How the judges scored the Chopin Competition

How the judges scored the Chopin Competition


norman lebrecht

January 03, 2022

The 2021 score sheets have been quietly published online. Here.

The winner, Bruce Liu, is way out front with everyone on the panel except the American juror Kevin Kenner and the Polish chair Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, who give him 21 and 20.

Kenner sved his top mark for the Russian-Armenia Eva Gevorgyan.

The lowest marks, 17 and 18, were logged for a Polish and an American contestant.



  • IP says:

    Apart from statistics, I am an expert on Reine Elizabeth, where the usual pattern is: a highly individual and musical Bulgarian gets second, and an athletic, Rachmaninov-playing Russian girl first.
    If you want me to analyse Warsaw, I have some tricks to put the nationalities of the jurors and competitors on the plot without introducing any bias.

  • David Legg says:

    To me, all the marks seem quite closely spaced.

  • Paul Wells says:

    “Has been quietly published online” = “on their website, where they publish all their news, in the normal place. Two months ago. In November. I ignored it at the time, even though there were comments about it on SD.”

    On the substance of the thing, it’s fun to note that Martin Garcia Garcia was the lowest-scored competitor to escape the first round, and that the Polish judges were pretty consistently unimpressed at first, while judges from elsewhere liked him quite a bit. I like that polarizing effect, although in the nature of things, not everyone will.

    About Xiaoyu Liu there’s less to say: he led clearly in the aggregate scoring in every round, though even in the final concerto round, fully eight judges preferred at least one other pianist. Of course that’s no scandal. Different people will hear different things. But it may help explain why the jury had to vote again (as permitted by the rules) to decide the awards.

    (Kenner’s highest mark in the last round actually went to JJ Jun Li Bui, not Gevorgyan as stated here.)

    • Jonathan Sutherland says:

      Mr Wells is correct in that the scores were published on the 2021 Chopin Competition website on 4th November but there was no Press release or public notification whatsoever.
      Even if ‘transparency’ was the stated objective, it certainly didn’t look that way.
      In fact the whole business seems as murky as an overcooked and slightly rancid bigos.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Xiaoyu Liu

      It’s rather unfortunate that he seems to have adopted the somewhat hackneyed and unremarkable “Bruce” as a first name. Where I come from ‘Bruce’ is an embarrassment as a name!!

  • John Borstlap says:

    There should be no doubt about the stunning mastery of Bruce Liu, and his winning is well-deserved. But such tables give the impression of very concrete evaluations of all the aspects of performance, which is misleading. How to correctly judge the balance of all the components of a performance? It is all fairly subjective. In such competitions, the only really valuable selection process is to filter-out the top category and the people below that level. Then you end-up with a group of players within a category of mastery. Any further selection is in a grey area of subjectivity, which means that the winner is the outcome of chance rather than him/her being really ‘better’ than the competition.

    If some contestants share a comparable number of marks, this can only be an average and says nothing specific about the performances. And then, above a certain level, all performers have to be judged more or less equal, the differences being a matter of taste.

  • Mark says:

    I know from a close source that Martha did not like Bruce at all and liked Garcia Garcia most in the final.

  • Warner says:

    Compromise is always rotten, by definition.

    Liu and Gevorgian share same characteristic, for them it’s a sport and they want to master it, even in expressing the emotions. One can only wander if those are real.

    I doubt Chopin would enjoy the play of such olympians, I think he would much prefer the play of the quirks like Sorita or Gadijev.

    • The Real Chopin says:

      People really need to stop inserting their opinions as if they are Chopin’s to give more validation. YOU think Sorita or Gadijev is better for YOUR taste. That is it. Leave Chopin out of it.

    • Op. 2 says:

      I think Chopin would perhaps find Liu’s performance on the Don Juan variations somewhat refreshing/satisfying.

    • Mark says:

      Well 2nd and 3rd prize winners are usually better than the winner. It was the same in 2015, both Hamelin and Kate Liu are much more interesting personalities than Cho, even if he is the best technician.

  • Tweettweet says:

    It’s a pity that the competition didn’t close the results of the fourth round, including the results of the voting process in the finals they describe.

  • Lim says:

    I think to be fair and transparent the voting results of everything must be made public.

  • fliszt says:

    More interesting would be to see the scores from the 1955 competition – when Ashkenazy came in 2nd to Adam Harasiewicz. Huh? Let’s get to the bottom of that mystery!

  • Lim says:

    In terms of transparency the finals scores should be made public