Zakhar Bron stacks finals with his own pupils. Again.

Zakhar Bron stacks finals with his own pupils. Again.


norman lebrecht

January 26, 2015

We had assurances that the first Boris Goldstein violin competition, organised in his own teacher’s memory by the virtuoso teacher Zakhar Bron, would be entirely clean and transparent.

boris goldstein



Yeah, right.

Nine of the 14 finalists are Bron students.

Additionally, although Ida Haendel is listed as one of the judges we’ve heard from her that she was never invited. How transparent is that?



  • Darren says:

    Surprise, surprise.

    May I suggest a duo violin and piano competition? Judges would be Bron, Veda Kaplinsky and Arie Vardi. Just a thought.

  • Nando von Allmen says:

    Dear Norman

    Your post is incredible and ridiculous.

    1. you can watch all videos from each candidate on our website (every single minute), how transpartent is that?

    2. we did invite you to attend the competition here in Berne to write about it. You did not accept our invitation, we don’t know why. Our goal was to invite as many journalists as possible to report about the competition. How transparent is that?

    3. Ida Haendel was invited long time ago and accept our invitation. She couldn’t attend finally because of spezial problems. I will ask her personal friend to clarify this situation on this website. That’s really incredible and also against the other great jury members and pedagogues such as Prof Pikayzen, Kless or Ozim.

    I invite everybody to watch the videos on our website and write a substantiated judgement.
    Your post is far away from being professional or substantiated.

    Nando von Allmen
    Director of the competition

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Bron has a history of presiding over competitions that are won by his students. It looks like that history is repeating itself in this supposedly transparent event. There is, I agree, nothing professional about such outcomes. NL

    • Tim says:

      What do you expect.

      ANY competitions where the people taking part are pupils of the jury is FIXED & CORRUPT

      These competitions and people like Bron should be treated with the total contempt they deserve

      You are all a joke

      • Peter Kalker says:

        it´s allready a shame that 1 pupil of Mr. Bron takes part in the competition while being president of the Jury.

        This is a scandal.

  • Not a Bron-student says:

    Dear Mr. Allmen,

    why dont you explain us, why 9 out of 14 participants are Bron students? Do you find this morraly right? Instead of attacking Norman and presenting yourself very aggresiv and unprofessional you should think about the image your comeptition is sending out to the music world. Bron has not many friends and this is exactly the reason.
    You talk about other jurie members like Prof. Kless. Maestro Kless himself was complaining how poor Prof. Bron was acting as jury member at the Wieniawski. Apparently he was forcing each jury member to vote for his own students. If Mr. Kless would have some guts, he would stand up to Bron and stop being his puppet.
    I dont need to tell you to check the history of Wieniawski and Novosibirsk competitions where each time Bron students are sharing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize. And this is exactly the reason why Prof. Bron is not a jury member of any large competition anymore. Not Brussels, not Sibelius, not Varga, not Tchaikovsky, not Indianapolis, not Menuhin, not Hannover, not Lipizer and and and!!!!! Therefor he created the Goldstein competition. A living pedagogical legend has ruined his late career because of his dishonoarble and disgusting behaviour!
    What kind of teacher forces his own students to fight against each other? We are not in the Soviet Union. Todays teachers should try to create a good atmoshere in the class and be an example to the students. There is enough competition and dirt outside the class. Leave them alone Jesus Christ!

    • sandy says:

      “What kind of teacher forces his own students to fight against each other”
      what I can remember an once, it was Auer, for instance, who organized the 1st Auer competition in SPburg in 1910something – there were four participants, all of them his students, Mikhail Piastro took the first prize.
      More close to our times is Oistrakh, who brought his two students, Kremer and Milanova, to participate in QE-1967, while he was a jury member (it didn’t work that time, the first prize was caught by Hirshhorn).
      Not concerning Bron. It’s just some episodes from the history.

  • David says:

    Mr Lebrecht,I want to ask you few things :

    Did you personally speak to Ida Handel?

    Did you ever ask yourself about some last competitions like Long-Thibaut (Where E.Grach and his ex student A.Baeva were in jury and Grach’s student won it), Queen Elizabeth (Where P.Amoyal was in Jury and his student has won it),Hannover comeptition (K.Wegrzyn in jury and his student wins) Indianapolis competition with M.Fried and her students,etc.

    And in Las Wienawski competition in Lublin the Senior winner was not a Bron student and he was a president of jury.
    So what about he being manipulating other jury members like Mr.Kless?
    And why then Mr.Kless comes to Goldstein Competition if he was “complaining “?

    Did you ever ask yourself that only in last year Bron’s student won few competition without Bron being there?
    Like S.Tarara won Enesu competition and like F.Roudin won Valsesia and Henri Marteau competition?

    So what about it all?

    You people just don’t want to accept that Prof Bron is an amazing professor and is a 150% workcoholic that starts teaching at 10.00 and finishing at 23.00.
    You don’t want to accept that teaching is his life and the number of his students around the world is so big that you have to ask yourself a question :
    Why all the violinist are dreaming to come to study with him?

    Start living your life and let the other ones living theirs!

  • Tim says:

    If Bron had any musical Morals at all he would put the following in the rules of the competition.

    No one who has been a pupil of any the the judges within the last 12 months can participate in the competition.

    If this rule can be applied at an International Piano Competition in Birmingham (UK) then it can be applied anywhere.

    Come on Bron show some backbone and get ethical for once.

  • FormerStarkerStudent says:

    Thanks Janos Starker to refuse all your lifetime to participate as a member of the jury in any competition!

  • Maria says:

    While many allege “fixed” results (in any competition) it is not at all clear that this was the case on this particular occasion. The following reasons leave room enough for doubt:

    1) An accurate video of the entire competition is available and documented for those that have energy enough to watch it rather than just complain and raise alarm

    2) Mr. Lebrecht himself was invited to observe the competition and comment upon it, but did not/or could not find the time to go. Instead, Mr. Lebrecht chooses to make depreciating although timely comments (that increase his ratings nevertheless) following the finals. Till this day he remains silent towards the criticism thrown at him by the competition officials. PERHAPS I MISSED MR. LEBRECHT’S “SPECIFIC'” CRITICISMS… BUT WHAT EXACTLY DID HE NOT APPRECIATE ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE OF THE NINE CANDIDATES (Zakhar Bron students)?

    3) While it is true that the majority of the finalists were from Mr. Bron’s studio, it is also true that many of his students produce very consistently solid results. Once again a video documenting the competition is available for anyone with enough energy to watch it.

    It is painful to see the hard work of so many people ridiculed with suspicions in order to make a particular journalist’s ratings or to feed the under appreciated mainstream egos. It would certainly not be the first time that Mr. Lebrecht plays the role of an alarmist in the musical world. While I normally enjoy his comments and wit immensely, I feel that in this particular case it is unfair to raise allegations without SPECIFIC musical examples to back up his claims.

    Lastly, I feel it should be added that various musical journals had nothing but praise for this competition. Anyone that feels injured by the competition’s results should first watch the videos to make sure that he or she knows what they are talking about… and then use SPECIFIC examples to back up their points rather then just whine in order to gain attention and sympathy.

    Please… Let’s first respect fellow musicians, our colleagues and their work to make the world a beautiful place.

    Best wishes.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      We respect musicians, Ms Maria-from-upstate-NY. We don’t respect rigged competitions where the losers are left shamed and much the poorer so that a president can give rewards to his own students. That kind of conduct does not make the world a beautiful place.

  • Maria says:

    Indeed this kind of a conduct would not make the world a better place.

    However, with all due respect, I must say that specific musical examples from the video/competition are necessary in order to make any allegations. We are not a society that condones conviction without proof. Last I checked, the burden of proof lays with the accuser. Baseless accusations do not make the world a beautiful place.
    My warmest regards.

  • Maria says:

    For the sake of accuracy, some fact corrections regarding this competition were published as well in the Strad as well. Warmest regards.