Next Tchaikovsky competition: a tale of two cities

06.30.10
International Tchaikovsky Competition
The Voice of Russia

By Andrusenko Yelena 

Next year’s Tchaikovsky Competition, number 14 since inception, will be not confined to the Russian capital Moscow. It will be held in two cities instead, with Moscow hosting the contests of pianists and cellists, and St. Petersburg - the contests of violinists and vocalists.

The chief organizer of the Competition, Russian conductor Valeri Gergiyev explains why:
"In the remaining 12 months, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, which usually serves the main venue, is unlikely to emerge from a renovation project. Meanwhile, St. Petersburg possesses two magnificent music halls with top-notch resident orchestras. This means it can easily lend a helping hand when it comes to organizing an international contest. And after all, St. Pete is where Pyotr Tchaikovski first hit the circuit as a composer."

Others disagree, recalling Tchaikovsky’s heyday in Moscow. Indeed, Tchaikovsky spent decades as Professor of Moscow Conservatory. His first piano concerto was written for the Conservatory’s founder Nikolai Rubinstein and first performed in public by the Conservatory graduate, subsequently a composer, Sergei Taneyev. In a small park in front of the Conservatory’s main building in downtown Moscow now stands a statue of Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Sharing the next Tchaikovsky competition with St. Pete is seen by many as something of a snub for the Russian capital.

Valeri Gergiyev shrugs this off, saying quality is his main concern: "If it is ever to regain its former standing in the music world, the Competition has to be innovative and inventive. Moving part of it to St. Pete appears to have worked. The jury of the vocalists contest is to work under the overall guidance of Placido Domingo. This is an excellent way for him to mark his 70th birthday next year. The guests will include the great conductor Riccardo Muti. The presence of such giants is a much stronger attractor than the Competition’s prize fund. A winner at Tchaikovsky is welcome to any orchestra and any opera company."

The Competition also has to correct a situation in which some of its recent winners did not make it to stardom