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Controversies

1966 Jury Chairman William Glock declared that the award of first prize in that year's competition by a majority vote to Spanish pianist Rafael Orozco showed poor artistic judgement. Many experts felt that second-placed Russian Victoria Postinikova, the clear favourite, should have won.

Three years later, Fanny Waterman personally intervened to ensure that Rumanian pianist Radu Lupu, reached the finals when the Jury, again under Glock's chairmanship, had seemed likely to omit him. Lupu won the competition and is now one of the world's most revered pianists.

Leeds Town Hall, the venue for the finals of every competition bar one, has always attracted its share of controversy largely on account of the Hall's acoustics.

The 1975 competition remains unique because the semi-finals and finals took place in the 1550-seat Grand Theatre. Explaining the switch, Waterman said: 'The Town Hall's acoustics have frequently been criticised by the Jury, competitors and audience. It is hoped that the facilities of the Grand Theatre will represent an improvement from all points of view and will enable a somewhat larger audience to hear the performances in greater comfort.' In the event, this proved hardly less controversial. 1969 competition winner Radu Lupu commented: 'The Grand is acoustically terrible'. George Corson and J. R. Watson's incomparable Italianate auditorium was of course designed for opera and drama, not solo piano.

The experiment was never repeated and the Town Hall has staged every subsequent competition finals. The Millennium finals in September 2000 took place with the paint barely dry following a handsome refurbishment, which included upgraded seating for an audience of 1563, an enlarged stage and acoustic improvements.
Click images to enlarge
William Glock, Chairman, 1966 and 1969
William Glock, Chairman, 1966 and 1969
Radu Lupu, winner, 1969
Radu Lupu, winner, 1969
Leeds Town Hall, interior, 2000
Leeds Town Hall, interior, 2000




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© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003