Young Russian pianist Elisey Mysin has been awarded first prize in his age category at the international Robert Schumann Competition held in Dusseldorf, Germany. The event was organized in late February.
The 12-year-old Russian musician impressed the jury by first playing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s concerto for piano and orchestra No.12, before interpreting Schumann’s ‘Colorful Leaves’ pieces. Mysin has been playing piano since the age of three, and gained prominence in Russia after taking part in the popular children’s TV competition ‘Blue Bird’.
The International Robert Schumann Competition for young pianists has been held by the Society of Friends and Sponsors of the Robert Schumann High School in Dusseldorf since 2017.
Mysin’s victory comes at a time when many Western music competitions have outright excluded Russian participants on the basis of their nationality amid the conflict in Ukraine.
In April 2022, the Jean Sibelius Violin Competition held in Finland banned Russian participants despite previously selecting them on the basis of merit. The competition committee accused Russians of “atrocities” during Moscow’s military campaign.
In May 2022, a similar decision was taken by the acclaimed Rodolfo Lipizer International Violin Competition held in Italy. The move even prompted the Italian FVG Orchestra, which traditionally accompanied the competition finalists, to pull out of the event altogether. Its president, Paolo Petiziol, then condemned the organizers’ decision to ban Russians as “inexplicable” and “completely unfair.”
Kiev has repeatedly called on various Western platforms to ban Russian music and performers. In February, it urged the Swedish streaming service Spotify to remove songs by Russian artists who “support the war.” Some Western nations have also demanded a blanket ban on Russian culture.
In January, Lithuanian Culture Minister Simonas Kairys said his country’s citizens should not enjoy Russian culture as long as the conflict in Ukraine continues. While stopping short of supporting what he called an “authoritarian” administrative ban on Russian culture, the minister said he favored a “mental quarantine” on it.