The Tchaikovsky Competition has suspended a member of staff after the programme mix-up which left competitor bewildered

Pianist Tianxu An, a competitor in the final round of the Tchaikovsky Competition, was thrown off his game by a mix-up which saw the orchestra start the wrong piece.

He had requested Tchaikovsky Concerto no.1 followed by Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini, but the conductor and orchestra had them the other way round. The situation was made worse, as can be seen in the video, by the fact that the piano entry for the Rachmaninoff is almost immediate, giving the pianist almost no time to react.

An was subsequently offered the opportunity to repeat his performance but has chosen not to. The full video can be seen on the website.

The competition has released a statement blaming the ‘gross error’ on an employee of the orchestra.

According to the statement, ‘By a unanimous decision of the Jury, Denis Matsuev, the Jury Chair in the Piano category, officially invited An Tianxu to re-play his program. The participant officially refused.’

The statement also noted that ‘the Administration of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra “Evgeny Svetlanov” decided to suspend the employee from work’.

The competition diary for the day, written by Julia Nazarova, captures the confusion of the moment and its impact on the pianist.

‘The Chinese pianist Tianxu An, who seemed imperturbable in the first rounds, had an unsuccessful third round.

‘An unlucky beginning threw the pianist off balance. He was so unsettled that he bungled the beginning and could not calm down until the end of his performance and focus on what he was playing here and now. The result was a sluggish, wandering pace, loss of rhythm and sloppy articulation.’

Tianxu An studied with Hua Chang at the middle school of Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and currently studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Meng-chieh Liu. In 2010 he won the Grand Prix at the Helen Cup Shanghai International Piano Competition and was a a second prize winner at the VII Beijing International Piano Festival.