Bad vibes at French finals as Japanese winners are horribly booed

Bad vibes at French finals as Japanese winners are horribly booed


norman lebrecht

November 17, 2019

The public erupted with frustration at the finals of the Long-Thibaud-Crespin Competition last night when the top prizes went to three Japanese and an Armenian:

1 Kenji Miura
2 Keigo Mukawa
3 Zhora Sargsyan

There were loud groans as a French contestant, Jean-Baptiste Doulcet, was called out for the fourth place and cheers as he was awarded the public prize. The two Japanese winners were greeted with boos and whistles. There were vicious boos for Miura (pictured) on his return for a subsequent prize and further boos for the jury when they were thanked from the platform.

Martha Argerich, who chaired the jury, did not attend until the final round.

Watch video here. Results from 3.50.00.


UPDATE :Experienced critics were pretty upset at the result. This from Alain Lompech thinks the 1st prize should not have been given:

Le Concours Long se fourvoie une fois encore par un palmarès étrange et très contestable ! Le premier prix va à Kenji Miura qui a très mal joué les Valses nobles de Ravel, Dante de Liszt et la Sonate 311 de Mozart ! Et le deuxième prix à Keigo Mukawa qui a tellement mieux joué les Miroirs de Ravel et la 2e Partita de Bach ! Les 3e et 4e prix sont plausibles. Le 5e et le 6e aussi. Mais en réalité le 1er prix ne devait pas être décerné car le niveau global des candidats arrivés en finale était moyen. Réunir un tel jury pour un résultat aussi contestable…



  • Jack says:

    Congratulations to that audience for ruining a fantastic moment for a young artist who did nothing wrong except show up to do his best. I hope they feel really good about themselves!

    • mary says:

      Unfortunately, the audience IS the fan base (and probably the most die hard of fans), and if you start out your career already alienating an already shrinking fan base, not sure where you go from there.

      So the audience reaction DOES matter in competitions.

      The jury can hand out the prize, but it can’t hand out an audience.

    • Cathy says:

      The audience booed not the performer, but the jury! Performer did not do anything wrong. Just performed badly. Both solo and specially the concerto (listen, please!) He got also concerto award, what was more than ridiculous. Audience applauded to him anyway but booed the jury decision.

    • Pianist says:

      Jury just ruined a fantastic competition with fantastic history by giving prizes to technically weak performances what also did not touch the audience.

    • Heather says:

      I agree with you, but I would go further. Just watching this video of such appalling behaviour only reinforces my own disgust at how barbaric, rude and uncivilised French people are. I have witnessed similar uncivilised behaviour from French audiences in the past, not to mention bad manners and vile behaviour in public places, in shops, when driving, when boarding a train or a plane, etc. Few cultures in the world have such a propensity for showing inconsiderate and bad manners as the French do and then actually believe themselves to be civilised and think that they can give lessons to others. No wonder that year after year international surveys rank them as the rudest people in the world and the most disliked in travel surveys. No wonder.

      • CJ says:

        What a relief, French bashing is back!
        I was getting worried, there was none for several days on this blog!
        (“..the most disliked..”? Strange then that France received more visitors in
        2018 than any other country in the world: 89 millions).

      • Harry Collier says:

        I go to France 3-4 times a year and have done for the past five decades or so, living there for a couple of years. I have always found the French very civilised, on the whole — a lot more so than the average English or American person

      • Lynn says:

        Heather, I am sorry to hear you feel this way. I, English Canadian, have lived in France for almost 24 years and have only been spoken to rudely once, many years ago when I made a mistake at the market – sampling an olive thinking it was in a sampling dish! My friends, co-workers and acquaintances here in France really don’t ascribe to your description above. I am sorry to read you have such strong negative feelings towards the French, a people I am thrilled to be a part of.

        • Gema says:

          24 years in France and only spoken to rudely once! You must be a Saint or have the ability to not notice when people are being rude and discourteous. I am a very easy going person and never have problems dealing with people, but in France I have encountered the worst manners and rudeness that I have ever witnessed anywhere. It was not always directed at me, but I just witnessed things that made me realise that French people have very poor manners and no respect for others. You should read the links in Martin’s post above, as they represent what I experienced. Consider yourself lucky! Anyway, Canadians are among the most polite and kind people anywhere.

        • Paul Carlile says:

          Astonishing! Lynn, either you don’t understand what they are saying or have hearing problems. Anyone spending 24 hours in France has usually experienced at least 24 times the rudeth that you claim! It’s by far the most uncivilised society in its behaviour altho one can always find wonderful people, as individuals, as in any other group.

    • Guest says:

      Jury is saying In interview they tried to find somebody who audience will connect with. Apparently they failed this job greatly!

  • Olassus says:

    “At the age of ten [Kenji Miura] was awarded the first prize at the Rai-on Piano Competition. He was a finalist in the 2009 Franz Liszt International Piano Competition for young pianists in Weimar. In 2015, he won the Outstanding Diploma at the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition. He is also the recipient of the AAF Award, which was awarded to him by Martha Argerich and Gustav Alink. In 2017, the very 1st edition of the International Shigeru Kawai Piano Competition was held to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Kawai Instruments. More than 350 pianists from 25 countries took part and Kenji Miura was crowned the first prize winner.”

  • PHF says:

    Very french of them… luckly they didn’t riot and burned everything down.

  • Leila says:

    The audience should never have behaved this way, for sure, but it was such a (very bad !) surprise to hear the French Doulcet was only fourth and the winner was Miura… because despite all the prizes he seems to have win previously, Miura played not good both in recital and concerto. Jean-Baptiste Doulcet had so many colors in his playing and very sensitive interpretation, I heard two critics live on medici saying – before the results – that he was the discovery of the all competition…! Even in his choice of repertoire, it was original. The juries have argued in some interviews that they wanted a different winner profile, and for once a richer artistic personality to win… Too bad it was just manners of speaking and that results show nothing but the opposite.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    These young pianists have a wonderful journey ahead of them, and a responsibility to uphold the traditions of this long-running competition. Placement of winners does not guarantee future success, but hopefully, they will make wise decisions about repertoire and performances along the way. May their roads be filled with blessings and beautiful music.

  • Just asking says:

    Martha Argerich was during whole competition replaced not by HAMELIN, not by JUDE or some other great pianist or professor, but by CHAMAYOU! He was the acting president.

    Who is that? Does many of you internationally recognize the name? What is his position? Accompanist in the CNSM?

    And why it was no person with higher international profile replacing person with the name and reputation like Martha Argerich?

    • Tamino says:

      The president of the jury is responsible for facilitating smooth proceedings and encourage open discussion between members and moderate it. It is secondary if he/she is a great pianist him-/herself.

  • Richard Bloesch says:

    You should know Bertrand Chamayou’s name. His recordings of Liszt, Ravel, Franck, Mendelssohn, Schubert, etc. are all of the highest quality

  • Fan says:

    He is a pianist extensively recorded for Erato, and he is French.

  • Joel stein says:

    Bernard Chamayou is a fine pianist.

  • Just saying says:

    What are you all taking about?

    Jury said very clearly in interview on Medici – they wanted to find somebody who connects with the audience 🙂

    That the connection with the audience is most important.

    Audience of Paris has spoken very clearly. They hated the Jury for choosing the wrong winner. They were thinking it’s a scandal. They showed clearly what they feel.

    • Walt says:

      You write, “They showed clearly what they feel.” That may be true, but it is extremely inconsiderate and bad manners to boo prizewinners, who just went through a grueling competition, gave their best and only ask for respect. RESPECT is the word here and a word and concept that French society doesn’t understand in so many situations and interactions with other people and why French people have such a bad reputation and bad image all over the world. France is a country that I avoid whenever possible, as I simply have no patience for selfish, egocentric, individualistic people without basic civilised manners and who think that saying ‘bonjour’ is a sign of being polite and then spit on you immediately after. Sadly, their country is in the process of self-destruction and we will all see French “respect” for public property and others in December, when they have announced big strikes, riots and probably burning other people’s cars, businesses and property. Nice people.

  • Person in the hall says:

    Being in this hall – nobody had anything against the participants!
    Only juries work.

    Public clearly booed the jury announcements and clearly applauded to the participant afterwards.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Didn’t US audiences boo the female winner of the US Open (tennis) only a year ago? The runner-up felt compelled to apologize and tell the crowd off.

  • BP says:

    Christian Merlin has published an article in le Figaro excoriating this incomprehensible outcome :

    Anyone can listen to the contestants to verify how ludicrous the jury’s decision was. By the way it is they who were booed rather than the pianists.

  • No to Chamayou in the future! says:


    Unforgivable mistakes he has done during his leadership.

    – hiding the fact the Martha Argerich was not attending the whole competition apart of the orchestra final

    – making French media to believe and write about Martha’s presence in announcement of the results of all rounds

    – taking the lead of the competitions jury and being the Vice – President and acting President without announcing it to the participants or media before.

    – Total absence of transparency, where round 1 and semifinals was not recorded or streamed and votes are not public.

    – leading a respected competition with the long history to a total public disaster and scandal, where critics, audience, reviewers and just normal public totally agreed on absolutely scandalous results and outcome.