ARD needs rethink after no first prize at bassoon final

ARD needs rethink after no first prize at bassoon final


norman lebrecht

September 16, 2019

In a low-key year, the second basson prize was shared between the Italian Andrea Cellacchi, 22, and local favourite Mathis Stier 25.

This could be a moment for ARD to reconsider its workings. All finalists so far in all disciplines have been male.

The last of the sections, percussion, was win last night by an Austrian, Kai Strobel.





  • Gustavo says:

    It’s a masculine instrument.

    Like grandfather.



  • asylumkeeoer says:

    Do you know how heavy a bassoon is to lug around?

  • Anon says:

    So what? What on earth is your point…?

  • Andreas B. says:

    In the 2013 ARD bassoon competition all prizes went to women…

    Might it perhaps generally be a bit misleading to claim “All finalists so far in all disciplines have been male” when you leave out the crucial ‘this year’?

    List of all prize winners:

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    So what, Norman? The best ones each year should win, regardless of their sex. Or you prefer quotas?

  • Gender says:

    Are you saying they should have given the prizes to the female players just because they were female?

  • Sarcasmo says:

    Maybe the males played better than the females this year?

  • Jérémy says:

    Completely useless article… Have you been to Munich to listen to the competition, instead of commenting being a computer in London?

  • Norman is right. The results should be noted since inclusivity tells us something about how widely classical music is being embraced by society. Last year, for example, a young Austrian woman, Selina Ott, won the trumpet competition which was quite a sensation. In 2020, my wife, Abbie Conant, will be on the ARD trombone jury. I’m not entirely certain, but I think she is the first woman to ever serve on the jury. In order to create a fair society and insure the social health and relevance of classical music, we have to keep these issues in mind.

    • Andreas B. says:

      As far as I understand the commenters’ criticism is not directed at Norman for simply “noting the results” or keeping “these issues in mind”.

      However, Norman is not right in more or less subtly suggesting that this specific result could be a case of unfair gender bias and thus demanding the ARD should rethink its workings.

      As you have pointed out, there are quite a few successful women to be found in this competition, both as laureates as well as jury members.

      • If Norman is right that all finalists in all disciplines went to men, then that’s something to think about, no? As a thought experiment, imagine just the opposite, if it had been all women.

    • Fliszt says:

      No, competitions aren’t about a fair society – they are about who gives the best performance, period.

    • As an example, last year my wife posted a notice on Facebook about Selina winning the ARD competition. She quoted Selina who said, “I hope this will encourage a lot of women in the trumpet world. Because this happens far too little.”

      The post had 2.3k likes, over 500 of them hearts, and 577 shares. People notice when classical music expands to new communities, and they like it.

    • Juan Carlos says:

      Señor Osborne: ¿piensa que es más posible en 2020 más mujeres premiadas, porque su mujer estará en el jurado? ¿Va su mujer a juzgar a los trombonistas por su calidad musical o por su sexo?
      Por favor, aclare este punto, así muchos trombonistas hombres no se tomarán la molestia de participar.

      • Sorry you feel so concerned by correctives to male bias and privilege. The best candidates will be chosen by Abbie. That’s why there’s an effort to include women on the juries. It increases objectivity.

  • Bbsbn says:

    Last time for bassoon, the level was higher than this year. All three finalists were women. According to a jury member, two were considered qualified for 1st price, but since the competition rules don’t allow two 1st prices and they didn’t want to choose one of the two, they awarded both a 2nd prize.

    This year, the level was good, but there was no 1st prize candidate in my opinion. I agree totally with the jury’s choice of finalists, the women in the semi’s did simply not show the same level this time.

  • Caranome says:

    Once you deviate from pure music meritocracy and start on this sexual quota slippery slope towards “inclusivity” and “social justice”, you’ll need to confront all other areas of identity politics craziness and “oppressed” groups such as race, religion, sexual orientation. Hey, you know there is no such thing as male/female anymore (at least in the US), right? if you want something to kill classical music faster, which is already hanging on by the thread of its teeth, introducing diversity would be it.

  • Jonathan says:

    People who say in the comments “it’s a heavy instrument” are not so smart to say the least. Lots of wonderful women bassoon players out there who “can take the weight”. Maybe the ARD should reconsider having a only male Jury, and perhaps things will change. I don’t think having a women only prize or a dedicated women place in the final is what will help, but the problem is a bit more on the core of the bassoon playing world. Most principals (most, not all) I personally can name are men. Maybe there’s something to be said about that as well.

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    The gender wars again.

  • William Alexander says:

    Stay out of the bassoon world, Mr. Lebrecht. We don’t need you!

  • Leopold says:

    ” All finalists so far in all disciplines have been male.” This fixation on the sex of the participants smells like sexism to me. Only very sexist societies see the sex of a person as their most important attribute. I do not think that constantly mentioning or considering the race or sex or age of a person helps against discrimination. Quite the opposite.