Tchaikovsky Competition on the road to recovery
The cellist and conductor said he loved the competition, even though it led to his exile from the Soviet Union.
The Tchaikovsky Music Competition at the Moscow Conservatory runs until the end of June. Taking part this year are around 200 pianists, violinists, cellists and singers from 34 countries.
Once recognised as the Olympics of classical music, the competition has lost ground in recent years.
The first Tchaikovsky competition in 1958 made its mark at the height of the Cold War, with U.S musician Van Cliburn impressing Soviet audiences and taking home first prize for piano.
But after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the organising committee fell apart and The Tchaikovsky Competition went into decline.
Nevertheless, organisers hope that increased sponsorship, open voting and more prestigious juries, will bring back some of the glory the competition enjoyed before 1991.
Many involved in the competition still believe it is one of the best in the world.
“This is, as this was, one of the very few major competitions in the world”, says Gary Graffman, 2007 jury member.