The Tchaikovsky Competition has issued a statement admitting a terrible mistake that cost the Chinese pianist An Tianxu any chance of succeeding in the final.

An announcement had been made in Russian substituting Rachmaninov’s Paganini Variations for the Tchaikovsky concerto, but the pianist did not understand Russian and was visibly bewildered at hearing the Rachmaninov opening.

The jury chair Denis Matsuev offered the pianist afterwards a chance to repeat his performance, but An Tianxu was too upset.

The announcer has been fired.

Nobody else takes responsibility for switching round the concertos without telling the soloist.

It’s a fuckup disgrace.

More here.

Nothing about it on official competition media.

Here’s  rough translation of the official statement:
Due to a horrendous mistake made by a staff member of the Svetlanov Orchestra, on the 25th of June, before the appearance of the soloist, Tchaikovsky Competition piano contestant Tianxu An, the orchestra members and the conductor were presented the scores of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff pieces put in a wrong order – different from the order declared by the contestant. Therefore the performance started with a fault – it took a moment for the contestant to switch to another piece.

By the unanimous decision of the jury, the Chairman D. Matsuev officially offered Tianxu An to replay his program again. The contestant has officially declined the offer.

The head administration of Svetlanov State Orchestra has fired their staff member after this dreadful incident.”


Gabriela Montero had bought tickets to hear Martha and Maria Joao Pires play four-hand in Hamburg and had booked her flights from Barcelona. Last night at one in the morning, the phone rang. ‘Gabrielita,’ said Martha, ‘Pires has had to cancel on Wednesday night. Will you play the Schubert F Minor Fantasie with me? And could you do some improvisations?’.

Gabriela says: ‘So, that’s where I’ll be tonight. Not sitting in the audience, but sitting onstage next to my dear Martha bringing to life these gorgeous 20 minutes of other-worldly inspiration.’


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From the Department of Hot Air:

Guildhall School of Music & Drama has been awarded a grant of just over £984,000 ($1.1million) by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for an international consortium, led by Guildhall, to undertake a three-year investigation into the social impact of making music entitled Music for social impact: practitioners’ contexts, work and beliefs. It is the largest grant Guildhall School has received to date.

The research, scheduled to begin in early 2020, is led by Guildhall School Research Professor John Sloboda OBE, in partnership with co-investigators Professor Heidi Westerlund (Sibelius Academy, University of Arts Helsinki); Professor Geoffrey Baker (Royal Holloway, University of London); Dr An De Bisschop (University College Ghent); and Dr Gloria Patricia Zapata Restrepo (Fundación Universitaria Juan N Corpas, Bogota). Co-funding for the project has also been supplied by the International Platform for Social Impact of Making Music (


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It is now scheduled to cost between 554 and 571 million Euros (=dollars) – more than double the original approved estimate – and it will not be finished until well into 2023.

The reasons for the delay? Air conditioning, climate warming, the usual excuses.

The Cologne opera house dates from 1957. Renovation work started in 2012.

Not terribly efficient.

Message from the German-based violinist and conductor:


Message from his PRs:

Michael Tilson Thomas had a successful heart operation at the Cleveland Clinic and is recovering well. The doctors have called the procedures a complete success and have said that his heart is performing at 100%. He is currently recuperating at the Clinic and will return to the San Francisco area in the near future where he will spend the summer convalescing and preparing to open the 2019–20 seasons of the San Francisco Symphony (September 4) and New World Symphony (October 12).

The city has selected Tobias Wolff, a journalist and dramaturg, to succeed Ulf Schirmer in 2022.

Schirmer, 60,  is an accomplished conductor who took on the post of Intendant at Leipzig Oper in 2011 in addition to his duties as general music director.

Wolff, 44, has been head of the International Handel Festival in Göttingen for the past eight years.


The Spokane Symphony has chosen James Lowe as its next music director, starting next week.

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In Spokane, which is in Washington State, he succeeds the multi-job Eckart Preu.

The conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy and soloist Shai Wosner cancelled Detroit this week.

They were replaced by NSO assistant Ankush Kumar Bahl and pianist Orion Weiss.

The Detroit podium has been vacant for two seasons since Leonard Slatkin stepped down and they are in no rush to announce a successor. Conductors who cancel are ruled out of selection.

Message from the pianist Anton Rosputko:

I feel like I have to write this. You never know what can expect you in your life. According to some information, a fatal misunderstanding happened tonight at the Tchaikovsky Competition.

As YOU COULD SEE in the broadcast, before An Tianxu’s performance, Tchaikovsky was announced, although Rachmaninov was planned first. Then the announcer said “excuse me” IN RUSSIAN and then announced Rachmaninov’s concerto. But as the Chinese pianist doesn’t speak Russian, he obviously thought that they just announced Rachmaninov as the concerto following AFTER Tchaikovsky. For the conductor it was clear since he speaks Russian. So, now his shockingly late first unisono in the first bars can be easily explained – the guy was obviously expecting a longer introduction of Tchaikovsky, around 10 seconds, but heard a max.2-second one of Rachmaninov’s Paganini Rhapsody and was about to enter, not even having time to realize what happened!!

The performance was very much worse in all the senses than his previous rounds, but, knowing perfectionism for which Chinese nation is famous for, I am sure the whole nerve system of the guy was hit like after a tsunami, if the situation was like I described! He knows, as we all, that the first impression is VERY influential on the general one, so I guess he was in a nervous breakdown from the very start.
…or maybe he just didn’t prepare the finals enough, but OBVIOUSLY it was just this terrible accidental nightmare.
Life is unpredictable. I don’t know what judges will decide and don’t know if they realized what happened, but I wish him all the best!

Watch here.

What’s Russian for fuckup?

UPDATE: Announcer is fired.

UPDATE: An Tianxu video goes viral

Watch now: A backstage view.