Video: Tchaikovsky Competition whitewashes its history

Video: Tchaikovsky Competition whitewashes its history


norman lebrecht

December 16, 2014

They’ve been digging out old Soviet video and recycling it in a new documentary, using the old politicised commentary without a smidgeon of detachment. Who knew, for instance, that in 1966 there was a fashion for ‘intellectual’ violin playing that caused David Oistrakh’s students to miss out on first prize?




Watch in wonder.



  • Mark Stratford says:

    ==fashion for ‘intellectual’ violin playing that caused David Oistrakh’s students to miss out on first prize?

    And only the other day one of the Lydia M. obituaries quoted her saying what a great intellect Oistrakh had !

  • Jewelyard says:

    Could you provide a link??

  • sandy says:

    Well, it’s just words because Wargaftik just needed to say something about the fact that not Oistrakh’s student took the first prize. Anything would do. Didn’t we expect that they would describe all the under-the-carpet games Oistrakh vs. Jankelevich, moscow school vs.leningrad school, soviets vs.foreigners? or we did? Oistrakh is an idol of thousands, indeed.

  • Milka says:

    As a foot note — not one winner
    has added anything to the art of the
    violin . All circus performers ……

  • M2N2K says:

    One notable exception to milka’s dismissal is the winner of the first prize in 1970 – the most unique and interesting violin-playing musician of the last four decades Gidon Kremer.

  • M2N2K says:

    The narration in the clip is rather silly. The implied suggestion that Tretyakov was more “intellectual” than Kagan and Krysa is downright ludicrous. If anything, exactly the opposite may be true. Unless, perhaps, if “intellectual” is understood as inexpressive.

  • Anna says:

    Actually I did not understand what exactly Mr Vargaftik wanted to say although Russian is my mother language. Yes, Viktor Tretiakov won this competition, so what? He is a wonderful musician and played fantastically at the competition, here you are. What a rubbish is all this story about “intellectual violin playing”?! There was no word about it, just the constatation of fact that Tretiakov was a winner. And Grigory Sokolov with his 15 years was surely not the first “intellectual” in the competition 😉 He won exactly because of his virtuosity and thanks to the choice of the 2nd piano concerto by Saint-Saens that the president of the jury Emil Gilels loved so much. So please stop spreading a rubbish about “intellectual playing”, it is only the completely useless idea typical for almost all the musical critics and musicologists like Mr Vargaftik. They are not able to create anything on stage, so they are trying to remain in the story spreading gossips and stupid ideas. All the winner of old Tchaikovsky Competitions remained in the story of musical performing, all of them deserved their prizes – so let us just say “thank you” to them and to the members of juries, great musicians from over the world, that have made possible to those young musicians to make a career.