Trouble at the Tchaikovsky Competition: Who’s the violin chair?

Trouble at the Tchaikovsky Competition: Who’s the violin chair?


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2019

The contest has released the names of its jury chairmen:

• Piano – Denis Matsuev, world-famous Russian pianist and gold medalist of the XI Tchaikovsky Competition

• Violin – Martin Engstroem, Founder & Executive Director of the Verbier Festival

• Cello – Sir Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall

• Voice – Sarah Billinghurst Solomon, retired Assistant General Manager for Artistic Affairs at the Metropolitan Opera

• Woodwind Instruments – Denis Bouriakov, principal flute of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Associate of the Royal Academy of Music

• Brass Instruments – Ian Bousfield, former principal trombone of London Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic, Professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London

The contentious choice is the violin chair, Martin Engstroem, who is not a specialist in the instrument but has appointed the Tchaik Competition chairman as music director at his Verbier Festival and is involved with other Putinocrats and oligarchs in founding a festival in Latvia.

State control has also tightened with the appointment of deputy prime minister Olga Golodets as co-chair with Gergiev of the Organizing Committee.


  • Simon says:

    Martin would judge a kazoo competition if they paid him enough.

    • Sally Denkers says:

      Nothing but stabs at Valery Gergiev for the past few years, I’ve noticed. Seems like he once respected him. Painful to read his jabs at him now.

  • Peter van Laarhoven says:

    The usual negative nonsense about anything connected with Gergiev. Golodets was also co-chair of the 2015 Competition so state control has not tightened.

  • Mark says:

    More nonsense ! Who cares? Meaningless so called “competition”

    • The Original Anonymous says:

      Many of us are very excited about this Competition. For once, winds and brass – so under represented in international competitions – will have a chance to shine!

  • Anon says:

    At least Gillinson was a working cellist in the LSO prior to his MD position. But this Martin bloke? Joke really – money and contacts as ever!

  • Alex S says:

    Who cares? Competitions are for athletes and horses. They don’t produce artists anymore, only reliable musicians. There’s got to be a better way for real artists to get the recognition they deserve. There are so many competitions now that even the Tchaikovsky Competition has lost its luster over the years.