Contests: The Agony of the Tchaikovsky

"I suffer agony to see young artists go through the humiliation of a competition," grumbled Cellist Gregor Piatigorsky last week. "The joy of those who succeed is spoiled by the sorrow of those who have been hurt."

The cellist had just returned to the U.S. after serving as a judge at the most grueling music contest in the music world: Moscow's Third International Tchaikovsky Competition. Visibly weary after having heard 42 cellists play virtually the same music scores of times, Piatigorsky complained: "It is the obligation of people of art to find some...

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