Major violin contest is fixed by the usual suspects

Major violin contest is fixed by the usual suspects


norman lebrecht

October 03, 2018

The first International Violin Competition Viktor Tretyakov has yielded no surprises.

First prize went to Sergey Dogadin, a student of jury member Boris Kuschnir.

Second prize was shared between Chisa Kitagawa, student of jury member Takashi Shimizu, and Runyin Zhang, who studies with jury member Vera Tsu Weiling.

Kuschnir had previously helped Dogadin to win the Joachim competition.

Like most major violin competitions, the Tretyakov is discredited from the outset.

How do these professors get away with it?



  • Michael Endres says:

    Cassical music is a business like any other, hence we witness corruption, political games, Kardashian style vanities, the incessant fight for power and influence, alas the whole saga of what happens in any other trade.
    There is no higher moral compass at work here, but of course pointing towards its shortcomings is needed and welcome.
    ( For the seekers of true spirituality I recommend getting a cat, it’s an excellent investment in one’s well-being. )

  • MacroV says:

    I wonder what the point of all this is. So many competitions, what is the value of winning one, especially if it’s known that the winner is a student of a juror?

    Is there any competition these days that can lead to a solo career? Maybe the QE, Tchaikovsky, or Indianapolis? Or maybe a stack of wins/placings is good for the resume.

    • Bruce says:

      I think the most a competition — any competition — can do these days is help someone get a foot in the door. Any more, there’s hardly such thing as a “major” recording label, and the ones that could still lay claim to that title (DG, Sony-I-guess… any others?) have nowhere near the influence they used to have. A recording, even on a major label, can’t make you famous any more even if it’s good.

      Likewise, winning a competition can’t make you famous any more, even if it’s a big one. It opens the door a crack, and if you can force the door open then you have a chance. (Trifonov, for example, got his shot from winning the Tchaikovsky, but if he hadn’t galvanized audiences when he played in public, he’d be another anonymous competition winner now.)

      But people still try to use the competition as a path to a career, even as the chances that winning will help them achieve their goal grow smaller and smaller…

  • David Burnett says:

    This competition was not fixed! Especially since it was Live Streamed, anyone can watch and judge for themselves. I know several of the judges and Maestro Tretyakov. The winners won fair and square. Maybe you might not like the first prize winner, but he is extremely talented! But say this was fixed because a few of the students studied with a member of the jury is not fair. The judges did not use their influence to judge the outcome.

  • Jim says:

    Selective outrage. The 3 prizewinners of the esteemed ARD viola competition in Munich all studied with jury members, 2 of them with the president, but there was no mention of that here.

  • Bill says:

    How on earth is the first running of a violin competition elevated to “major competition” when the first prize is only $15,000 and there are only 2 dozen competitors?

    I find it a bit hard to believe that an eminent musician starting and chairing the jury of a competition named after himself is going to recruit jury members that will just pick one of their own students to win. Tretyakov has had plenty of opportunities over the years to see Kuschnir in action. Another possibility (besides total corruption) comes to mind: Kuschnir is good at training students to play in a way that wins them competition prizes (not necessarily the same as making them great musicians), and to the extent that he is recruited to judge competitions, he will probably channel his students to those same competitions, especially if the juries have members with track records of liking the same sort of playing.

    Part of preparing successfully for a competition, rigged or not, has to be doing your homework and knowing which competition(s) to enter!

  • Jane says:

    It’s better to say Kuschnir won this competition. Again.

  • Leo says:

    Well, I wonder what he will do next Dogadin He is 30, there is an age limit very soon. His price as a concert artist is far too high with his quality, he plays notes, not music. Concert business differs from competition business, But still for now this couple pulls trick after trick, deadly reliable,