount to hypocrisy as you imply. Nowhere in that interview was he denigrating the idea of competitions per se. Or did he make further statements more recently?

      In any case, it’s best to treat each case and each person on their merits, don’t you think? The reason so many people fell into the trap of automatically taking Rogé at his word and believing the worst of Monza is because of a prejudice against competitions in general. The irony of it all.

  • Jonathan says:

    I don’t think to reveal the marks is changing ANYTHING to the story.
    Any professional musician knows MOST of the competitions are CORRUPTED
    and this is just a case among hundred others.
    I agree 100 percent with Pascal Rogé, and all pianists who are commenting against him should think about their integrity ;
    I think a lot of jury members have interest to go against Pascal Rogé, and computer vote is just a very easy way to dissimulate a Mafia acting.
    By mafia, I want to say that in most competitions like that nowadays, you always have few jury members that know each other before the competition, have their favorite candidates and know what mark they should give to him/her to see him/her winning.
    Pascal Rogé, thank you.

  • Martin Malmgren says:

    With regards to giving highest or lowest marks to competitors, here’s a story that should interest many, about Richter and the Tchaikovsky 1958 competition:


  • milka says:

    John – some years after 1986 if the quote is correct ” If I lost there would
    be a loss of face if I did not do well”

    “Music is not a competition anyway”.

    One judge observed she could not afford to turn down the” job” as judge.

    Music is subjective -should answer
    the question why it cannot be the object of competitions
    The world is full
    of piano -violin prize winners who
    have gone nowhere after the initial
    buzz. The prize given to the 1958 winner not that he wasn’t perhaps
    deserving was also one of a political nature.The comment made by Richter
    and the marking was also attributed to
    Artur Rubinstein,it all depends on who is telling what story .

  • Milka says:

    Shave it as you like .
    One is not being hyper -critical, I calls
    em as I sees em. how could one
    interpret “music is not a competition
    anyway ” other than “music” is not a competition ?

    • John says:

      I don’t think music is a competition either. On the other hand, whether or not music competitions are useful or not is another matter. I love music; I hate the music business, but am stuck with it, and in it. The reality is, selection and rejection happen all the time, out in the open (relatively speaking) with competitions, or more covertly. Hardly hypocritical to take that stance, unless you are hyper-critical, as I say. I suspect Rogé is the one who might have had a close shave here.