Some prominent music critics and commentators worldwide have complained lately that the significant piano competitions have fallen behind: weak sponsorship, even weaker attendance, and nonexistent coverage by the mainstream media.
One of the easiest excuses is that the ‘public ‘needs to be cultivated more and that around 2% of the population follows classical music. This is true, but it was always so throughout history.
Could it be that competitions have distanced themselves from the needs of our societies, even if we were talking about the intellectual and aesthetic elite? Could it be that the juries and committees have forged closed partnerships and, in reality, predetermine the outcomes?
Top-notch names from this industry have detailed the failing system of grades a major competition usually deploys these days. They have explained the mathematical games played by jury members to undermine a particular candidate so that another candidate gets a high score and vice versa.
In the meantime, a perplexed audience cannot fathom why this or that winner was chosen, and winners wear the laurels of victory but have no requirements to bring audiences back into the concert halls.
The same industry often attempts to solve the problem via aggressive marketing techniques: focusing on the artists’ looks, lifestyle, personal life, and picturesque routine via social media. So how did we end up here?
Competitions attempt to quantify artistic results. Jurors count how many mistakes you made, how many golden rules you broke, and how many disagreements you initiated among the critics in the panel. Therefore, the candidate destined to win will be no ground-breaking artist of absolute singularity but a diplomat of sorts, a manager of musical content who succeeded in avoiding controversy.
No wonder things have gone so dull and so wrong as a consequence…
In the following article, we will discuss what could be done to regain major international piano competitions’ lost glory and relevance.