Judge’s student makes Tchaikovsky violin finals

Judge’s student makes Tchaikovsky violin finals


norman lebrecht

June 22, 2019

Slippedisc readers will be aware that the violin teacher Boris Kushnir has helped his pupil Sergey Dogadin to win several international competitions in which he was a judge or chairman.

Well, he has just done it again.

Dogadin is among the last six finalists at the Tchaikovsky Competition.

He has one vote cast for him before he even plays.

The other five are:

Mayumi Kanagawa

Marc Bouchkov

Aylen Pritchin

Milan al-Ashab

and Donghyun Kim.




  • Eva says:

    And? He is a fantastic violinist. Should he be banned from taking part in competitions anywhere because his teacher is a good one and of a high demand?? Objectively he is a candidate.

    • Anon says:

      No Eva, his teacher should not be invited to be on the jury of big competitions.
      He will usually tend to have students in the competition, therefore it makes no sense to have him on the jury.
      Logic is obviously not your strong suit.

    • MacroV says:

      No. His teacher shouldn’t be serving on the jury.

    • E.S. says:

      If he is really that amazing he should go to competitions where his teacher is not in the jury. Thank god there are enough other stupid competitions…

    • wladek says:

      He is a bore …..has some dexterity and not much else.

  • David says:

    He can’t vote for his own students

    • Nijinsky says:

      Could you substantiate that rule.

      Because it says here in the rules for the Tchaikovsky Competition: “Jury members shall be independent and not have own students in the competition. ”


      And then a simple google search for Dogadin shows in Wikipedia that he currently studies with Kushner, if that’s true mind you, that IS Wikipedia.



      Or are there other competitions where A jury member can have a student, but then he can’t vote for them. From what I gather the Tchaikovsky Competition is breaking it’s own rules.

      • Olev says:

        Chopin competition is one of those where you cannot vote for your students. They publicise the mark sheets every time, and you can see that the jurors put ‘s’ for Student instead of marking. eg. Kate Liu and Eric Lu being students of Thai Son Dang in 2015.
        Of course there are the rumours that in some competitions teachers “trade” marks so this doesn’t eradicate the problem completely but the transparency of showing the mark sheet like this is definitely a step in the right direction by the Chopin Competition

    • Tweettweet says:

      Even then, he could give the other competitors low grades. And the other judges probably know that he’s a student of his, so there might be some bias, either unconscious or conscious.

    • E.S. says:

      Maybe but he will score the other violinists lower so his student is on the top again. Furthermore he will speak to his colleagues on the jury, inviting them to other competitions, masterclasses etc. It’s all business!

  • Luigi Nonono says:

    I wish my teacher had done that for me.

    • anon says:

      I disagree. Whilst the distinction between merit and connections is not as clear-cut as one might like (especially in the freelance world, where it is almost impossible to advance any sort of career to a high level without a track-record of recommendations, a synthesis of “merit” and “connections”), there is no escaping the fact that it is far less satisfying to achieve something primarily on the strength of nepotism. If I were the beneficiary of such a blatant ‘leg-up’, I would have too many sleepless nights wondering whether I deserved any subsequent success/acclaim.

    • Forley says:

      A clean and fair competition without any manipulation is what I expect.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    I think nothing reveals how useless these competitions are more than this:

    In 2011, Dogadin won 2nd Prize (tying with Itamar Zorman) and the Audience prize at this very same competition—The Tchaikovsky Competition. Surprised you forgot?

    Imagine the confidence he must have to return and risk the 2nd Prize from 8 years ago…

    Whether it works in his favor or against, can we really say? The fact is, he has had many first prizes since 2011

  • Musician says:

    He’s a very fine violinist. Sure, competitions should be fair, but then again so should life… most careers launch because someone backs them. There are far graver hurdles for classical music than this – like how orchestras and theatres are run etc.

  • Shorvon says:

    Competition hack, even if he does win, I do not foresee that the win will by default translate into a major career booster. Would be interesting to review if violinists like dogadin indeed has evolved from competition to competition, or merely dishing out familiar offerings time and again.

  • Steven van Staden says:

    Art is not a sport. The very notion of organised competition in music is ridiculous. These contests are a disservice to what used to be called the music world. They are serving the music business. As Horowitz said, “they don’t smell good.”

  • Peter says:

    I wonder why other competitors with even stronger ties with more than one jury members and the Chair, namely Bouchkov or Kobekina in the Cello section, never ever get a comment in this blog. Please if you mean to “judge”, be fair and inform about all the other existing connections.

  • Stephen says:

    Jury member Mikhail Kopelman plays in a string quartet with Boris Kuschnir. So that’s 2 votes. Viktor Tretiakov started a competition for Sergei to win. So that’s 3 votes. No wonder he came back after already getting top prize in 2011. This is fishy AF.

  • Back desk violinist says:

    Also worth noting that Kuschnir plays in the Kopelman Quartet with his great chum Mikhail Kopelman, who – surprise, surprise – is also on the jury. So that is at least 2 votes…

  • Realist says:

    Mr Sergey Dogshit needs to stop cheating. The point of playing a showpiece is to show off your virtuosity in the tempo the composer has suggested. Anyone could play ‘Nelcor Piu’ with all the breathing and stopping in the world. He uses ‘phrasing’ to slow down the piece so he can play the difficult passages cleanly. What is the point of playing such a piece if you are going to play it that slow? Same goes to Soobeen Lee. The Finale of her Paganini 24 was horrendous. If you take that much time, who cant play it in tune!!? Competitions are becoming sick. Ivry Gitlis once told me that one wrong note from Oistrakh was worth more than all the right notes of these competitors. Stop finding loop holes to play things good and rather work on your technique and play something you can actually play in time. Kanagawa?

  • Hendrick says:

    I read these comments above and listened for the first time ever to this violinist, the 2nd round , and heard a committed player with plenty to say musically, nothing jaded or even fake about him. How many of you critics attain this level of musicianship/on paper/a commitment for life? Why not divert yourselves to some extremely vain pianists I have heard in this competition?
    So what if excellent musicians support each other deservedly when needed, no-one else does.

  • Forley says:

    Here are the list of the recent prizes from Mr Dogadin’s website.

    From 2011 to present, I found that all of his top prizes were from the competition where his teacher Boris Kushnir served as a jury member.

    -2011- XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition – Second Prize (First prize not awarded) and the Audience Prize (Russia)
    Jury members:
    Yuri Bashmet (Russia), Maxim Vengerov (Israel-Russia), Leonidas Kavakos (Greece), Andres Cardenes (USA), John Corigliano (USA), Boris Kushnir (Austria-Russia), Anne-Sofie Mutter (Germany), Sergey Stadler (Russia), Victor Tretyakov (Russia), Nikolay Znaider (Denmark), Barry Schiffman (Canada), Martin Engström (Sweden).

    -2015- IX Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition Hannover ­­- First Prize (Germany)
    https://www.jjv-hannover.de/en/jury Boris Kushnir was one of the jury members.

    -2016- I International Isaac Stern Violin Competition – Second Prize (China)
    From the wiki article you can find Boris Kushnir’s name.

    -2018- Singapore International Violin Competition – First Prize, Prize for the best performance of the Paganini Caprice and Prize from Goh Soon Tioe for the best Violin and Piano recital.
    Boris Kushnir was in the jury, again.

    According to the rules of this Tchaikovsky competition, https://tch16.com/en/rules/ “Jury members shall be independent and not have own students in the competition. ” He and his teacher are breaking the rules, and the competition is losing its credibilities. I am disappointed to see that.

    • wladek says:

      Jury members listed unfortunately explains
      why the violin world is in the pits ,From
      Bashmet to Engstrom not an original player in the

    • Saxon Broken says:

      If he has won several prizes at prestigious competitions, then perhaps the thing to do is to true and understand why he isn’t consequently finding his way in a solo career. After all, isn’t that the aim?

  • Elvira says:

    So many first prize winners in so many competitions are gone.
    Where are this talented musicians?

  • Esther Cavett says:

    Wasn’t Stern on the Leventritt panel when P. Zuckerman co-won it ? And Oistrakh on the Moscow when Kremer won ?

    I can’t really see what all the fuss is about when this topic keeps coming up on SD

  • Disappointed says:

    I have to say that I haven’t been impressed with most of these big competition participants and finalists in a long time. Their technique and especially accuracy is indisputably admirable, but tone is empty, sometimes even ugly, and nothing much to say. Those that sound more artistic, I wonder if it’s themselves, or the influence of the numerous great artists dead and alive that they go around studying with and emulating. Evidence is with the large number of very young performers that sound musical and special, until you get to know them more and realize that they learned the music largely by practising repetitively and listening to/following various recordings.
    This also explains what so many others have commented on about bias amongst juries, teachers, schools. It may not even be personal, i.e. deliberate favoritism. Play for and listen to someone often enough, you start to acquire similar tastes. That’s why the smart ambitious performers start making the rounds from young, playing for and studying with all the key people.

    I finally get what has always been said about competition winners and successful performers and the analogies made with race horses. There is a certain type that consistently succeeds and have careers, and it has nothing to do with music itself. I used to think that the truly discerning judges would be able to change the tides and not be swayed by the polished emptiness, but it doesn’t work that way.
    In reality, even if you honestly don’t care for their playing, as a fair, objective judge, you end up still awarding them the prize because it’s indisputable that they played without mistakes, thus making them the “best”.

    I wish it would change, but at the same time, physical prowess and reliability is essential for a performer, especially those who tour extensively, and you have to admire those who do possess those traits. They are indeed highly commendable as performers, but I just don’t think they should be confused with true artists musically-speaking.