Competition scam: Zakhar Bron students win all prizes at his competition

Competition scam: Zakhar Bron students win all prizes at his competition


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2015

As we predicted, the result of the Boris Goldstein competition, reported tonight, was a foregone conclusion. All six prizes went to current students of the competition founder and president, Zakhar Bron. The losers have a right to feel aggrieved.

In the words of the late Mae West: ‘Goodness, dearie, had nothing to do with it.’

boris goldstein



  • Milka says:

    The losers are probably all his students if not will soon be …and will go on to win
    prizes he will award … one can only believe there is not an honest bone in all
    these competitions… it amazes what these brainless fiddlers will do to get ahead in an art form that at present is as dead as queen Anne. The Lebrecht prediction was spot on as
    was the Mae West observation.

  • Terence says:

    I don’t agree the art form is dead – it’s alive and well.

    However, there are unreasonable expectations out there in Conservatories.

    Music students: take your cue from History and Philosophy students. Even before they enter tertiary education, very few expect to be historians or philosophers, and even fewer end up so being.

  • Peter Rowland says:

    Maybe corrupt, maybe not, but who cares?
    Let me know if something like this happens at Queen Elizabeth, Tchaikovsky, or Indianapolis.

    • withheld says:

      Almost the same thing happened in QE 2012…student & teaching assistant of a jury member won!
      & about the Indianapolis: just look at the competition’s website 😉

  • Michael Guttman says:

    Not So Norman…It may seem so from the outside…But as a jury member, i can say that the real scandal was that we couldn’t allow MORE Bron students in the finals, so high was their level of playing.This was a perfect warm up for the upcoming QE or Sibelius competitions,so why didn’t we see more candidates from Juilliard ,Bloomington or Curtis? travel expenses? Maybe, but there was nobody from the Queen Elizabeth Chapelle, and that’s only a train ride away…The US institutions should think of allocating money for the purpose of sending their best students to international competitions, and/or, inviting Bron to teach and be inspired by his demand for excellence and his ability to give almost fail-proof solutions to technical problems.He also,revived the memory of the Great Boris Goldstein with this competition, a noble and generous gesture on his part,and that should also be
    underlined! If his students benefited from this endeavour, so be it.Nothing unfair about that.He passes on the ideal of the “Golden Tone” that Goldstein was famous for, and as a former Goldstein student in Germany, after my Juilliard years,i’m happy to see this legacy upheld. Now about competitions per se when you see that the Top 5 performers in the USA have never entered any competition makes one think…Best Regards.

  • Walter Delahunt says:

    The “loser” in the final round was Benjamin Baker, NOT one of his students. Benjamin is a fabulous violinist.

  • Milka says:

    Poor Michael Guttman what else could he write ? the response being so self
    serving it parallels the competition . He knows on what side the bread is buttered .
    “Passing on the golden tone” sums up the thinking going on here. Laughable at best.

    • Michael Guttman says:

      Dear”Milka”, i’d love to have a good laugh with you if you didn’t hide poetically your identity… Are you a swiss Chocolatier?..
      More seriously, the “Golden tone”for you which Goldstein was famous (every crappy violin sounded great in his hands) was a comment on B Goldstein and has little to do with the results of the competition.
      In every generation, there is a pedagogue that attracts the best talents, already well technically equipped to their studio,Galamian,Dorothy Delay, J Gingold come to mind, specially after the successes of other students at major competitions. Kyung Wha Chung and P Zukerman shared the 1rst prize at the Leventrit, and there was no word of a “Galamian scam”..Bron benefited from this phenomenon after the early resounding successes of Vadim Repin, Maxim Vengerov and Daishin Kajimoto.
      If there have been lapses in the publicising of this competition, and therefore giving the Bron students a statically higher chances of getting through to the finals, i cannot say, but will inquire! Best regards.

      • Milka says:

        Mr. Guttman a little less staring at four strings and to broaden your horizons “Milka”
        is a given name , I know that for some the name is used as a take on the world of chocolates, but just to give you a heads up . In recalling violin history
        one remembers the person who often was called the greatest violinist of our times didn’t have much of an opinion of either Delay or Galamian , that often a good player
        heads for a famous name teacher not to learn but to get on the fast track of getting a career going . The Leventrit is hardly worth a bother and the two players you mention do not fit my criteria as “artists” of any standing . I do believe that Repin the further he gets away from the Bron influence the better he is – Vengerov on the other hand is hopeless .
        There are hundreds competing for a piece of the pie ,many superb technicians but
        while playing the violin well few if any make music,and if you ever heard Bron play
        you would understand how this reflects on the art and the type of player that wins favor.

  • Jim Hutton violin Rlpo says:

    As a humble 2nd violin player with 40 yrs experience I find all of the situation very amusing and quite sad we all aim for perfection and some get very near but I feel sorry for the kids who don’t make it, there’s more to life than just trying to outdo everyone else on the violin try enjoying life and don’t beat yourself up too much, accept that there are always better players out there

    Just don’t screw yourself up in the process!!!!

  • Michael Guttman says:

    Hi Walter! Ben really didn’t “lose”, he will remain as a prize winner,a Laureate,
    and that’s what matters at the end.A wonderful Musician AND violinist , i agree.

    • Walter Delahunt says:

      Yes Michael, sorry. Ben just told me he got 6th prize. I was influenced by the caption that only Bron students got prizes.

  • Eugene says:

    The only competition I ever participated in which had a pleasant atmosphere and at least a “feeling” of a fair result was at the Fritz Kreisler where no students of jury members were allowed to participate, full stop. I think that is the only way forward to encourage fairness.

    To also be fair to jurors out there, I think blatant mafia tactics like rigging and vote trading is actually less prevelant than many might think. The thing is, if it’s your own student out there competing, the output of your work, your “violin baby” out there on the stage… it’s just entirely natural that you prefer them and that you want them to succeed.
    It’s just human.

    So cutting out this natural behaviour by enacting a ban on students of jury members is one huge step in the right direction.

  • Mary says:

    Hello to everyone!!! I would just ask to the persons who comment-please dont you dare judge if you were not at least listening at least every performance in the audience on the web-page. I was listening every performance from the final round. The level was extremely high and i think the Jury was fair and completely correct. Conserning Beker, he played good Brahms concerto, he had a chanse to win maybe third or forth prize, but his Mozart the next day was realy low comparing with the others, and that you can hear on the page. Both winners, Semenenko and Tarara played wonderfull, realy high class, and Mone is a prodigy with a complete perfection and she deserved Grand prix because she played all the repertoire with exelence, what you can also find on the page. Please try to be realistic and admitt when something is good and maybe better than yourself in the moment, not leting ego and jelousy get in the way of becoming better person.

  • Erik says:

    Quite wrong.. Milka Milka..tell us all your real name. Don’t be shy or afraid of what or who you are. It’s ok, that you a frustrated untalented violinist. Not to mention musician. Are you a teacher with bad pupils or a really bad student or sitting in the back of a really bad orchestra? Did life not treat you right? Do you feel underestimated? One thought, wherever you are now in life, is exactly where you deserve to be and where you belong.

    • Milka says:

      There must be a medical term for people who ask questions and then answer their own questions with endless suppositions bordering on irrational hysteria .Paranoia comes to mind .

      • Erik says:

        There must be a general term for frustrated violinist like you..I assume, not talented and/or lazy.
        In that case, I take your answer as an yes to all my predictions.
        Just one question remains: who are you? Many violinist reading this, would love to know. Milka Milka…
        Tell me who you are and I am sure, we will have lot of serious discussions. As long, you don’t pick up the fiddle I guess. Then it will become comedy I am sure.

        • Ash Maltenovsky says:

          Well done Erik. Rudely making assumptions about an individual’s life is a great way to disprove their argument. One’s opinion as to the honesty of a competition has nothing to do with the person making these remarks. Milka had the full right to use her first name only; seeing as you’re rather keen on abusing her I can only commend Milka’s choice to remain semi anonymous. Accusing someone of lazyness and mocking their talent is ridiculously low, especially when it has nothing to do with the original question. Then again, people usually accuse others of what they’re guilty of themselves.

          • Erik says:

            Funny Statement Ash. I would guess, you fall into the same category. What’s your opinion about the real topic? Really curious. I guess, quite the same as chocolate. I guess, you feel strong, defending somebody who is actually in her/his anonymity attacking hard working people here all the time. I am not trying to disprove anything. This Milka person is a fail and I want to take away her/his pleasure of writing her/his depressed comments. Not deserved. Abuse? You should be careful what you write Ash. It’s not “her” choice as you seem to know “her” identity. I am not accusing “her”, I am sure it is that way. Otherwise, she wouldn’t dare to comment like that. And your last clever sentence is not really true. I will google you. Will see, if that sentence is maybe true in your case. If that’s your real name. Anyway. you, Milka, and all other chocolates out there, respect the hard working talented people and just stay in the hole where you came from and where you belong. Don’t annoy people. Actually, I am just wasting time here. But if somebody writes in such rude way as “her”, she should stand up with her true identity to her words. It would show once in her miserable life some strong character. If not, it just reflects her weak, untalented, depressed lazy character.

  • Erik says:

    My picture represents all musicians, after hearing you play for some seconds… That’s the face everybody would do. I am sure. Funny, isn’t it?

  • Erik says:

    You don’t seem to exist. Probably it’s Milka other identity. Her savior, who doesn’t exists. So funny

  • milka says:

    Ash , I suspect on your reading Eric’s response you may perhaps come to the conclusion
    that there seems to be an underlying problem here which has little to do with music .”You Milka and the other chocolates out there … etc. ” and the clown face tells more than one
    wants to deal with . Incidentlly I am not a failed or frustrated violinist .Best

  • Jose says:

    The title of this article is indisputably and objectively false. Benjamin Baker, a prizewinner of the competition, is not a student of Bron. Shameful reporting. One should take greater care when publishing such articles. Fascinating to see how some people are prepared to sell false stories in an attempt to judge, impose shame on others and feel they may have some sort of moral high ground.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      You may wish to check your sources.

      • Jose says:

        May you please send me, or at least tell me, where I can find a source stating that Benjamin Baker is a student of Bron? The Strad and sources on the Violin Channel both state otherwise. Personally, having studied with his teacher, I have also never heard of anything suggesting that it is the case that he is/was his student at the time.

      • Jose says:

        Still waiting for the sources…….