Pianists are backing the one who refused the prize

Pianists are backing the one who refused the prize


norman lebrecht

November 27, 2019

Online responses by pianists to Sergey Belyavsky’s refusal to accept an inferior award at the dodgy Paderewski Competition have been overwhelmingly supportive. Here are a few:

Sergei Kuznetsoff: ‘Totally supporting this fantastic pianist Sergey Belyavsky and his speech against the competition “mafia” and corruption in the competitions and Paderewski Piano Competition in particular! It has been known long before that same judges travel from one competition to another and distribute cash and prizes between themselves and their own protégés…. Not only is Sergey Belyavsky a brilliant musician, but also a great human being who is not afraid to speak out honestly about this huge problem! My respect!’

Zsolt Bognár: ‘I thank my friend Sergey Belyavsky for taking a stand and refusing the prize. A fantastic pianist and musician, he is also a human being of dedication and integrity. Thankfully, he doesn’t need to win a competition to succeed, and many people believe in him. I remember when we were roommates at the Beethoven Courses in Positano, we would stay up all night and he would demonstrate and explain the entire piano repertoire, from memory and with great enthusiasm. There is a lot more to this story that has not yet been made public; Sergey did the right thing, and did it gracefully, not forcefully.’

‎Daria-Ioana Tudor‎: ‘You’re the winner! You’re my winner…and probably not only mine!!!

‘I’m not talking about the official results…all I can do is wish they were the same!!!

‘I’m only speaking from the perspective of a person who got to taste a bit of what you’ve been through during the last few months and I can very honestly say that I don’t know how you’re still alive! And on top of that, you DELIVERED SUCH PERFORMANCES right now in Poland! Man, RESPECT!!! I can only guess that all your energy and all you’ve been recently giving on stage came from a very sincere LOVE of music! And for that, CHAPEAU!!’

Biggest congratulations from Berlin!!!

Peter Rhodes: ‘Sergey, a brave, courageous, honest, open and purely vocal conclusion to the competition last night.

A true piece of history in the world of piano competition.

You exposed and shamed the lesser mortals of the jury out of their murky deals and into the flood lights of centre stage.

A huge well done from me mate.

Total admiration and respect.’

Luka Okros: ‘I can’t keep silence regarding things, that happened at the Paderewski Competition. From my own experience, lots of the competitions are not transparent, many times voting, especially in final rounds, is very questionable, often jury members after the competition privately comment and disapprove the results. However, except few, like Marta Argerich in 1980, no one of jury members have the courage to express opinion regarding the competition or competitors publicly. No one has guts to even try to change competitions’ voting system and make it transparent as it is in many sports. Someone would argue, that music is not sport, however the way musicians are put together in this system reminds me more horse race, rather than celebration of music.’

And, significantly, this:

Sergei Kuznetsoff: ‘After my post in support of Sergey Belyavsky who refused to take an honorable mention, but in fact deserves the first prize in the Paderewski Piano Competition in Poland, Mr. Piotr Paleczny, the artistic director of the above-mentioned competition, has blocked me as if I have committed some kind of an “offense” or “attack”. No explanations, no rebuttal, no excuses, no descriptions…. This only shows that these people live in a bubble of selfishness and never able to respond to criticism or answer questions to clarify the situation. This causes tremendous crisis in classical music industry, in the world of piano competitions in particular.’



  • Harold Lewis says:

    Bravo for your brave and principled stand (and your wonderful performance of the Prokofiev sixth sonata).

  • Ozan says:

    Has a website with secret product placement (instagram as well). Must be ok with a world full of fixed organizations.

  • Paleczny is not nice says:

    Bravo to all who are standing up to the competition mafia!

  • Paderewsky hath RISEN says:

    Yes. Paderewsky Competition and Piotr Paleczny are also connected with the upcoming prestigious Chopin competition in Warsaw.

    How is that going to play out?
    If competitions were ran like any other normal business and subject to the same legal guidelines – the piano festival attached to the Paderewski competition would be AUDITED and some very interesting things would likely be revealed.

    But of course, most of the general public doesn’t care about this.
    If the Olympics or Oscars had this level of corruption – there would be a public uproar.

  • Fliszt says:

    Had Belyavsky been awarded 1st prize, he would already have been forgotten by now. He’s actually better off with the way things turned out!

  • Karl says:

    That competition sounds like it is as honest as the day is long.

  • Joe Patrych says:

    Simple fix: no teachers on competition juries.

  • Alan says:

    On the initially vote, Belyavsky tied with the first prize winner. Jury says no joint winner and revote. And then Belyavsky becomes 4th on revote? How can one minute you are better than. 2nd and 3rd and the next minute you are worse?

    • Michel Dalberto says:

      This is THE question and I cannot understand how people supposedly fair & honest like Mrs. Fialkowska or Mr. Ovchinikov have agreed to this unfair & dishonest vote. 1/ If there is an odd number of jury members, how can you obtain a tie ? 2/ There are rules also for a jury. Either ties are possible or not but it should be clear from the beginning.

  • Ed says:

    A group of knowledgeable, independent observers should give these competitions ratings: A (transparent), B (questionable but repairable) and C (toxic). If these cachets become mainstream, C competitions will die and B events will suffer until they meet the standards for ‘A’.

  • Jan says:

    Sounds like someone who can’t accept he didn’t win. If you can’t take a loss, don’t participate in competitions.