Following a vote, the World Federation of International Music Competitions has excluded the International Tchaikovsky Competition from its membership with immediate effect.


The competition, which is held every four years in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, for young pianists, violinists, and cellists, is one of the most famous in the world. Past winners include pianists Vladimir Ashkenazy and Daniil Trifonov, violinists Gidon Kremer and Viktoria Mullova.

But, in response to what they refer to as 'Russia´s brutal war and humanitarian atrocities in Ukraine', the WFIMC has said that, as an apolitical organization, 'it cannot support or have as a member, a competition financed and used as a promotional tool by the Russian regime.'

A statement from Russian president Vladimir Putin, as well as a comment from his supporter Valery Gergiev, can be found on the competition’s homepage.

The WFIMC announcement comes after a number of Russian artists have been declared persona non grata by Western companies. Earlier this month, the Sibelius Violin Competition banned Russian competitors. Anna Netrebko and Valery Gergiev have been forced to step away from the concert hall after refusing to condemn the Russian regime, and pianist Boris Berezovsky has been dropped by his agent. At the same time, major record labels including Universal Music have announced the closure of their Russian offices and shutdown of operations in the country.

Some weeks ago, two major piano competitions - the Honens and the Dublin International Piano Competition - announced that they would not be open to Russian pianists this year. However, following protests from the global music community, including a petition against the 'blanket boycott' of Russian musicians, the Honens International Piano Competition reinstated its Russian competitors.

WFIMC president Peter Paul Kainrath and secretary general Florian Riem, said 'THE WFIMC affirms its previous statement against blanket sanctions on all Russians and against the discrimination and exclusion of individual artists, based on their nationality.'

'In times of war especially,' it concludes, 'we believe it to be essential to maintain a dialogue with those who trust us and who share our values, the same way as we trust them.'

Founded in 1957, the World Federation of International Music Competitions provides guidelines, aiming for artistic excellence, integrity and fairness, setting a globally recognised standard.

The federation currently comprises over 110 international music competitions and other institutions that serve young musicians building international careers.


Photo: Getty


Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.