Man wins Malko

Man wins Malko


norman lebrecht

June 13, 2021

The Malko Conducting Competition, impeccably gender equal to the final gasp, has been won by an uncommonly gifted Belorussian, Dmitry Matvienko.

He is 32 and a former assistant to Vladimir Jurowski.


  • womandidnotwin says:

    Where are the haters now with all those false predictions? I await your comments.

  • May says:

    They should not have awarded a second or third prize this year, or split the third prize. This is a conducting competition, not a lip-syncing air-conducting pantomime competition. There was zero excitement in Cui’s performance, just someone waving a stick around. Same goes for Dufresne. These are conductors who put on their Airpods and start conducting in front of a mirror.

    • FrauGeigerin says:

      That is what many young conductors of our time are: sweaty, energy-driven, jumping, selfie-taking, self-image-obsessed, ignorant dancers. Conductors who don’t know that what they do feels great to them, but it is not leading and has little effect on the orchestras playing.

      But what can we expect from music directors aged 23-27 who already have had full time careers for 4-5 years? Conductors who haven’t really had time to try and fail as conductors, to read, to live?

      Conducting has become something too important (or at least something that is given a lot more importance than what it really has), and the image of talent, charisma, of all classical music usw. It is a very marketable image, and other marketable characteristics such as youthfulness, handsome physical appearance, and energy are seeked. (And with the current fashion race and sex race are also important and marketable). Highly saleable conductors are pushed into careers for which they are not ready (or for which they are not talented enough), and it damages music, distorts the perception of what musicians do or should do, and promotes characteristics that don’t make anyone a better musician.

      Once a year we have a small group of conductors from a major conservatoire conducting us as part of the end of their 5-year degree. It is just embarrassing seeing these young men and women finish their studies – some of them go into international careers -, and really not having understood that they should be on the podium to serve the music, not themselves; that they should really cultivate themselves above average; that everything they do on the podium should have an effect on the music; and that they do not conduct for the audience (the result of their conducting is to be heard, not seen).

      • Another Young Conductor says:

        Dear FrauGeigerin,

        Of all your comments on this website I ever saw, this one is the first one that isn’t purely insulting, and I agree for the most parts with you. Since you are an orchestral player (and from what you tell us, it might be with a certain Radio Symphony?), I can understand your frustration but would also like to point out your opportunity. The truth is, most of these 24 young conductors (I met almost all of them) aren’t selfie-taking, self-image-obsessed at all. Some are sweaty, as is Noseda. Some are jumping, as are many that aren’t too old. Same for energy-driven.

        The real problem is the ignorance, and since I went through the typical conductor’s education I can see how this manifests itself. Every conservatory or university tries to teach to a young person something about conducting within 3-5 years, depending on which degree a school can offer. Most students are beginning to conduct there, because only in very few countries there are possibilities to study conducting before college level. Everybody has a different background, some are pianists, some are orchestral players, some are composers. Now 3 or 5 years is incredibly little before going into professional life. I would assume you played the violin longer than that before you won your audition.
        After these conductors finish school, they are stressed because they aren’t yet ready and have to take any opportunity to keep learning. Assisting someone, doing a family concert here and there. If they don’t get management, they are out of the game soon. And if they get far in a competition, they might get some gig somewhere, or a manager. It’s just a small hope to be allowed to develop further.

        Now the problem when we are taking the first steps in the professional world is – hardly any orchestra player will walk up to us and give us honest and constructive feedback. Only the ones that like us will talk to us, all the rest just disappears, maybe doesn’t even greet us in the hallway.
        A lot of us aren’t quite sure if the things we say or do are done the best way possible. As long as it sounds better we have to be ok with what we did, knowing that it might be totally unrelated to the words or gestures we used. Sometimes the orchestra just gets better by playing it twice, or the concertmaster takes over.

        So my personal wish to you is: When you have an unexperienced conductor in front of you, take the opportunity to tell them in the break if something is technically impossible or unclear. And more importantly, tell them which words to use instead! If they stay in the game, orchestras all over the world will suffer for decades from those problems, but you personally can help solve them! Maybe someone won’t be able to change immediately, but if you use good words, they stay with us and we think about them for a long time. If I ever have the chance to conduct your orchestra, I am waiting for your feedback and I’ll be honored when I get it!

        And if I guessed your orchestra right, why don’t we go for coffee some time… 😉

        Best wishes!

      • May says:

        I could not agree more strongly. I was disappointed with this year’s contestants at the Malko Competition. Have any of them mastered an instrument or played chamber music or accompanied singers? The only things that the majority of the contestants have mastered are farcical facial contortions and meaningless muscle movements. Were it not for the proficiency of the orchestra, most of the conductors would have successfully driven the train off the track as a result of their terrible conducting. Instead of setting an age limit for the contestants, it would be make more sense to insist on a MINIMUM age, e.g. 27 years. Maybe then we would have fewer histrionic outbursts and more MUSIC MAKING.

  • Peter says:

    After all these gender-obsessed Malko posts, I would imagine the correct headline to be “Person with penis wins Malko.”

  • Anon says:

    Trained under Jurowski +5
    That face he’s making in this photo -3
    Won this first prize +1
    Total score 3

  • Also Sprach Pierrot says:

    Matvienko was an absolute joy to watch. Looking forward to seeing the great work he does on the circuit!

  • BrianB says:

    So what?

  • Nep says:

    It’s always funny to review how he ruined the finale of Firebird. Not to mention how the brass players switched into an auto-pilot mode. The Malko Competition really make the 2021 edition unforgettable.

    Oh, Cui? Who can point out what did she actually rehearsed? “Inner sound” and “heaven’s gate opening?” And Cui won the 2nd prize.

  • Chairman says:

    Mahler competition (RIP 2020)
    Malko competition (RIP 2021)

  • Novagerio says:

    How about: “Young conductor wins Malko”?…

  • Tamino says:

    Very sexist headline. A disservice to all the hard working musicians.

  • ales says: