Breaking: English pianist, 16, wins top French competition

Breaking: English pianist, 16, wins top French competition


norman lebrecht

October 28, 2015

The Long-Thibaud-Crespin competition ended a few minutes ago with a shock result.

The jury, led by Stephen Kovacevich, withheld first prize.

The secon prize went to Julian Trevelyan, a 16 year-old English pianist.

Julian also won best concerto awarrd for his Bartok 3rd.

That young man is going up in the world (and you read it here first).

julian trevelyan

Full results:

Premier Grand Prix-Groupe Casino 25 000 €
(non décerné)

Deuxième Grand Prix-Marguerite Long 12 000 €
Julian Trevelyan, 16 ans (Royaume-Uni)

Troisième Grand Prix-Ville de Nîmes 6 000 €
Kaoru Jitsukawa, 26 ans (Japon)

Quatrième Prix-Groupe Henner 4 000 €
Joo Hyeon Park, 27 ans (Corée du sud)

Cinquième Prix « Albert Roussel » décerné par l’amicale de l’Ecole normale
de musique de Paris 3 000 €
Madoka Fukami, 27 ans (Japon)

Sixième Prix-Marguerite Long 2 000
Daria Kiseleva, 26 ans (Russie)



Prix de SAS Albert II de Monaco (pour la meilleure interprétation du concerto) 6 100 €
Julian Trevelyan

Prix de la Sacem (pour la meilleure interprétation de l’œuvre commandée par le concours) 3 000 €
Kaoru Jitsukawa

Prix de l’Association des amis du concours (pour la meilleure interprétation du récital) 3 000 €
Kaoru Jitsukawa

Prix Fondation Ravel (pour la meilleure interprétation d’une œuvre de Ravel) 6 000 €
Madoka Fukami


  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    I listened to the first three – Beethoven III, Ravel G major and Prokofiev I. Sadly didn’t have time to stay and listen to Julian’s Bartok. The Ravel was terribly approximate and not helped by the orchestra or conductor. Beethoven fine, Prokofiev respectable. Good for the lad with the Cornish name.

  • Philip Amos says:

    I’m just wondering why no first prize being awarded is now a shock. Was it similarly a shock when it happened at the Tchaik Violin in 2011? What about the Seoul International Violin this very year? The Chopin Piano in 1990? The Naumberg Violin in 1984? The Leventritt in…well, I’m just summoning up a few examples of this not very uncommon outcome. Heaven knows how many others might emerge if time allowed — and was worth expending on this, which it isn’t. There’s nothing shocking about it unless, of course, you just KNOW that Trevelyan should have got first prize. I’m rather more inclined to trust that exceptionally fine jury. Your header, in light of the result, may be seen as a touch misleading. Getting second prize when no first prize is awarded may not be the best way to launch a career. He may well go up in the world, in which case I’ll try to remember I read that here first. I’ll also remember if he just fizzles out. All that has to do with managers and recording companies, for whom talent is way down low on their list of criteria.

    • Jeffrey Biegel says:

      Good points, Philip. Usually, the winner of second prize simply adds ‘Top Prize Winner in the…’ to their bio. When I was in Long-Thibaud in 1989, I shared Premier Grand Prix with a dear friend, so it all depends on the talent pool that year, the jury’s combined tallies and the jury decision to uphold a trending tradition of playing level over the years. Regarding post-competition career, there are too many variables to dictate one’s future course. It is not only a result of record companies and managers, but more-so the artist’s ability to create their own career course through repertoire, contacts, friendships and special projects.

    • M2N2K says:

      The way I understand the headline is that the shocking part of the results is not that no first prize was awarded but that the top prize went to a 16-year-old, especially considering that all his main rivals were at least a full decade older.

      • Philip Amos says:

        Well, could be. On t’other hand, the “shock” is actually in the first line of the text, not the headline, so just applying logic, one might think that the second line of text explains the shock. But that’s the problem with so many of NL’s posts: His mucking around to sensationalize a “breaking” news release turns reading posts into an exercise in hermeneutics.

        • Philip Amos says:

          And now I look at it again, rather as if I’m poring over a 2nd. Century Ebonite text, it occurs to me that NL may be trying to whip up a bit of fuss over the fact that an ENGLISH pianist sort of won a FRENCH competition; in which case, he must have forgotten the constitution of the jury. Getting a grip on ‘Mornington Crescent’ is easier than sorting out this piffle.

  • Christophe Huss says:

    Obviously nobody won !

    If there is ONE message the jury wanted to send out it was this one.
    But it seemed to be not clear enough…

    Btw, if nobody was up to the standard to be a “Long-Thibaud winner” it may be because Chopin Competition had 80 candidates who automaticaly could not apply to this competition…

  • Rosemary Ellis says:

    Congrats to this young man. Looking through the Leeds International Competition brochure recently there appeared to be many names of winners who are now unknown, while others winning 4, 5 or 6th prize are still out there doing. Interesting to see Joo Hyeon Park getting a prize when he didn’t get through to the semi-finals in Leeds in September. Judging is all very subjective – whether they like the interpretation and performance style, and also on the standard and style of the other competitors.

  • All Keyed Up says:

    No competition prize, no record company, and no manager can help a solo artist to succeed unless the conductors want to engage that soloist. Whether any musical performer will have a career is strictly up to the conductors, period.

    • Philip Amos says:

      Except, of course, that the managerial agency conglomerates each also controls a mighty great armful of the conductors, with the conductors they have a fat thumb stuck in the business of orchestras, some also are in a viper’s tangle with recording companies, and plenty of them find devious ways to keep music journalists on a retainer.

      • All Keyed Up says:

        Such gimmicks & manipulations only work for the short-term. Sooner or later, reality bites — and the cream rises to the top. Record companies are a veritable grave-yard for the 7-day wonders, as are managerial rosters.

  • Tony Milne says:

    Well, it’s a shame that no-one commenting so far actually saw Julian play.
    The jury denied him top prize because it is fashionable to do so and saved the organisers, who pay the jury, €25,000. They know which side their bread is buttered.
    NL is so far the only journalist to publish anything on this story. Julian, by the way, has won at three competitions this year, all abroad, not bad for a Brit. i haven’t found anyone that successful in the last 30 years.
    Perhaps the country would be more successful in producing competitive and exciting pianists if its population was more interested in piano competitors than in a chocolate Santa Claus.

  • Jose says:

    Again, I don’t understand the obsession of producing factually incorrect headlines. In what way is being awarded 2nd prize synonymous with winning? Not for one second am I trying to diminish this fantastic achievement of his, but this is very bad journalism from a source that appears to be so committed to transparency and honesty in competitions.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      He won the highest prize that was given.He was deemed superior to all other contenders. The headline is accurate and you are offensive.

      • Jose says:

        I sincerely apologise if I have offended. That was certainly not my aim. I, too, am offended by much of the material that is published here about competitions. However, I still appreciate the content produced here because I respect one’s right to express their views. This is irrespective of how popular/unpopular or offensive/inoffensive those views are. Back to my point, being awarded the highest prize doesn’t mean that someone has won the competition. All it means is that no one has defeated them. This is an important distinction to make. Think about it this way, if a competition involves scoring a goal, and no one scores a goal, then the person that comes closest is not recognised as the winner. The same principle applies here.

  • Morgan Hayes says:

    Julian is an outstanding pianist. I heard him play some piano music by Milton Babbitt on Friday.

  • Tony Milne says:

    Julian Trevelyan will play many more times this year – check out his programme at:
    make sure you see him, while he is still cheap.
    He will be playing the the BBC Young Musician of the Year contest, and is a finalist in the keyboard category.