The International Tchaikovsky Competition, one of the world’s most prestigious music competitions, was overshadowed this year by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Many performers skipped the four-year festival because to Western sanctions.
Russia was accused of manipulating the music competition to retain its global status by proceeding.
In 1958, when the West believed the USSR was invincible, the competition began.
236 young artists from 23 nations—including Japan—are participating this year. Western musicians are down 80% from four years ago. Chinese musicians have sixfolded.
At the June 19 opening ceremony, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova declared, “Russian culture is being boycotted, but there is no politics in art and no national borders in music.”
“This competition is famous in China and it was always my dream as a child to take part,” said a Chinese female musician.
China has 48 musicians in the competition. Only Russia had more participants, with half from the host nation.
Moscow labeled nations that invaded Ukraine “unfriendly” after February 2022 sanctions. Only 38 players are from unfriendly nations, a third less than in 2019.
Japanese musicians were ambivalent about participating.
“Even under these circumstances, the Russian audience was warm in its applause.”
Another Japanese artist said: “I have long respected a violinist who performed from when the Soviet Union existed. I couldn’t not participate.”
Another Japanese remarked, “My family tried to stop me from attending, but I never wavered. I don’t care about politics and have many wonderful Russian friends.”
Valery Gergiev, creative and general director of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, chairs the International Tchaikovsky Competition organizing committee.
Gergiev told Putin the competition’s importance.
Gergiev remarked, “We will create an opportunity for young people to display their abilities to the world in an environment that allows them to concentrate on music that is not tied to any political conspiracy,” to launch the competition.
Western orchestras fired him for not apologizing for the Ukrainian incursion. Gergiev called Western attempts to erase Russian culture by not presenting Russian classical music ridiculous.
Putin telegramed participants, “This legendary competition is being considered as one of the major musical events of the world as in the past.”
Putin has congratulated winners and attended performances till July 1.