Monza: A maligned juror responds

The French pianist Pascal Rogé accused the Italians on the Monza jury of rigging the results. Now the outcome is known, here is a response from one of the Italian jurors, Roberto Prosseda:

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I read the statement that Pascal Rogé published on Slipped Disc about the Monza International Piano Competition and the various comments. Since I was sitting on the same jury, and my name has been tarnished by his declarations, I am here giving my point of view on what happened. Being one of only two (not three as he writes) Italian jurors, I am, of course, deeply offended by the equating “Italians” with “Mafia”, as Mr. Rogé presents it in his statement and I am quite surprised that many comments on Slipped Disc are supporting this idea, without knowing what is going on, without knowing Mr. Rogé’s marks or other jurors’ marks, and without having heard the competitors.

I did not have the pleasure to talk with Mr. Rogé at all during the whole competition. The rules of the Monza Competition, which every juror had to accept, including Mr. Rogé, do not allow jurors to share thoughts about the competitors during the competition, to avoid any influence on the freedom and independence of judgement of each member of the jury, and to keep a serene atmosphere for the competitors. So, the declarations that Mr. Rogé wrote about his judgement of the competitors before the end of the competition were against the rules that he had to follow and were a bad influence on the three finalists who read them before their final stage.

Since Mr. Rogé did not know my judgements, I am surprised that he could write anything regarding them and particularly something so outrageous, alluding to possible connections between the two Italian jurors (me and Mr. Risaliti) and the Mafia. Talking about “mafia” and “dishonesty” just basing this accusation on personal tastes and suppositions, without knowing “who is doing what”, is not something that I can approve of, and does not give much strength to Mr. Rogé’s reliability.

On the fact, written in a comment that I read in Slipped Disc, that Mr. Rogé is “not only the sole trustworthy judge on that jury, but probably the only true and qualified professional musician (one who is still actively and constantly concertizing)”, well, it is enough to google the jurors’s names (including Mr. Rogé) to check the real situation.

As in any piano competition, the final result is an average of each juror’s marks. So it is absolutely normal that the results do not correspond to the point of view of a single jury member. In the case of Monza competition, the three finalists were not exactly the ones that I would have liked, as it will be possible to see soon from the jurors’ marks that will be published on the website of the competition: http://www.concorsosalagallo.it

It is quite astonishing to notice that the marks of Mr. Rogé himself for the six semifinalists contradict his own statement. He included among his top three favorites the Japanese girl, Atsuko Kitoshima, that he himself in his slipped disc statement described with this words (which I strongly disapprove): “[she] played today the most boring, tedious and dull Schubert B-flat Sonata I have ever heard in my life, not to mention some poor Debussy Preludes without any french touch”.

Why did Mr. Rogé want this competitor among the three finalists, if he did not like her? Maybe the answer itself is in Mr. Rogé statement. Also, according with the evaluation rule that Mr. Rogé approved, the highest and lowest marks for each competitor are excluded from the average calculation, and Mr. Rogé very often voted the highest or the lowest mark, self-excluding himself from the judgement 38 times out of 47, and making his highest marks  (10/10) for his two favorites competitors being excluded from the average calculation.

More in general, having accepted to sit on a jury, any juror also accepts the democratic system of making the mathematical average of the marks, and I cannot think that everybody who has different points of view is a “mafioso” or is acting in a dishonest way. The fact that the marks of each juror will be published is a sign of transparency and honesty, which still very few piano competitions apply.

I believe that in a civil society every citizen should accept the rules of the system where he agrees to take part. If an artist does not accept the system of a piano competition, he should not sit on its jury. Now, I see that Mr. Rogé is very busy in judging in piano competitions around the world and will be the President of the next Geneva Piano Competition, so he is probably not against this system, that he well knows.

We can discuss about the utility of piano competitions, we can agree that sometimes the best artists are not the ones who get the first prize, but, on the other side, a piano competition is still a good opportunity for young and still unknown artists to be known by a wider audience and by international musicians. While I do no expect any excuse from Mr. Rogé in my regards, I wish, at least, that Mr. Rogé will want to help his favourite competitors to start the career that they deserve.


Roberto Prosseda

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  • Thank you Roberto. This clarifies the whole situation. I also felt quite offended at Rogé’s statements and I DO hope the truth will come out.

  • I understood that Mr. Rogé liked the Japanese BOY (Yano Yuta) and wanted him to come further!
    He only mentioned the Japanese GIRL to have made to the finals, not that he wanted her in the finals.

  • What I find distasteful are the unnecessary references to the competitors themselves, whose fair and respectful treatment ought to be the first concern of any juror, before anything else. I can understand Mr Rogé’s frustration, if he felt that his judgment was not reflected in the results (we’ve all been there…), and his allegations of impropriety and corruption are worth examining if genuine. However, to choose to humiliate one of the competitors so publicly is not only mean and unnecessary, it is frankly hypocritical. If he “…cannot face young students, working so hard and playing with all their talent and energy…” because of the care and respect he implies he has for them (and no doubt he does), then why would he go out of his way to attack and disrespect one of them? Whatever opinion he might have of “the Japanese girl,” he is surely not suggesting that she is part of a cadre of “political and fraudulent people who are just there to serve their own interest,” is he?

    Now that he has had time to reflect, I would hope that he might consider that Atsuko Kinoshita deserves an apology. I think she does.

  • I’m pleased to see this response and have been shocked to see how many have instinctively taken Mr. Roge’s account to be factual simply because he has a ‘big name’ and because of a general dislike of competitions.

    While it’s hard to say whose account is accurate, by publicly maligning the work of several of the young pianists involved Mr. Roge has proven himself to be unprofessional and discourteous towards the competitors.

    He seems to believe that only his opinions have value and he should be sole juror.

    Also, his bringing up the “Mafia” is simply bizarre. Unless he has some actual evidence that there was the involvement of organized crime, he is playing upon negative cultural stereotypes and is a bigot who has no business engaging in the international arena.

  • In Mark Twain’s (originally censored)
    brilliant “Letters from the Earth” The Archangel Satan is banished to earth for a celestial day which is our thousand years ,he writes back to the
    Archangels Gabriel and Michael on his findings. He notes earth is a strange
    place even extraordinary ,but also
    notes all the people are insane .

    Just a thought that crosses ones mind
    when reading on music competitions.

    Mr. Lebrecht opened a can of worms
    as to the lunacy of all music competitions.

  • Glad to have Robertos comments he is the most qualified person I know and it is a relief to have a reasoned view of what seemed an even more alarming situation than is usual.I think we all fall down on the points situation that Roberto so clearly describes …………of course you have to accept the system if you are on the jury and after all a platform for young musicians is what we all want .My only reservation would be to clarify the fact that the most talented people should win and not be eliminated by what Roberto describes so well as a technicality. In art there can be no rules and regulations ,Thank God,at least here,and seems to me that if the Competition Circuit is to continue and be of some constructive use there should be a flexible system that takes into account the Artistic temperament of the Jurors as well as the competitiors that should remember that it is there to find very best artists ready for a career in an ever more diminishing concert world.

  • Thanks to Maestro Prosseda. I was at the competition and have followed it for over two decades now. Yesterday’s unsavoury chorus of self-righteous critics should at least have had the courtesy to be in possession of the facts before being so quick to condemn. “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”.

  • Thinking about Roberto comments about marking ………of course Roberto is unusual in being a great artist ,with an amazing mind that is able to analyze things clearly.So the juror who gives in his enthusiasm about a performance top marks risk having his vote not taken into consideration- Reminds me of the story of Richter giving zero or twenty to his choice .So his vote would not have been considered in this context!
    Great artists sometimes ,as I am sure in this case ( who knows maybe in the famous Pogorelich case too) do not have the same analalytical mind as Roberto or the experience of the professional jurors who are used to this system.I fell into this trap too I fear …….maybe to make the system much simpler bearing in mind that the greatest artists not always have the best minds for such beaurocratic if seemingly democratic system………..The best must always be the best regardless of a system that is all too easily misunderstood.As Roberto points out Pascal Roge in his enthusiasm had probably misunderstood a system that does not necessarily take this into consideration -highest and lowest votes eliminated still seems incomprehensible to me but then I do not have Robertos brain…or talent for that matter.The fact that Roberto and Riccardo Risaliti were both there makes me realise that there was a tragic misunderstand here that should not be allowed to happen in future for the sake of the talent they have before them.

  • Well said Roberto and Ian. For a disenchanted jury member to so lambast a particular performance shows a breathless degree of insensitivity towards a young artist, the fall-out being considerably more than if this performance had been simply assigned to anonymity. So Roge’s considered judgment of the pianist I will not embarrass further by naming is this: “[she] played today the most boring, tedious and dull Schubert B-flat Sonata I have ever heard in my life, not to mention some poor Debussy Preludes without any French touch”. An old adage – ‘engage brain before opening mouth’……………..

  • The answer of Roberto shows sense of nuance and intelligence. Nevertheless there is a widespread believe among musicians that jury maffia (which is of course different from Maffia as it exist in Italian communities) exist. Probably not for nothing. It would be interesting to do some research to find out if young Italian pianists win considerably more competitions in Italy then elsewhere.

  • Mr Roge indeed discredits everything he says by actually playing a pianist in the top 3, who, as per his written statement, shouldn’t be nowhere close to there.
    Seems like he is an attention grabber.
    The Geneva competition should think very hard, if they want to have such a person representing them.

  • Many thanks to Maestro Roberto Prosseda for a detailed and completely thorough answer to the totally distasteful statement that appeared yesterday here. I still believe that competitions can be a great learning experience for young musicians and a celebration of their art. Would be great not to attack them so quickly.

  • Pascal Rogé admits himself (on his facebook fanpage – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pascal-Rogé ) that he either did not read carefully or did not read at all the voting rules, which made clear that unusually high and low votes are to be eliminated. He now thinks that the competition organizers should have informed him about this after the first round, after which he thought it would be clear to them that he was unaware of this rule, as most of his votes ended up being discredited.

    Very soon, he is also chairman of the Geneva Piano Competition. On Pascal’s facebook page, pianist Philippe Cassard mentions that he experienced this very same voting system at the Geneva competition. Pascal now has concerns about whether this system, which he considers unfair, is still in force.

    Does it need to be said that it would be better if Pascal read the rules of voting BEFORE accepting to participate as a juror in competitions, rather than after…?

  • The rules of this competition are plain and simple and can be found on the competition website:

    http://www.concorsosalagallo.it/attachments/article/170/Bando%20RSG_2014%2015×21.pdf

    There’s just a single page that is directed to the jury, half of it about the evaluation process. Here, we can read:

    “27. During the First and the Second Rounds, the participants will be judged according to
    a marking system between 3 and 10, divisible into quarter units (0.25, 0.50, or 0.75).
    Marks will be given anonymously. For each Round, a pass-list will be established that
    is determined by the average mark of each participant, and it will exclude both the
    lowest and the highest marks. At the end of the Second Round, a pass-list for entry
    into the Third Round will be established by taking the average of the marks from
    both Rounds. This pass-list will indicate the six candidates admitted for entry into the
    Third Round.”

    Yet somehow, Pascal did not bother reading this single A4 properly before accepting to take part as a juror in this competition.

    • I am not sure the issue was whether Rogé’s own marks were disregarded by virtue of being the highest or lowest (not necessarily an issue — if anything, it shows that Rogé is making full use of the range of marks, thus rendering them more meaningful); rather, Rogé seemed to be taking issue with the secrecy behind the compilation of marks (which may or may not be justified) and with the manner in which some of the judges may or may not have voted tactically to favour a certain candidate on non-artistic grounds.

      • Pascal was clearly displeased with that the lowest and highest points were discredited, once he found out. He didn’t read the rules carefully enough, and admitted it, yet shifted the blame on the organizers – they, he argued, should have informed him after the result of the first round when many of his votes were already discredited, because it should have been clear to them that he had not read the rules carefully enough.

        Very interesting, indeed.

        As for the secrecy of the voting, I don’t understand that complaint, especially considering that the competition promised to publish info on how each juror voted. I haven’t seen it on the website yet, however. As for tactic voting – has Pascal made any attempts of proving that?

  • Well, this is indeed getting more and more interesting. Ami Hakuno Rogé, Pascal’s wife, wrote the following on Pascal’s facebook fanpage (which anyone can have a look at):

    “As for Roberto Prosseda, it might be interesting for everyone to know that he was not even there in the first two preliminary rounds. He only arrived at the semi-finals”

    So, where’s the Italian ‘mafia’ that Pascal is complaining about? Without Roberto, the only Italian on the jury we have left is the chairman, Riccardo Risaliti. Pascal incorrectly claimed that there were three Italian jurors when in fact there were two. Now, seeing that there were only two Italians and that one of them didn’t vote in the first two rounds, Pascal’s words are making even less sense.

    Where is the Italian ‘mafia’ of this competition…?

  • this is more an exercise in how to open a discussion, and where. it has been said that “talk is not cheap”, seldom more evidenced than here. the importance of competitions is educational. and the focus at this level is on advanced piano students, not seasoned professionals.

  • Much has been written here about Pascal Rogé’s ‘great artist’ status, to which the correct response should be: so what? It’s not about him, or shouldn’t be; it is about vulnerable, hopeful young colleagues, and I find too little focus on them, or in support or consideration of what impact this has had on them, either in his diatribe or in most of the comments to the previous posts, from a lot of people all too ready to rush to judgment with nothing but hearsay in evidence. If there really has been any corruption involved as he claims, he ought to pursue his allegations, and would have my full support, for one. Walking out on responsibilities he has accepted seems self-indulgent and histrionic to me. As for the scoring system, you can’t have it both ways: either you adopt a form of averaging marks, moderating the anomalous ones, which is standard practice in all sorts of marking panel situations, or you have open discussions, which are demonstrably difficult in practice, open to bullying and manipulation, let alone time-consuming. Around the world, the secret ballot is seen as about as fair a device as possible, if not perfect. Contrary to what many think, marking in secret actually makes secret deals much harder, although not impossible. If the competition does follow through by publishing all the marks and Rogé’s are as anomalous as they suggest, it will be instructive to hear his rationale, too.

    We need grown-ups of good character on juries, not just great artists, who realise that they have a responsibility to read and abide by the rules, and to treat colleagues and competitors with respect. Pascal Rogé, whom I’ve met and seems a decent guy, has done none of these things in this instance, by his own admission and by his actions, throwing accusations about like confetti, and deliberately humiliating an innocent competitior in the process. I, too, have seen corruption at work in the piano competition world, and as a youth experienced the blunt end of it myself, but we have to be very careful about drawing false conclusions. Every case is different, and our colleagues in most cases do the very best they can. I’m just not sure that Mr Rogé has done the best he can on this occasion.

    It depends on what he does now, I guess.

  • Actually, Atsuko Kinoshita played, in my opinion, a most beautiful and limpid first movement of the Schubert Bb major Sonata, and was incredibly upset with what Pascal Rogé wrote about her performance in the Third Round (her host family in Monza reported that she cried for 2 to three hours on Saturday, the day of the Final), and was still almost in tears when I spoke to her after the Final. Pascalucci also said to another jury member that he had read the offending post on the train to Milan for the orchestral rehearsal, and it had really affected him badly……..

    • Be careful with milking this kind of stuff, next you’ll make us believe she got the prize to sooth her inconsolable soul…

      • You state that one should “Be careful with milking this kind of stuff, next you’ll make us believe she got the prize to sooth her inconsolable soul”?

        The young lady got third prize, and it certainly was no consolation. Besides, the reporting to the jury of her reaction to what was written about her playing was made AFTER the results of the final were announced, so I do not see the logic of your comment.

  • Sometimes it is not too
    difficult to side with the observation
    held by many people that musicians
    oft are lunatics ,if not outright then
    very close .This Monza nonsense
    certainly does not help in dissuading
    one from thinking the lunatics are running the asylum .

  • I totally agree with what John Humphreys, Pianoman and John wrote. I really thank Roberto Prosseda for his post and appreciate the fact that, although he has such a busy concert schedule, he has taken the time to give his opinion about what happened in Monza.

    Somewhere I read about Richter’s voting in a competition; I don’t know how many times Richter has been in a jury and how inexperienced he could have been, but, without even willing to compare people and situations (which in my opinion would be totally inappropriate in this case) it seems to me that Mr Rogé is quite busy with this kind of activity, so I suppose that he should know that different competitions adopt different vote systems. By the way, he will be the president of the jury in Geneva, where the vote system is about the same as in Monza and, just out of curiosity, I have seen that, in Geneva, his vote will count twice in case of tie.

    Of course we may discuss forever what can be the best voting system in competitions and I am sure that we could find pros and cons for each of them. However I think that the problem here is not the voting system, but something much simpler than that. I think that, when you accept to be a juror in a competition, rules have already been decided far in advance and you have to accept them if you want to be part of the jury, as nobody is obliged to be a juror (and yes, I discovered that there is also the “ipad thing” in the rules, as it can be easily read on internet).

    I never liked competitions when I was a young pianist and, consequently, I never liked to be a juror (in fact I keep declining most offers to be a juror), but I always hoped -and I still hope- that, when a young pianist goes to a competition, he might find real artists and honest people sitting in the jury, people who, first of all, respect each other and respect contestants, no matter how well they play. I also think that concert pianists who are often on stage, like Mr. Rogé, should always be the most sensitive jurors toward young artists, no matter how well these young artists may play, as they should remember much better than other jurors -who might be only teachers and no more performers-, how hard it is to deliver a great performance when under some unexpected pressure.

    Of course “compassion” does not exclude hard criticism when and where necessary, but, in my opinion, there is a right time and place for everything, especially if, like in Monza, jurors are required to be available for contestants who want to know why they have been eliminated (again, I have just discovered this by reading the rules and I am wondering how many competitions have this kind of rule so clearly written down as an obligation; more often, you see jurors just running away and avoid any kind of contact with eliminated contestants).

    Benedetto Lupo

  • I am very surprised to see that nobody talks about the system to take the average of the 3 rounds to go in final. Maybe I am innocent, but I thought that in a competition, only the result of a semi-final should count to go in final.
    For example, Kinoscita had the worst note of the six participants in the third round and was in final. Yano had the best note in the third round and was not in the final.
    Is this logical ?

    If the competition wants to be logical, they must do an average of all rounds even in final. Is it the case ?

    • Don’t you think that a judge should make up his/her mind on if it is an agreeable rule or note BEFORE agreeing to judge in a competition, rather than after signing such an agreement?

      I asked the same question on Pascal Rogé’s facebook fanpage ( https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pascal-Rog%C3%A9/100680783964?fref=ts ), to find my comment deleted not long after. Now, other voices have raised similar concerns, especially once the votings became public and it became clear that Pascal for instance gave higher votes to some Italian pianists than the Italian jurors he claims were ‘fixing’ this competition…Although he claimed that two candidates that were out after the semifinals were on a completely different level than the others, then Pascal himself happens to have given the winner the HIGHEST vote of all judges in the first round, as well as a very high mark in the second round!

  • OK there’s now a lot of focus on Pascal’s unwitting comment about the Japanese girl. There’s a big possibility that it’s a mistake and he got some people mixed up, as no doubt this article was written in great haste riding on emotion. He obviously didn’t think clearly about the repercussions that this comment would have on the contestant and obviously the publisher didn’t pick this up either (which they should have, really).

    It doesn’t take away from the main point, which is that competition Jury’s are notoriously corrupt. Anyone in this industry knows it, and the only one’s who deny it are part of the corruption. There is absolutely no two ways about this. He’s merely expressing his frustration about his experience with this corruption. It’s all old news now.

    • If there was another semifinalist that played the Schubert B flat and a set of Debussy preludes, you may be right. But that seems unlikely. And that is beside the point – it’s terrible by a juror to come out and claim that a competition was rigged before the finals are even on. Did you perhaps take note that in the first round of the competition, Pascal voted the HIGHEST out of all jurors to the Italian that won the competition? And yet, he claims that the competition was rigged, even though the Italian jurors (that he claims ‘fixed’ the competition) gave lower marks to this pianist than he did himself.

      Have a look, the scorings are up on the website!

  • I didn’t say that because of Pascal’s Rogé reaction, and it’s true that it was written into the rules.
    I just ask if you think it’s a good system for any competition ?
    The worst candidate in semi-final goes to final ? OK, it’s in the rules, but is it fair ?

    • For better or worse, a lot of competitions work this way – the average of all previous rounds is what counts. In Maria Canals, they even publish the scores after each round,so everyone sees where they are comparing to others. Whether this system is better or worse is imo outside of the discussion – these were the rules of the competition, and the jurors agreed to the rules. One of them just didnt read them so carefully.

  • Julien, it is more typical to judge only the current round. I actually asked Veda Kaplinsky recently at a competition here whether previous rounds were counted. she says “they got here”—that is to say, they got to this round and the current round is what is being judged, at least consciously. but I could tell from her overall demeanor that the truth is that the choice of winner is based on what is expected to happen after the judges have made their decision, which in the best of cases is a god thing. the external pressures to choose a certain candidate, but in her words “whether they can ‘go on'” is a factor and whether some things “need work”. those are the obvious things. the audience also places pressure on the judge–when they respond strongly to one candidate you can feel it in the air. but the judges in the competition I mentioned are required to give masterclasses to the competitors at a designated stage of the event. how about that. but if any memeber of the audience, including a judge, states that the performance of a work was boring, it is up to the performer to investigate exactly why it was boring. the performer bears the responsibility to move the hearts not only of the judges but all kinds of critics in the future. they have to get used to this, even if they believe their own concept of the music is a finished product that doesn’t need to be changed, and maybe it is. I once saw someone place third at a competition when I felt they should be first, and at the time I was irate, though privately, and I’m not even a judge. we have apples and oranges here, different styles of music, different looking people, different kinds of focus. certain works that are moe immediately engaging v.s. works that some might not be as close to. in this case ,I thought the winning performance relied too heavily on underlining and provocation on the most basic terms in a facile virtuoso style of music. the one I though should win was exquisitely beautiful and micro-tuned to perfection in very difficult passages. so how do you make a choice? the one the audience [of the moment] understands of course, [or be killed]

  • Norman: I had not read this thread prior to posting my three tomes on the other one devoted to this issue. Should they not be in the same place on your site rather than separate? Or should I repost my ramblings here as well?

  • Thank you Mr. Prosseda for your very considered and dignified response to the position you found yourself in. I do hope that my sticking my oar in – on the other thread devoted to this issue – did not fan the fire more.

  • Dear Martin,

    I don’t want to meddle in this issue any more than you have, but I wanted to agree with your statement 200% with the fact that PR is just a spoiled messed-up immature old person, definitely attention grabber (call it what you want) at any opportunity, a most unsocial individual when in juries — which I have shared quite a few and suffered at the Leeds a most sureal personal attack from Pascal, as if I had anything to do with the final result — never mingling with any of his peers.
    Actaully I did write to Norman, telling a few more interesting mishaps re Pascal’s behaviour within the different competitions I happened to witness, but in the end, decided to withdraw it (although Norman DID read it).

    Absolutely I agree that the GENEVA should DROP him as their President: who, in their right mind, wants to have such a ticking bomb running such a prestigious Competition?! Get real!

    And FYI: Pascal and met at the Enesco Competition in 1967, same time I met Radu Lupu — who rightly has NEVER wanted to either dompete in any of theseConcours nor figure as juror! Bless him.

    Problem is that some of us need the money that comes with the hardest of the sedentary jobs.

    • Perhaps when one juror criticizes another juror’s behavior, one ought to perhaps argue from a history of impeccable behavior oneself…….I have been told by some friends that the Hong Kong Competition will no longer re-invite a specific juror, and I ain’t talking about Pascal Rogé, due to very bad behavior……

      • Dear Howard,

        You do NOT know the true story, so just do not hint at it. Bad behavioUr was a completely ASSUMED non-reality!

        Then, Pascal knows how he behaves in competitions… totally ‘out-of bounds’.. and untouchable..

        You are free to side with whomever you like, your choice but don’t speak about what YOU don’t know — or did the weirdo give you that info. That might figure .. he DOESN’T know the claim either, unless HE himself made it.. Perjury = FALSE,FALSE!

        Cordially, C*

  • EDITED:

    Dear Martin,

    I don’t want to meddle in this issue any more than you have, but I wanted to agree with your statement 200% with the fact that PR is just a spoiled messed-up immature old person, definitely attention grabber (call it what you want) at any opportunity, a most unsocial individual when in juries — fyi: I have shared quite a few and suffered at the Leeds a most sureal personal attack from Pascal, as if I had anything to do with the final result — never mingling with any of his peers.
    Actaully I did write to Norman, telling a few more interesting mishaps re Pascal’s behaviour within the different competitions I happened to witness as co-jurorj, but in the end, decided to withdraw it (although Norman DID read it).

    Absolutely I agree that the GENEVA should DROP him as their President: WHO in their right mind, wants to have such a ticking bomb running such a prestigious Competition?! Get real!

    And FYI: Pascal and I met at the Enesco Competition in 1967, same time I met Radu Lupu — who rightly has NEVER wanted to either compete in any of these Concours (pressured for doing so) nor figure as juror! Bless him.

    Problem is that some of us need the money that comes with the hardest of the sedentary jobs.

    • Dear Cristina,

      Thank you for these interesting remarks. Perhaps you did the right thing by withdrawing your comments – I think that what we have is quite enough to see what kind of judge and what kind of person Pascal is. It seems to me that it is wisest to keep a lot of these issues – experiences as a juror, experiences of other jurors, feedback, results, etc – to oneself, unless one has ultimate proof that something has gone terribly wrong. There is so much room for misunderstandings in these issues, and people will most likely feel that they were misrepresented. Meanwhile, the ‘audience’ will perhaps be left unsure about who and what to believe…Naturally, it is much much worse to start talking while a competition is still taking place (when the rules in fact forbid talking about competitors etc), but even with competitions that took place in the past, I wonder if we really can learn all that much from such talks. Perhaps you really did the right thing by withdrawing your comments.

      (I realize that your comment was directed not to me but another ‘Martin’, but I felt like anwering in any case. I always go under my full name here.)

      • Thanks so much Martin MALMGREEN.. you were right.. I was writing to YOU!!

        Thanks for the comments/advice!..

        Cheers. See you some time, somewhere, somehow..

        Hiug.

  • “Problem is that some of us need the money etc…..” How about personal
    integrity, never mind self respect.

    To bad most don’t take a note from
    Radu Lupu outside of praising his stance as does Ms. Ortiz ….but a buck is a buck however one gets it. Aren’t all these competitions about money while waxing poetic in serving
    the art? The workings of hypocrisy and how it is all justified does make for interesting reading .Poor Diogenes
    would need more than a lamp in examining the “classical music”world of competition.

    • You are completely right. Most if not all of these judges are utterly completely full of sh*t. They claim how tortured they are by the insane process of trying to judge the un-judgeable, but they are the first to jump at the chance for the money and publicity of taking these cushy judging jobs. From an outsider’s perspective, I don’t believe a word of of what they write. They are all disingenuous beyond belief.

  • if it is known in advance that the actual numbers would be published, there’s more to this than the award, isn’t there?

  • The marks being revealed by the competition does not change 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 see a lot of them in the comments who are themselves president or jury members…..
    A computer vote is just a very easy way to dissimulate a “mafia” acting…

    By mafia, I want to say that in most competitions like this one nowadays, you always have few jury members that know each other before the competition, they have their favorite candidates and know what mark they should give to him/her to see him/her winning.

    And concerning Christina Ortiz,
    who says “I agree that the GENEVA should DROP him as their President”
    I have to say, I went to her recital few months ago at Queen Elizabeth Halls, I have never been to a piano recital as BORING and DULL in my all life, I wanted to quit after 5 minutes.
    And I am not saying anything about Vovka Ashkenazy playing…

    I think professional musicians should have :
    – Integrity
    – Musical talent

    Pascal Rogé has both, and I want to thank him ;

    • Thank you, Jonathan, for so clearly and explicitly demonstrating what I said earlier: to those who wish to hold creation prejudices, no fact stands in the way.

    • isn’t this a lot like killing innocent civilians during a war? the competitors as expendable pawns taken down in order to get into a position to challenge the powers that be.

      • readers of International Piano were treated to this quote recently:

        “questions of dignity, human values, of the beauty of man’s soul, of spiritual greatness concerned me not less, if not more, than the most beautiful sonata of Beethoven.”
        ….Heinrich Neuhaus

        • Quoting Neuhaus is… ugh. Whatever happened to the days where musicans were treated as simple craftsmen? Bach and his sons, Leopold Mozard, Quantz, Haydn all wrote and played music because it was their job, not because they ever dreamed it would be preserved and revered as some sort of ‘high art’ that it was never intended to be. All these competitions do is promote an unhealthy mentality about ‘classical music’ which has spawned an elitism which is completely inaccessible to the outside world. I read through Neuhaus’ book as I knew it would be relevant for my thesis and the amount of pretentious waffle in there is enough to make a level-headed person quit the profession if it really is a representation of the field (which it is). How many of these competitors have read the treatises of CPE Bach, Leopold Mozart, Quantz, Clementi, Czerny, Turk or Hummel? How much pre-romantic music gets played regardless? How many panelists have read these works? Neuhaus certainly never bothered to read them; it’s clearly evident in his book (“Inventions were written to develop a singing tone on the piano” – hilarious). Here’s an idea. Stop promoting competitions, tell everyone who is studying piano that they’ll get nowhere in life except on their own. Pianists need to stop relying on these breeding grounds for corruption and back-scratching which turn into a jury circus world tour and inadvertently become more about the old fogies than the actual competitors. Damn these things make my blood boil. And you all wonder why classical music is entirely funding-reliant these days? Oh, and stop playing C17 and C18 music until you’ve read the damn literature! – See more at: https://slippedisc.com/2014/10/monza-a-maligned-juror-responds/#comment-43400

          • Evan, you missed one of Neuhaus’ sly jokes

            a for music as a business, competitions already are associated with getting a job. this was said directly to me in a private conversation with the founder of a competition after I had voiced an objection to certain aspects of competitions to that very person.

            it’s a way to get some talent in the corral and party a little.

          • Quoting Neuhaus is …. ugh! ??? Not arrogant at all then. As for the rest of it – what are you on about?

    • [The marks being revealed by the competition does not change anything to the story.]
      Yes, it does. It changes everything, particularly in view of Pascal Rogé’s subsequent retraction.

      [Any professional musician knows MOST of the competitions are CORRUPTED
      and this is just a case among hundred others.]
      No they don’t. I am a PROFESSIONAL musician. Please do not make idiotic claims on my or anyone else’s BEHALF. If you are making these statements from personal experience, explain them and give provable details to the appropriate authorities.

      [I agree 100 percent with Pascal Rogé]
      It seems Pascal Rogé doesn’t any more, so perhaps in the light of that, you will change your mind as well?

      [and all pianists who are commenting against him should think about their integrity]
      I have been thinking about integrity all my professional life, have been publicly angrier than most at others’ lapses – when it was provable, that is – and have done my personal best to preserve mine. Do you know something about my integrity that you would like to share on here? Not that I was ‘commenting against him [Pascal Rogé], as – rather like yourself – I was not there, did not hear the candidates in question, and did not talk to the other jury members, so perhaps you didn’t include me in your idiotic implied accusation. However, I am not sure.

      [I see a lot of them in the comments who are themselves president or jury members….]
      Not really surprising that jury members and the president will attempt to answer these absurd accusations, is it?

      [A computer vote is just a very easy way to dissimulate a “mafia” acting…]
      Don’t quite understand that, but I am guessing you mean that the computer was used to lie about the jury’s individual marks. As they have now been publicised fully on the competition’s own website, that should be very easy to prove or otherwise. If it is proved that such criminal fraud was perpetrated, the Italian Police should, and I hope will, swoop, and the competition will be struck off by the W.F.I.M.C. If not, stop diminishing yourself with implications that you have no evidence of, and which belong more to a primary school playground than to a serious discussion.

      [By mafia, I want to say that in most competitions like this one nowadays, you always have few jury members that know each other before the competition, they have their favorite candidates and know what mark they should give to him/her to see him/her winning.] That is your definition of ‘mafia’ is it? And we are almost all part of it? Many jury members sit together on various juries, that is true. However, many meet for the first time when at a competition; I know the letter to be true because I have met many people for the first time when both of us were on a jury. However, the second time we meet on a jury, we do indeed know each other from before – not really preventable, is it? This does not mean we do favours for each other; anyone who did that would be despicable and I would be the first to try to expose it. What you say is a possibility, for sure, but, as I keep writing, I have never encountered it personally. And the original implication that it was the Italian Mafia who were behind this result was obviously pure fantasy and abject nonsense. I think maybe the Mafia have slightly bigger fish to fry than a piano competition in a town like Monza, don’t you?

      [And concerning Christina Ortiz,
      who says “I agree that the GENEVA should DROP him as their President”
      I have to say, I went to her recital few months ago at Queen Elizabeth Halls, I have never been to a piano recital as BORING and DULL in my all life, I wanted to quit after 5 minutes.]

      I do not share Cristina’s personal views about many things, and she knows this, but I defend her right, not to air them on the Internet, but to hold those views. She does for sure believe them herself and is not trying to manipulate anything, although, like anyone who feels passionately – including, on occasion, myself – she does try to rather forcefully bend others to her way of thinking. I also believe her to be an extremely talented pianist. She does also have the courage to write what she writes without hiding behind an anonymous name such as yours. If you found her recital as BORING and DULL as you say, it is a shame. [Just out of interest, why didn’t you leave after five minutes? Maybe because it wouldn’t really be fair to judge someone’s negatively so quickly? Doesn’t seem very consistent with the other things you write. Or did someone tie you to the seat?] However, even if it had been an execrable concert – I am sure it was not – please explain why it has any relevance to the issue. I would venture to say that anyone who is prepared to be so insulting as you have been towards her should at least have the courage to say who they are. What a perfect example of the downside of the Internet you comprise.

      [And I am not saying anything about Vovka Ashkenazy playing…] Oh good, because the same thing applies.

      [I think professional musicians should have :
      – Integrity] Agreed.
      [- Musical talent] Agreed.
      [Pascal Rogé has both, and I want to thank him ;] He certainly is a very fine pianist and musician, and his public retraction goes a long way towards indicating that he has integrity too. If his retraction was imbued with humility and deep sorrow that he had maligned competitors, jury members and competition organisers, plus an admission that what he did has unwittingly allowed an opportunity for the worst kind of anonymous unfounded abuse hurling, fuelled by ignorance, self-importance, paranoia and long-term grudges, it would further enhance one’s impression of his integrity.

      • “Quoting Neuhaus is …. ugh! ??? Not arrogant at all then. As for the rest of it – what are you on about?”

        Apologies, forgot to tie it all up. Regardling jury issues these days, my thoughts are that Jury’s are just lost at sea when judging early music. Early music (up until Schubert) makes up a large portion of competition-required repertoire, and honestly I’ve not met one modern pianist that has glanced at more than one of these texts. One wonders why there is such enormous discrepancies in the marks? I think this is a large part of the issue, as much as corruption. They just have no idea how to judge what they’re listening to. As for arrogance… have you read Neuhaus’ book? It is arrogance distilled into 300-odd pages of pretentious, opinionated, unsubstantiated garbage. As for competitions being corrupt and you requiring evidence… did you try googling “piano/violin/music competitions corruption” ? If you’d like some links or some stories regarding my own experiences, sure, i’d be happy to type a few up. All the best

        • [Early music (up until Schubert) makes up a large portion of competition-required repertoire]

          Yes, and it is a fair point that this can produce enormous discrepancies, but that is because there are many more approaches to music of earlier times; generally the further back in time one goes, the more interpretative decisions the performer has to make, as there is less in the way of specific instruction regarding tempo, dynamics, phrasing and other aspects of style – it is why earlier music is such a good test of a pianist’s basic cultural and musical grammar and instincts. The reason by and large is not because jury members are ignorant; some possibly are, inevitably, but they are usually on the juries of lesser competitions, in the same way as less good players are in lesser orchestras. Each competition must stand or fall on the strength or otherwise of its record of prize-winners, which basically reflects the quality of its jury members; each competition must therefore strive to attract members who are as honest, fair-minded, objective and as knowledgeable as possible.

          [honestly I’ve not met one modern pianist that has glanced at more than one of these texts.]

          Really? Who qualifies as a ‘modern pianist’? Teenagers? Under thirties? Do those who are merely still alive qualify? Do you ask them all if they have read those texts? Even if they haven’t, shouldn’t we respect basic gut responses to music-making on the basis of wider cultural experience than reading textual treatises?

          [They just have no idea how to judge what they’re listening to.]

          I have, thank you, and so have most of the people I have worked with.

          [As for arrogance… have you read Neuhaus’ book? It is arrogance distilled into 300-odd pages of pretentious, opinionated, unsubstantiated garbage.]

          I have indeed – many times over in fact. The first time I read it was about 38 years ago, and I have referred to it very regularly since. I have found it extremely enlightening. Whether or not I would have come to the conclusions I have about various aspects of piano-playing without reference to Neuhaus is impossible to say, but it has certainly shed light on many issues over the years. That is not to say that I agree with everything Neuhaus wrote.

          [As for competitions being corrupt and you requiring evidence… did you try googling “piano/violin/music competitions corruption” ?]

          I had not, but I have now; I did not find any concrete or even feasible real examples. What I did find was lots of references to gossip, another helping of – usually anonymous – unprovable accusations, and the reporting thereof, sometimes by writers with whom I am acquainted. I found myself, yet again, being lumped, along with my colleagues, together with the alleged corrupt teacher brigade, specifically with regard to the Tchaikovsky Competition, where I was a jury member in 2011 – this by a well-known British cellist. It would be libellous if anyone specific had been named, but, of course, they were not. viz: “These violin or piano competitions have specialist jurors, who are only violinists or pianists – they all know each other and know all their students and it just doesn’t work.

          “I think everyone knows when they go in for it that it’s a fix. I don’t understand why students keep going in for them because if they don’t know someone on the jury they’ll get knocked out in the first round.”

          Really? Again, merely suspicion of that may well sometimes be justified, but it does not apply to all competitions and all jury members.

          [you’d like some links or some stories regarding my own experiences, sure, i’d be happy to type a few up.]

          Go ahead, but put your name to them, and be prepared to substantiate them. Otherwise, cork it. Again, if you have provable examples, go to the proper authorities, and do something positive about it, instead of anonymously mud-slinging; the latter is self-defeating and futile.

  • *certain prejudices*

    (spell-check go and bother someone else)

    Mind you, in another forum, ‘creation prejudices’ might get a role.

  • What about facebook??
    Why on earth 6 adjudicators out of 8 are facebook friends between them? Why some of the candidates (and maybe some of the prize winners…) are facebook friends with sometimes 3, 4 adjudicators?
    Maybe one should not judge a candidate in a competition when they are facebook friend each other?
    A perfect piano competition would be when adjudicators don’t know each other, and don’t know the candidates. (of course a candidate could know 1 or 2 adjudicators…but half of them, it is a lot!)
    All best wishes,

  • Facebook is indeed an issue. I have already mentioned elsewhere that being a Facebook ‘friend’ sometimes precludes one from voting either way for that pianist. Even if not, I would suggest that it should be. Quite a few Facebook friends of mine are people I have already heard in competitions – but only after the event. If they re-appear in further competitions on which I am a jury member, there are concerns. The fact that, in the majority of cases, Facebook friends have no more contact than just being on that list is irrelevant. It should really be discouraged. Facebook users, please take note.

  • I think it is time for me to repeat yet again something that is important to say. Then I have finished with this, as it is descending into ridiculousness:

    It is inevitable that corruption exists, as we are only human with human weaknesses. Where it has been perpetrated, it should be exposed and dealt with in the most extreme way possible. i.e. if it is the competition organisers who are corrupt, the competition should held accountable for fraud, ejected from the W.F.I.M.C. and publicly exposed, as they are dealing with the lives of young people, conning the public and misusing both public and private funds. If it is individual jury members who are cynically manipulating the system, the same should apply to them, and the competition organisers should be in the vanguard of those exposing them.

    However, it has never happened in my personal experience, including when I was a competitor myself. I have never been the outright winner of any competition since I was eleven years old, and of course I was disappointed – who wouldn’t be? It may well be that the respective juries were right, and it may also be that they were wrong. They may have been stupid, or they may have been sorry and subject to a marking system that didn’t work properly – I will never know, and, as in the long term I have always been extremely lucky in my work, I do not wish to know.

    What I do know is that I was never eliminated from the earlier rounds of any competition and always made the finals, which in itself is very lucky and I am very thankful for it indeed; the point being that in no case was my teacher or his friends involved, I did not bribe anyone, I never sought lessons with jury members, and, if anyone on any of the respective juries was manipulating things against me, they didn’t do a very good job.

    Since then I have been on many juries myself. I have occasionally encountered prejudice – both artistic and racial – stupidity, arrogance, amateurishness, marking systems that were bound to throw up anomalies, and many results that seem to belie the apparent honesty of the jury members. I have never, repeat, never encountered deliberate manipulation or corruption. Again, I do not deny that it happens, as I have no way of knowing, but I have not experienced it, and if I ever do, I will do whatever I can about it. That will not include making rash statements on the Internet which I then have to retract – in fact it will not involve the Internet at all.

    I have also encountered many jury members who have had the long term interests of the competitors and of the art of music-making at heart, who have been tearful – including myself by the way – at the point when eliminations had to be announced; sometimes when they cannot themselves imagine how it was possible that certain competitors were eliminated. I have also encountered far too often the way that a jury’s decision is rendered embarrassing by the tendency amongst some competitors to only prepare the first round, not expecting to play any further repertoire, which makes them sound hopeless next to some of those who have been eliminated, and leaves the jury with faces the colour of a tomato.

    There are a great many things that could be modified and tweaked to improve the way competitions are run. But in the final analysis, the motive behind them must surely be – and as far as I can ever tell, is – to help young people make a start in their careers – that is surely why we become teachers and jury members alike, and why organisers create competitions in the first place. If not, they will be found out, however long it takes. But they must be found out and rejected from the musical community in a proper way – not by irresponsible anonymous sniping and character assassination, with an untold number of victims of the sort of collateral damage they cause.

      • Thani you for your words Vovka. The experience for you and the rest of the jury, the organisers, and particularly the competitors, must have been terrible.

          • The first two nights were pretty horrible, but after we began to realize that Pascal Rogé had probably, and quite inadvertently, enhanced the reputation of the Monza Competition and its jurors, we started sleeping much better…….

          • Evan: please. Can you not get second balancing chip for your other shoulder and give it a rest?

            The process of eliminating young artists from the various rounds of a competition is often heart-breaking; I have felt it myself [in fact, a photo of me appeared online, taken when I had tears in my eyes when the results of the first round of one competition for which I was a jury member were being announced], and I have seen it in the faces of other jury members. The appalling events in Monza would have added far more levels of angst to the way the jury members felt. Yes, there are some hard-hearted people around too, but no one at all shrugs it off because they don’t care, and it is silly to imagine they would or even could.

  • This whole thing has gone on for long enough, and I will not be writing any more. My questions were rhetorical, so please, no one need reply. Back to work now….

    • You all claim how heartbreaking its etc..blah blah. Basically then you should have NOTHING whatsoever to do with competitions then. It’s all a sham to try and judge art like it’s gymnastics. Quite frankly, as a classical music listener, it makes me lose respect for each and every one of you who takes the money and publicity from your cushy judging jobs, makes a few banal comments that makes it seem as if you have a heart; and then you run. It’s grotesque.

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  • Competitions are a good thing, they are not a necessary evil. What should we do? Give everyone a participation award, say there are no differences? Everyone is equal? There are no poor pianists, no bad musicians? Is that the world you want to live in? Well that world doesn’t exist.

    Art and music can and should be judged. It’s ALWAYS judged, even by all you posters here feigning such self-righteousnous, the hypocrisy is amazing. It’s ridiculous to shy away from official competitions, again read my above paragraph, should all aspiring musicians be allowed to perform equally regardless of talent?

    The competitions are just like democratic 1st world countries, NOT perfect, but not laden with corruption either, and just about the best system you have available now. Of course there are biases, it is IMPOSSIBLE for jurors not to be biased. But this idea of rampant corruption is just delusional.

    Unfortunately what we’re seeing here is the way of thinking that the Western world is cruising towards: egalitarianism. Meritocracy is fast becoming a thing of the past. Competition, and the acknowledgement of it’s value, is the only thing that can save us.

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