The 21st Tchaikovsky International Music Competition opened yesterday in the main concert hall of the Moscow Conservatory. The competition, which takes place once every four years, is one of the world's major musical festivals, and one of the most important events in the cultural life of Russia.
The 2002 competition is unique in that it takes place in five of the best concert halls in the capital: the Large and Small Halls of the Moscow Conservatory, the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, the Column Hall and the concert hall of the Moscow Slobodkin Theatre and Concert Centre. It is also unusual in that the preliminary selection this time took place exclusively by video recordings (of the musicians) and by audio cassette recordings (of the singers).
The Tchaikovsky International Competition will take place in three stages. The value of the first prize has doubled relative to previous competitions, now standing at USD 20,000. There are eighteen prizes equally divided between piano, violin, and cello musicians, and eight for vocalists (four prizes for male singers, four for female). 55 Russian and foreign musicians will sit on the jury.
The competition's authority and the number of prospective participants has grown with each year. In 1998, there were 524 applicants from 50 countries, whereas this year 627 applied from 54 countries, although only 272 musicians passed through the selection process. Taking part in the competition are 65 pianists from 24 countries, 52 violinists from 19 countries, 63 cellists from 22 countries, and 92 vocalists from 14 countries.