Yuri Simonov has been describing how, in 1968, he became the first Soviet conductor to win an international competition.
‘My Leningrad professor NS Rabinovich, knowing I had been selected as a substitute candidate, offered me a brisk farewell: “Just be happy to spend a few days in Rome, walking through the streets, conducting the Academy of Santa Cecilia, and return home full of unforgettable memories.” Seeing the surprise on my face Nikolai Semenovich repeated his homily, three more times.
‘He was a wise man. Unlike my two senior colleagues, I went into the competition not as a hazardous test, but as an unexpected vacation. Conducting one of the best Italian orchestras, I felt joy, boyish excitement and … no fear!’