Why no women on the Tchaikovsky juries?

Why no women on the Tchaikovsky juries?


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2019

The main juries are comprised as follows:

Piano: 11 men,  0 females.  chair: Denis Matsuev
Violin: 11 men, 1 female.     chair: Martin Engstroem
Cello: 11 men, 2 females.     chair: Clive Gillinson
Just like the bad old days.


  • James says:

    Why do you use the term ‘females’ rather than ‘women’ whilst at the same time using ‘men’ instead of ‘males’?

  • feminist says:

    there are women on the jury. 3 too many!

  • John Rook says:

    Maybe they don’t care what anyone thinks…

  • Dr.SerraBrooks says:

    Same ol boy network of exclusion

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Maybe you feel that you cannot win at the game so you have to make sure the rules are changed.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    I’m upset by the lack of any black or transgendered persons on the juries. Also, why are a-sexuals and furries not fully represented on these juries? I AM OUTRAGED!

    • MacroV says:

      Please, must you always go reductio ad absurdum? And 32 upvotes? Sheesh.

    • Don Fatale says:

      Then you’ll be apoplectic when you find out how underrepresented women are in the bricklaying and roofing professions!

    • Lurker says:

      Women are over 50% of the population though, it’s rather odd that none were available – unless they were deliberately (consciously or otherwise) overlooked.

  • John Smith says:

    Why is it always about gender???

    • Figaro says:

      Because it already has been for millennia. To right ignorant wrongs, awareness is necessary.

      Don’t fall into a false assumption of neutrality.

    • Byrwec Ellison says:

      Maybe because it’s reasonable to ask, “Why doesn’t this look like the world?” (Even the piano world has women in it)

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Please ask the people who started all that divisive identity politics. The vast majority of people – the silent majority – are sick to the death of it.

    • Leopol says:

      Do you mean about sex? Why are people using they word gender when they mean sex? Is sex becoming a dirty word?

    • Cordula says:

      Because its important for about 52% of people, but not to you – thats why you dont understand it.

  • Grabenassel says:

    Maybe they are just not interested in these stupid competitions……

  • Coenraad Bloemendal says:

    Stupid Russians . Especially since the two greatest virtuosi Hilary Hahn and Yuja Wang are women. All those competitions have lost their meaning anyhow.

  • M2N2K says:

    So, cello jury includes more women than others… A conductor (deceased) with whom I worked for a while long time ago in the old country used to scream at his female cellists something along these lines: “What do you think – the wider you spread your legs the better it sounds?” Oh, the bad old days!

  • Esther Cavett says:


    Err….a misleading title as you then say there’s one for violin and two for cello. Three is greater than zero, surely ?

  • Victor says:

    Here we go again. What, no blind contestants ? None who are visually or hearing impaired? None with handicaps? Too many Asians or Americans? Gender, gender!!!!
    Please, please …..
    ”Applause is a receipt, not a bill. ” (Schnabel)

    • Don Giovanni says:

      Here we go again; reducto ad absurdam – pedestrian and predictable. This isn’t a boolean between either essentially all men or we absolutely must include someone from every walk of life and perspective.
      It’s simply not the case that the only or even most qualified judges are men; this is a dusty old patriarchal system that, like so much of our classical world, needs challenged with an approach based in the frontal cortex rather than the amygdala. Empiricism rather than authority.
      Please, please…
      “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” (Mahler)

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Why so few women in the piano competition? I’ve identified just two.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    The broad statement of the headline is lebrechtly misleading. It is only piano all male.

    Who would want to spend a month in Russia right now? Locked in rooms listening to young players you’ve already heard before.
    With the exception of the notorious “BK” juror, most of the jury is not typically on international juries anyway. And 6 of the 12 jurors are Russian. Is that a surprise? Russia isn’t exactly interested in these ratios. (And seeing the semi-finalists we already know who will win and have a photo with President Putin).

    We could include Vanessa Mae because she’s a woman with relatively high international status (although she’s not exactly a great player.). Is that all that is required to subdue this headline? Hire Lindsey Sterling and maybe a long lost fossil, maybe an 87 year old woman teacher from, say, Kentucky. Fire the male jurors in their mid-40s and hire Ray Chen (I’m sure the schedule for judging Tchaikovsky would work out smoothly with his diary). We should also be sure to include an LGBTQ juror, and make sure it is well known with a rainbow flag filter over their country’s flag (hopefully they will have the necessary security detail during their stay in Moscow).
    We should also forget that this is just another major violin competition. QE, Montreal, Michael Hill, Nielsen, Tibor all just recent.

    Does it bother anyone that there is only one female judge who is Japanese, and 2 out of 4 woman semi finalists are Japanese? Can we draw any conclusions? Should we?? Probably not!
    And most of the semi-finalists are from Russia. Would there be a difference if a woman violinist from Russia was judging?

    Competitions are always flawed. Despite efforts to remove bias, there will always be bias.
    What is sad is that more and more musicians are preparing for competitions simply to appeal to the lowest common denominator in each of the judges; losing their individuality in the process. Pretty faces and social media appeal seem to be prioritized. Gone are the days of chubby musicians playing to make an impact. Could a biased jury actually be a good thing afternoon all? “Not if you’re a competitor”, says all but one.

  • Tully Potter says:

    This is disgraceful. Years ago I arrived at the London String Quartet Competition to see a jury of 12 men. ‘Why no women, Yfrah?’ I asked Yfrah Neaman. ‘There aren’t any,’ he said. I named several off the top of my head, probably including Elisa Pegreffi of the Quartetto Italiano, Tutter Givskov of the Copenhagen Quartet and our own Nona Liddell and Diana Cummings. Left to themselves, these self-perpetuating male enclaves would continue to behave like male clubs.

  • Tweettweet says:

    In some other gender cases that NB mentions, the distribution m/f is statistically not so extreme, but in this case, I think it would be fair to state that there should be more women in the jury.

  • Sarah Billinghurst says:

    Please note there are 6 men and 6 women on the Vocal Jury for the present Tchaikovsky competition

    • Tweettweet says:

      Yes, that seems to be the only jury with fair distribution of gender. However, in the woodwinds jury there is also only one woman.

    • Keen Ned says:

      Moreover, they are mandated to shortlist equal numbers of men and women for the finals. Quite a few people are bent out of shape on this, since the quality of the female entrants this year is head-and-shoulders above that of the men.

  • Musiclover says:

    Why no Asian on the juries? There are many Asian contestants but only two Asians, one in violin and one in piano on all categories.

  • Bogda says:

    You seem to have omitted voice?!

    6 women 6 men Woman is the chair

  • Leopold says:

    If I am correct there are 25 competitors in the first round and only 2 of them are women. Isn’t that even more thought-provoking?

  • Marina Frolova-Walker says:

    It is indeed an absolute disgrace, but some of the comments here are far more disgraceful, so obviously not just a Russian problem…