Rhinegold Photo credit: Medici TV
An Tianxu is visibly distressed as the orchestra opens with Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini rather than Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1

Josephine Miles

Tchaikovsky finalist’s chances scuppered after programme mix-up

9:46, 27th June 2019

The chances of Chinese pianist An Tianxu succeeding in the 2019 International Tchaikovsky Competition have been ruined due to an administrative error

Tianxu, aged 20, was expecting to perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 in B-flat minor followed by Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in his final bid for the USD $30,000 prize.

However, a member of the Svetlanov Orchestra’s administrative staff placed the scores in the wrong order on the orchestra’s and conductor Vasily Petrenko’s music stands. The Tchaikovsky Concerto was announced before Tianxu’s performance began, but the Russian announcer then said, ‘excuse me’, and announced the Rachmaninov Rhapsody instead.

Tianxu, unable to understand Russian, was not privy to the accidental change in the order of the programme and was clearly shocked when the orchestra began playing the Rachmaninov Rhapsody. Having only a couple of seconds to adjust, his first entry was significantly – and understandably – late.

Jury chair Denis Matsuev offered the pianist the chance to play his programme again, but An Tianxu declined.

The Tchaikovsky Competition has issued a statement explaining the mistake and the culpable member of staff has been fired.

Watch An Tianxu’s performance on Medici TV here    

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