Alessio Cioni, one of the finalists at the Rachmaninoff International Competition and Festival, not only did not win, he was actually disqualified for playing too poorly.
The judges stated that the “lack of preparation in his performances in the final round was such that is it not warranted that he be considered a laureate finalist of this competition. He will remain, however, designated a formal semifinalist.”
One of the jurors, Earl Wild, subsequently said the following:
In the first round, he played the Chopin Etude in A minor. It was stunning. It was so good, in my life I hadn’t heard it played so well. But playing concertos is another matter.
He’s a very talented boy. This should be a wonderful lesson for him. If you’re in music, you have to become used to being criticized. He was up against people who knew the music perfectly. He didn’t. It’s unfortunate. All of us in the world have been criticized, sometimes very unfairly. If you have anything inside you that’s real, it should not even bother you.