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#2034308 - 02/16/13 03:19 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]
JoelW Offline
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Registered: 05/25/12
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Loc: USA
I've only been briefly skimming, but it sounds to me like the Cliburn is wants to be something it's not. No?

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#2034332 - 02/16/13 04:18 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Since so much of the recent discussion has centered on one contestant, I thought I needed to add something more. We are ostensibly talking about general criteria, but he has been used as Exhibit A in many of the posts. I noted that I'm an example that shows the difficulty of relying on certain criteria. I think he's an example of the difficulty of relying on some others, including the conservatory thing.

First of all, I don't think he has a "doctorate," but no matter. He did have advanced training at that conservatory, and so that point remains.

As I mentioned, I do know him and I know his basic story but not all the details, so please pardon that some of this is vague. Yes, he had advanced professional training, and I'll even add further that he was an extraordinary talent, probably remarkable even for someone with that training. However, when he applied to leave the Soviet Union, he came under the kind of persecution that often occurred, including that he wasn't able to play the piano at all for some years. He lost a lot of what he had, including not only virtually everything tangible but also much of his pianistic ability. He's no longer what he was. Sure, in line with what Ronald and others have said, there are aspects that stay with someone who was a prodigy and had advanced training from an early age, but.....I think this is a special case, not just because of the lost ability but because of his particular history.

In the abstract, I might agree with the idea that someone with conservatory training shouldn't be eligible for these amateur competitions. In fact, I used to think that. It's mainly because of my acquaintance with these specific people and participation in these events that I so much value their participation and would hate to see it lost. But at least speaking for me, even if I were still against it in theory, I'd want to make an exception for someone like Slava, and it pains me to see him continually used as a supposed slam-dunk illustration of someone who doesn't belong in these events. Someone like him comes along and says, I'd like to be in these amateur events -- you let him, with appreciation and with sympathy and open arms.

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#2034374 - 02/16/13 05:27 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Since so much of the recent discussion has centered on one contestant, I thought I needed to add something more. We are ostensibly talking about general criteria, but he has been used as Exhibit A in many of the posts. I noted that I'm an example that shows the difficulty of relying on certain criteria. I think he's an example of the difficulty of relying on some others, including the conservatory thing.

First of all, I don't think he has a "doctorate," but no matter. He did have advanced training at that conservatory, and so that point remains.

As I mentioned, I do know him and I know his basic story but not all the details, so please pardon that some of this is vague. Yes, he had advanced professional training, and I'll even add further that he was an extraordinary talent, probably remarkable even for someone with that training. However, when he applied to leave the Soviet Union, he came under the kind of persecution that often occurred, including that he wasn't able to play the piano at all for some years. He lost a lot of what he had, including not only virtually everything tangible but also much of his pianistic ability. He's no longer what he was. Sure, in line with what Ronald and others have said, there are aspects that stay with someone who was a prodigy and had advanced training from an early age, but.....I think this is a special case, not just because of the lost ability but because of his particular history.

Whether this pianist has a doctorate from Moscow conservatory or some lesser degree hardly seems to be relevant.

Nothing in your post convinces me he should be allowed to play in an amateur event anymore than Roger Federer should be allowed to play an amateur tennis tournament if he quit playing tennis and decided to enter an amateur tournament 10 years later. The Cliburn shouldn't be like American Idol where the human interest story overrides other considerations of basic fairness. Why is it relevant that he couldn't play for some years? The fact remains that few would call him an amateur. It's not really complicated.

According to the list posted previously, an astonishing number of the finalists in the recent Cliburn amateur had similar degrees. I think many people would lose respect for the Cliburn as an "amateur" competition if they understood the details.

The Cliburn could change the title of their competition so that it was obvious that non amateurs are allowed to compete. The idea that people who are no longer professionals become amateurs is silly.

Why on earth would anyone with that kind of background want to compete in an amateur competition?



Edited by pianoloverus (02/16/13 06:50 PM)

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#2034523 - 02/16/13 11:17 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1474
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

The whole thing as it stands is, I think, rather pathetic and highly deceptive. What are these former conservatory students trying to prove? The most obvious answer is that it's some kind of ego trip for them, but if they are thinking correctly it should be embarrassing to compete with true amateurs.


They are not embarrassed. If they were, they would not have entered these amateur competitions.

The main problem is that the organizers also like to have these people in the competitions. These ex-professionals make the competitions look impressive to people who do not know the background of these ex-professionals. They think it is wonderful and impressive that middle ages people/ grand mothers or grand fathers can play like that. If people really know, they would not be that impressed.

My first piano teacher went to Moscow Conservatory. After finishing the first year, he must join the military service for 2 years. He could not play for 2 years, and afraid that once he returned, he would be able to play piano. By the way, he got beaten in the service too, it was not pleasant at all. However, to his surprise, he was able to regain his piano playing ability in a very short time, and competed in Tchaikovsky and got into semifinal. I think once one acquired solid basic piano skill, it is difficult to lose it.

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#2034533 - 02/17/13 12:20 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Whether this pianist has a doctorate from Moscow conservatory or some lesser degree hardly seems to be relevant....

I said so. I hope you noticed.

Your eagerness to argue against me, even when what I've said is exactly what you go on to say, is perhaps the most interesting thing of your post. grin

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#2034550 - 02/17/13 01:33 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1474
This about Slava Levin

http://books.google.com/books?id=TZkPUK0...ano&f=false

He studied at Moscow Conservatory from 1975 to 1983 ( 8 years), he does have doctorate degree in music performance (piano I guess).

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#2034553 - 02/17/13 01:42 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: RonaldSteinway]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
....he does have doctorate degree....

OK! ✔
As I said, I wasn't sure. I thought he didn't but I acknowledged that for what you were saying it wouldn't have mattered even if he didn't since it was a given that he had advanced training, beyond the bachelor's. I had thought it was 'just' the equivalent of what we call the master's in the U.S. -- and to tell you the truth I'm not sure the book has it right that it was a doctorate. But as far as I'm concerned your argument would be equally strong for 'just' a master's degree in piano from a top conservatory as it would be for a doctorate.

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#2034639 - 02/17/13 08:43 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1474
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
and to tell you the truth I'm not sure the book has it right that it was a doctorate.


If I remember correctly in the "They Came toPlay", the wife also said that SL has doctorate degree.

To be honest about this amateur competition, non piano major people are in the minority. Nothing can be done, as long as most of the participants are piano degree people. The only remedy is to give an award to the best non degree people in the competition. It will basically say that the winner is the best real amateur in the competition.

Definition of real amateur : A person who never entered a conservatory, received degree in music (composition, guitar, theory, etc), competed in a professional competition.

Preventing ex-professionals from competing in amateur competitions is also not a good idea. The excitement will subside dramatically, the drive to improve the quality of playing of non degree people will also diminish. I agree with Mark that having ex-professionals is fun.

To me, it is unrealistic to expect to win if there are tons of ex-professionals around. Within the first 10 seconds, the judges can tell that the tone quality, the way the two groups perform, etc, etc are totally different. Non degree people should have reasonable goals, for example, did I play better than my last performance in the other amateur competitions, did I play cleaner, more expressive etc. Everything is against ourselves, don't worry about others, because most of them have different piano background. If non degree people keep wanting to place, they will be disappointed. Just perform the best, and have fun with all piano people. That is it from me.

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#2034643 - 02/17/13 09:00 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Whether this pianist has a doctorate from Moscow conservatory or some lesser degree hardly seems to be relevant....

I said so. I hope you noticed.
Of course I saw what you wrote, but the point is if it was irrelevant why say it in the first place?

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#2034652 - 02/17/13 09:29 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: RonaldSteinway]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
To be honest about this amateur competition, non piano major people are in the minority. Nothing can be done, as long as most of the participants are piano degree people. The only remedy is to give an award to the best non degree people in the competition. It will basically say that the winner is the best real amateur in the competition.

Definition of real amateur : A person who never entered a conservatory, received degree in music (composition, guitar, theory, etc), competed in a professional competition.
I think you idea about giving an award to the best real amateur makes sense. I would make the award equal in prestige or anything else to the award given to the "formerly a professional" winner. The only part of your idea I might change is the definition of amateur. I think those with a degree in music but not in piano could be allowed to compete in the really an amateur division. I think the names of competitions should be changed to reflect the fact they include non amateurs if that is the case.

I think one possible solution is to have two separate divisions...one for real amateurs and one for former professionals. The competition could be honest and describe the formerly a professional division for what it is and people would still be impressed/interested that these now lawyers, doctors or whatever profession they are now have maintained or improved their skill while pursuing another career. Yes, the overall level of playing in the real amateur division would be lower but still high enough to make sense. I suppose there are some true amateurs who would rather have very little chance to do well in terms of a prize but have what they think of as the prestige of competing against conservatory graduates, but I think that is just an ego thing.

IMO the most important thing to realize is that a professional who has switched from a music career to some other field should not be called an amateur anymore than Roger Federer should be considered an amateur if he retires from tennis and ten years later decides he wants enter a local amateur tournament.

There is no perfect solution but leaving things the way they are is IMO the least desirable path.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/17/13 09:47 AM)

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#2034714 - 02/17/13 11:34 AM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19664
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Of course I saw what you wrote, but the point is if it was irrelevant why say it in the first place?

Just 'for the record,' along with saying that it didn't matter for the discussion.

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#2034927 - 02/17/13 06:58 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1474
Pianoloverus,

Your Roger Federer example is a perfect example. People who know how to play tennis can relate to your example.
Even if RF stops playing for 5 or even 10 years, he will be beat ANY real amateur tennis players older than 35 years, if we give him, say, 3 months to practice (assuming he is still healthy).
It is the same like Slava Levin, he might not be able to play for sometimes during the process of moving to the US, once he started practicing again, he could easily shine among real amateurs or people with piano degree who graduated from low level music schools or conservatories. As it had been proven, he was able to get into final in virtually all of the amateur competitions that he entered.

About changing the name is even less likely to happen. The organizers want to WOW people. They want people to think that the participants are grand fathers and grand mothers who happened to be talented. If the name of the competition "Adult Piano competition", it will not be as impressive as "Adult Amateur Piano Competition".

I agree with you to have two classes in the competition. But again, Mark C also against this idea. To me, as long as the real amateurs are allowed to enter the open class, it should be ok. The only difference is that the piano degree people cannot enter the lower division.

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#2034939 - 02/17/13 07:28 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: RonaldSteinway]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
....he was able to get into final in virtually all of the amateur competitions that he entered.

Good of you to hedge, since you weren't sure, but I'm pretty sure it's absolutely all. smile

And before 'anyone' grin starts making too much of that, I said it just for the record. It doesn't affect the discussion.

Quote:
I agree with you to have two classes in the competition. But again, Mark C also against this idea. To me, as long as the real amateurs are allowed to enter the open class, it should be ok....

I think it dilutes and complicates the event and makes it less appealing, both for the public and for most potential competitors. I personally would be much less motivated to attend such an event at all, as either spectator or participant, and if I did participate, as you said it would be in the upper division. I'd rather 'fail' against equal and better contestants than win against people who are mostly at a lower level.

You might wonder, shouldn't the quasi-professionals you're talking about feel the same, and eschew participating in competitions with lesser candidates? The thing is, this is the highest level there is for non-professionals -- and while you don't consider them amateurs, they don't consider themselves professionals, and it works for me and for many others, if not for you.

Something that is perhaps getting lost here is that the Cliburn amateur competitions have been tremendously successful events. Some of you are talking as though the Cliburn amateur competition has some huge problem and that it has not been well received, but in fact it has been spectacularly well received. Of course there's no problem about expressing opinions on who should or shouldn't be eligible, but discussing it as though there's some huge problem with the competition seems pretty off the mark.

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#2034951 - 02/17/13 07:45 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: carey]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
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Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: carey
Just a thought. When it comes to "performance degrees," standards vary significantly from institution to institution. I've known a few individuals with degrees in piano performance from lesser schools who probably wouldn't be able to pass the undergraduate entrance auditions for the better universities/conservatories.


I think this bears repeating. It is unrealistic to lump all performance degrees into one basket and assume the recipients have the same levels of proficiency.

I realize this has been discussed to death in other threads, but according to at least one definition, an amateur is "a person who engages in an art, science, study, or athletic activity as a pastime rather than as a profession." What's wrong with simply defining "amateur" in this context ?? If someone earns an MM or DMA in performance and then goes on to make their living in a completely different profession, why shouldn't they be allowed to participate? In a sense, degrees are meaningless. You're either an amateur or you're not. If some amateurs have extensive training and play at a very high level - why should that be held against them?? And for that matter, someone who was "professional" for a time (whatever the heck that really means - because professional can refer to teaching and performing in a variety of situations for pay) should also be eligible to participate if they really feel compelled to do so.
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#2034959 - 02/17/13 08:02 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: P I A N O piano]
Sorcerer88 Offline
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Registered: 10/11/08
Posts: 177
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About the Roger Federer comparison: I actually find it quite unfitting. RF is one of the best tennis players in the world, currently ranked #2 on the ATP Tour. The comparison to Slava Levin pales. He is certainly not seen as one of the best pianists in the world and he certainly hasn't made a fortune in music, he didn't have any career in it.
The tennis world might not be the best place to look for comparisons, but if at all, you should look at someone who trained for years, participated in some tennis tournaments and eventually became a coach (or an IT specialist for that matter). Of course one shouldn't allow Federer to amateur tournaments, just like Horowitz or Marc-André Hamelin would be misplaced in the VCA.

For the record, i'm on carey's and Mark C's side. I don't find the arguments of their professional training compelling to rob them (and others) the pleasure of participating in amateur competitions, but your (the anti-degree group's) points per se are hard to refute, and I don't think any discussion will change your opinion. I have benefitted from your arguments though, i didn't know so many people had degrees in the Van Cliburn Amateur and i understand your perspective.


Edited by Sorcerer88 (02/17/13 08:11 PM)
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#2034965 - 02/17/13 08:14 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Something that is perhaps getting lost here is that the Cliburn amateur competitions have been tremendously successful events. Some of you are talking as though the Cliburn amateur competition has some huge problem and that it has not been well received, but in fact it has been spectacularly well received. Of course there's no problem about expressing opinions on who should or shouldn't be eligible, but discussing it as though there's some huge problem with the competition seems pretty off the mark.
Not at all. IMO it's basically dishonest in terms of the way it's set up as an "amateur" competition. You have even admitted several times that one of the reasons it allows conservatory graduates is so that the finals will look "impressive".

I think if it was well known about the background of many of the finalists many (and probably most) would have the same problems with the competition that I have. The fact that the competition has been a success, either commercially or in terms of drawing participants, doesn't mean it doesn't serious problems like the type I and others on this thread have suggested.

Similarly, the Cliburn competition for professionals has had big success both commercially and in the mind of much of the public, but those with more knowledge about it know it has not been without big problems beginning with the relative lack of success of its winners compared to the other very big competitions. The competition is extremely good at publicity.

The idea that a professional who has begun a new career is now an amateur is simply not reasonable. It could be argued they were in some in between designation but calling them amateur is not reasonable. It's not complicated...it's plain common sense and the ordinary use of the term although you refuse to accept it.



Edited by pianoloverus (02/17/13 08:51 PM)

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#2034966 - 02/17/13 08:17 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Sorcerer88]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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Originally Posted By: Sorcerer88
About the Roger Federer comparison: I actually find it quite unfitting. RF is one of the best tennis players in the world, currently ranked #2 on the ATP Tour. The comparison to Slava Levin pales. He is certainly not seen as one of the best pianists in the world and he certainly hasn't made a fortune in music, he didn't have any career in it.
My thinking would be the same for anyone who has played professional tennis even if they had only been ranked 1000 in the world. You can replace Roger Federer by No.1000 if that makes my point more convincing.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/17/13 08:46 PM)

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#2034975 - 02/17/13 08:35 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: RonaldSteinway
....he was able to get into final in virtually all of the amateur competitions that he entered.

Good of you to hedge, since you weren't sure, but I'm pretty sure it's absolutely all. smile

And before 'anyone' grin starts making too much of that, I said it just for the record. It doesn't affect the discussion.

You can't resist the nasty jab with the sarcastic smiley next to it.

Of course it affects the discussion. It shows how one sided things are when former professionals are allowed to enter an amateur competition.

Why on earth would a former professional even want to enter a so called amateur competition? A severe lack of pride I think. This reminds me of some chess players who, before certain rules made it difficult, would purposely lose some games before a tournament so they could play in a lower rated division.

Just call the competition what it really is and choose a more appropriate name for it if the organizers want to allow former professionals to participate. Or have two divisions with equal prizes or whatever they get.

The huge majority of former professional pianists who live in the U.S. obviously don't enter the Cliburn amateur or any amateur competitions. I doubt it ever crosses their mind as a possibility. There could be many possible reasons but I think most would find it embarrassing and inappropriate to do so.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/17/13 08:44 PM)

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#2034978 - 02/17/13 08:44 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Of course it affects the discussion. It shows how one sided things are when former professionals are allowed to enter an amateur competition....

Well then, shouldn't you be commending me for going out of my way to mention something that helps your side? grin

Can't help it, I'm all heart. ha

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#2034982 - 02/17/13 08:53 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Of course it affects the discussion. It shows how one sided things are when former professionals are allowed to enter an amateur competition....

Well then, shouldn't you be commending me for going out of my way to mention something that helps your side? grin

Can't help it, I'm all heart. ha
You certainly didn't go out of your way(that's just more sarcasm), but you did mention something that diminishes your argument.

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#2035366 - 02/18/13 04:29 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: pianoloverus]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1474
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

The huge majority of former professional pianists who live in the U.S. obviously don't enter the Cliburn amateur or any amateur competitions. I doubt it ever crosses their mind as a possibility. There could be many possible reasons but I think most would find it embarrassing and inappropriate to do so.


Thanks God that most of former professional pianists have decency! Only the shameless ones will participate in amateur competitions. I had this discussion with my teacher who earned degrees from Moscow and Juilliard, and had participated in real Van Cliburn and Tchaikovsky. One word he said "Those people are disgusting!"

It is a mutual symbiosis between the organizers and the glory hunger individuals. Because of this mutual symbiosis, it is virtually impossible to change the system.

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#2035390 - 02/18/13 05:26 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: RonaldSteinway]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Sorry, but I think his comment was pretty disgusting, and if you're quoting accurately, it seems to suggest a person who isn't very pleasant.

Also, I think it's safe to say that there are relatively few "former professional pianists," and among those, I would judge on a case-by-case basis how reasonable it is or isn't for them to enter amateur competitions. Among the considerations would be the circumstances of why they stopped being professionals, and what they've done since then.

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#2035533 - 02/18/13 10:41 PM Re: They Came to Play [Re: Mark_C]
RonaldSteinway Offline
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Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1474
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Sorry, but I think his comment was pretty disgusting, and if you're quoting accurately, it seems to suggest a person who isn't very pleasant.

Also, I think it's safe to say that there are relatively few "former professional pianists," and among those, I would judge on a case-by-case basis how reasonable it is or isn't for them to enter amateur competitions. Among the considerations would be the circumstances of why they stopped being professionals, and what they've done since then.


Yes, I quoted perfectly what he said. He might think that it is disgusting for ex-professionals to lower themselves to the amateur level.

To me, regardless the reasons or circumstances , ex-professionals still can play at professional level (unless they got stroke). They will not lose their musicality. They may a bit rusty technically, but after practicing a year or two, they should be able to regain most of their technical ability, and play way above the level of non-professionals.

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Feurich 190 cm grand from 1920 - Is it any good?
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