Contested piano competition digs a deeper hole

The Paderewski Competition has issued what looks like a lawyers’ statement in an attempt to justify its demotion of one contestant from joint first to – mysteriously – also ran. The pianist refused to play a final recital and went public with his sense of injustice, attracting support from many of his peers. 

Here are a couple of baffling clips from the official statement:

The 11th Paderewski International Piano Competition has become the target of attacks by one of the finalists, Sergey Belyavsky, who found the assessment of his performance and the awarding of an honorable mention unjust and has accused the jury of acting against competition regulations. With regard to the above, the Music Association, the Organizer of the Competition states:

The 11th Paderewski International Piano Competition is regulated in accordance with the Rules and Regulations drafted by the Competition’s Artistic Director, prof. Piotr Paleczny, a juror with experience of over 100 international competitions. The Rules and Regulations are clear, and they rule out any possibility of manipulation or misunderstanding. They give rise to no doubts, although the situation at hand may have its sources in insufficient knowledge or understanding thereof.

It gets more obtuse:

A requirement of the Final Stage is that only pianists designated by a majority of the Jurors can become Laureates. In the case of the Paderewski International Piano Competition, this means a unanimous vote by at least five jurors. It must be explicitly stated that in none of the Final votes did Mr. Belyavsky amass such a support of Jury members, and therefore his protest is unsubstantiated and tarnishes the good name of the Competition.

You can read the way the jurors voted here.

But we still don’t know why so many jurors dropped Belyavsky on second vote like a hot blini.

Perhaps one of the judges could tell us what really went on behind the scenes.

 

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
    • Good point taken, especially with the antics of many competitions. But in considering the young musicians who work so hard to participate (and spend so much of their time, energy, and limited funds to travel internationally, hoping for something resembling a fair game) it’s a big point to consider, and we do care about them at least. They should either not do competitions and focus their projects elsewhere, or be more selective about which ones to join.

  • Well…if you look at the voting you will indeed find, that he was tied for 1st place and lost 5 to 4 in the second vote…
    It makes absolutely no sense not to award the 2nd place to him then, but to vote completely anew.
    Actually this entire voting system is nonsense, in my personal opinion.
    They should give overall points and then they have an order that makes sense.
    This system opens the door wide for unfair (and unlogical) results.
    But in the end…I’m afraid none of them is going to have a great career resulting from this competition. Sad but true.

    • “But in the end…I’m afraid none of them is going to have a great career resulting from this competition. Sad but true.”

      No one ever has a career as the result of a competition. What they have is the opportunity to launch a career, and I’m not sure that any but the biggest two or three can actually create such an opportunity. The Chopin competition is one of them, obviously.

      But for every famous winner there are lots of non-famous winners. Wikipedia can show you the always interesting list of winners of Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Van Cliburn, etc: sometimes the 3rd prize winner is more famous now than the 1st prize winner from the same year (coughTRIFONOVcough).

  • The official statement from the competition (along with photos of the signed votes) does no service to its own claims–in fact they confirm the irregularities and even give new details about them, especially in the revote antics of two specific jurors. Sergey Belyavsky was right to refuse the prize.

  • Where is the voting procedure description, by the way? It is not given in the file RULES-2019-1.pdf

    These are my conclusions just from analysis of the voting/re-voting results :

    * Six (6) of 9 jury members in original (first) voting selected different 1-3 winners, while other three (3) were consistent with only one name. This indicates that voting procedure was not clear to jury members. At least.

    * Three [33.3(3) %] jury members, including Chairman, Artistic Director of the Competition,PP, kept flipping names, two (2) of them did it twice.

    *One jury member, WW, has the same votes and change of mind as Chairman, Artistic Director of the Competition, PP. Sorry for my curiosity, are they twins?

    * one jury member, LB, kept Polish contestant consistently on the 2nd place, while selecting SB for the 1st and 3rd place consistently (original voting and re-voting)

    • Two jury members, LB and VO, kept Polish contestant consistently on the 2nd place, while selecting SB for the 1st and 3rd place consistently (original voting and re-voting)

  • Looking at their voting procedure, there was no tie in the 3rd prize vote – where Belyavsky won too, yet they decided to revote and rob him of even that?

    It seems like the World Federation of International Music Competitions should exclude this shady competition from their list.

    Not reputable. And the judges are connected with the 2020 Chopin competition as well.

  • Because they wanted to give the Polish pianist, student of the wife of Paleczny, free entrance to the Chopin competition! Corruption!!

  • “The 11th Paderewski International Piano Competition is regulated in accordance with the Rules and Regulations drafted by the Competition’s Artistic Director, prof. Piotr Paleczny, a juror with experience of over 100 international competitions.”

    How is that supposed to be reassuring?

    This is no-longer a reputable competition.

  • If the goals of entering a competition are attention & fame, Belyavsky has succeeded brilliantly by this outcome, miroiring Pogorelich’s “triumph” at Warsaw in 1980 (does anybody remember the winner that year???). Winning a competition is no guarantee of anything- one recalls the 1976 Leventritt competition in New York, where the 5 finalists were Mtsuko Uchida, Stephen DeGroote, Santiago Rodriguez, Lydia Artymiw, and Marion Hahn. The jury didn’t name a winner, and conductor-jury member William Steinberg stated “I wouldn’t engage any of them”.

  • So, at this rate – we are better off with an AUCTION before anyone plays a note.
    Let’s just distribute prize money and leave, and call it “Paderewski Artists Fund”

    Let the bidding begin!

  • Why not organise a competition for competitions? Who organises the best one, gets a first prize and a diploma “Fair Play’. A jury will look into logistics, jury selection, voting processes, private quarrels behind closed doors, suspect relationships between contestants and jury members, etc.

  • How Orwellian: because the rules outlaw manipulation, and unfairness, it could not have occurred. But that’s not really lawyer-like because all lawyers know that people violate rules and laws every day.

    ” The Rules and Regulations are clear, and they rule out any possibility of manipulation or misunderstanding. They give rise to no doubts, although the situation at hand may have its sources in insufficient knowledge or understanding thereof.”

  • And why the assumption that some judges had leverage over the others? So what if some changed ther rankings after an exchange of perspectives—isn’t that why their are panels? Are any of the judges complaining that they had a gun to their head to change their vote or that their final assessments were reflected erroneously? It seems the answer is no.

    • reasonable people are not replying to this thread. Either get on the bandwagon with the “also rans” or prepare to receive many down votes.

  • It’s a ridiculous voting system, since some jury members have more power (e.g. if they vote for the first prize winner, their vote for the 2nd prize winner is as strong as those who voted for another 1st prize winner). I think the voting system in the Chopin competition in Warschau is one of the few fair voting systems.

  • Shameful. Do NOT apply to this competition. Let them go bankrupt.
    Sad.

    There should be a big, beautiful wall between each jury member to prevent COLLUSION.

  • Shame on you, jurors. If Chopin Competition has any pierogi sense, they would do away with direct qualification from other competitions.

  • The voting slips reveal an absolute shambles. What was going on no-one will ever know. As has already been stated, the only logical result would have been shared 1st prize. Any other result would leave the competition open to the allegation ( now made in the clearest possible terms) that the result was rigged

  • Why no one pays attention to the fact that the two jury members voted for Belyavsky as worthy of 1st prize, but then decided he is not worthy of 2nd prize? I think that we have clear fact of corruption here.

  • >