Anyone you know made it into the Leeds piano competition?

Anyone you know made it into the Leeds piano competition?


norman lebrecht

January 25, 2021

They’ve selected 63 contestants for this year’s event. Only four of them are British.

Full list and pics here.

This successful candidate, Mishka Rushdie Momen, is the niece of novelist Salman Rushdie.


  • Rogerio says:

    I suggest you agree to being sent the names of an uncle of each of the other candidates and publish them here.
    Just in the name of the fairness in Music Competitions that we all know you usually are a champion of.

    • pianoguy says:

      SlippeDisc will always find some angle to call a competition into question, that – alongside over-promoting Mirga – is one of the things this blog is renowned for. There are, however, some reasonable pianists in this bunch and it would be good to hear them before passing further judgement.

      • John humphreys says:

        ‘Reasonable pianists’? Well I should hope so. I’ve heard many of them in competition before and the standard of technical and musical address is truly astounding.

    • alma regina says:

      ?? Her uncle is not just any uncle! He is a a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and “Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres”, honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (and in addition to that, Queen Elizabeth knighted him for his services to literature)!

  • GeorgeKennaway says:

    The clue is in the word ‘international’.

  • christopher storey says:

    Much more interesting is the first round jury. Only 2 pianists – indeed only 2 musicians – only 1 of which is at all well known ( Noriko Ogawa) . It is a sad reflection of the fact that the Leeds Competition is going steadily downhill since its desertion of Leeds ( where it was extremely well supported ) for the earlier rounds

    • Peter San Diego says:

      Simone Dinnerstein is certainly well known on the left side of the pond, at least. Both she and Ogawa are fine artists and worthy jurors. It will be interesting to see who the jurors are for successive rounds.

    • Robert King says:

      Developing your first point, looking at the four first-round jurists, the two who are not primarily pianists are both extremely experienced at picking out the big talents of the future. For SD readers who may not know, for 14 years Adam Gatehouse was the power behind the BBC’s “New Generation Artists” scheme (from which graduated some terrific musical talents during his tenure, including Paul Lewis, Stephen Osborne, Belcea Quartet, Janine Jansen, Benjamin Grosvenor, Igor Levit et al) and Martin Sauer is one of the most experienced recording producers in the business, with 600+ recordings to his name (including the complete Beethoven sonatas with both Daniel Barenboim and Paul Lewis). Their wider skills may be just what is needed to select from 63 very talented pianists the reduced numbers needed for the next round – no enviable task.

      • I remember when Martin Sauer worked with Teije Van Geest in his recording studio back in the 1980’s-’90s. Those guys probably had better ears than 99% of the people who ever made recordings there. I’m sure that Martin Sauer, as did Van Geest, has a musical education and background as well as being a top recording engineer.

        Certainly better qualified than some non-musicians I’ve encountered at juries of other international competitions, IMHO.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I wonder why they’re all mid to late 20’s? That’s quite an ‘old’ cohort for a piano competition.

    • BilderBehr says:

      Nearly half of them are 23 or under. Did you even count?

    • Maria says:

      A good age to embark on a solo career and be able to stand up to the lifestyle and possibly know one’s own mind by then, and say no to having one’s talent abused and diisused.
      One needs a lot more attributes than being able to play or bash the piano. It is the stipulation of te competition. Don’t like it, then don’t enter. Plenty more. Not enough pianists and experienced teachers of piano on the initial jury which is worrying, and also that it’s losing of its Leeds roots. I hope it doesn’t completely lose its way and just become yet another competition for a certain type of competition pianist.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    What a klunky website they have

    • BruceB says:

      I waited, and refreshed, and waited again, before giving up — never did get to see the list of competitors.

      • BruceB says:

        Actually I tried again the next day and it all came up very quickly. High traffic perhaps, or maybe erratic wi-fi on my side.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    If I were a juror, it would of course, be an honor. Dame Fanny will remain a treasured mentor in my life as a musician. Beyond this, I would be most interested to see each pianist’s lists of concerti (standard, less known, and new), both studied (ready to perform) and performed, and recital repertoire of at least 5 different programs which could be performed and cycled during two seasons. I would also want to see a separate list of concerti representing the last 50 years. Add chamber music repertoire lists of duos, trios, quartets and quintets. Granted, they are all fine young pianists. The acid test is the following 5-10 years post-competition.

  • Peter says:

    What is the right proportion of British qualifiers for an international competition held in UK ?
    Incidentally, UK has about 0.9% of world population, vs 6% of this year’s qualifiers. Is that too many or too few ?
    Intriguingly, china has 18% of world population, and 11 out of 63 qualifiers is…… nearly 18%.

  • fliszt says:

    I’m sorry, but the Leeds jury is for the most part a joke. There are FAR more qualified artists available to judge this competition!!

  • JussiB says:

    Slippedisc is a UK blog and naturally biased toward heritage and royalty at the expense of merit.

  • Nick2 says:

    21 from Asia and 6 others seemingly of Asian descent. Is that some sort of record?

  • john humphreys says:

    Wonderful to see that it is happening and to recognise so many fine pianists from previous Dudley International Piano Competitions. All truly wonderful players. Interesting to see that the Artistic Director’s cv is roughly twice the length of that of other jury members. It was ever thus at Leeds…

  • John Humphreys says:

    You mention that only four of the competitors are from the UK Norman. I forgot to add that Dame Fanny was pretty disparaging about young British pianism. A cursory glance at the list of UK pianistic luminaries from the last thirty or so years might have given her pause for thought. According to her the music colleges are to blame – they don’t know how to teach.

  • JussiB says:

    China is not only dominating 21st Century world economy but also apparently piano competitions.

  • Horbus Rohebian says:

    There seems to be more of a whiff that 2021 Leeds is more to do with those running it than the competitors. Again, peruse the cv of the Artistic Director, Mr Gatehouse. Such a shame, competitions should be much more than a showcase for the organisers however needy their expectations

  • Raro2021 says:

    Perhaps this attention to country of birth is misleading. Many of these “Chinese” pianists are studying in the U.S. and in Europe.

  • Carsten W says:

    It seems that many of you are very frustrated with the fact that corruption is not so uncommon in classical music competitions. And you should be. Corruption runs rampant throughout the entire industry, sometimes destroying lives.

    But here is the important point: Do YOU have what it takes (the talent, magic…whatever you want to call it) to make the public so enraptured with your playing that people would absolutely refuse to miss your concert when you come to their region? Very few artists, even the best of the best, have that ability, especially in recent decades as there are less people interested in classical music. We should be grateful that there is any industry left at all.

    The reality is that 99% of you are like the people who are better than average at karaoke. Oh wait…I see the gears turning. Your ego says, “**** this person! I’m going to start working harder than ever before to prove that I’m part of the 1%!” There are people that literally practice 12+ hours every single day for years who never get anywhere while some musicians that are lucky to even get in an hour a day hold the keys to the kingdom because they are simply fantastic. Inequality is a very real thing and there is a tendency to blame mankind for it when in reality it’s Mother Nature at work behind the scenes.

    Sometimes throwing large sums of money at questionable promotional efforts or “whining” and dining professors in order to get some help can cloud up reality for a bit. Sooner or later, however, the clouds will part to show the true skies.