RUSS GALA THRILLS N.U. VIOLINIST
BY FRANK STARR, Chief of Moscow Bureau


Vincent P. Skowronski

The TCHAIKOVSKY COMPETITION is a festival of a hundred untold dramas. The experience of VINCENT P. SKOWRONSKI is one of them. SKOWRONSKI, 26, is a violinist from Evanston and teacher at Northwestern University, School of Music. He won the CHICAGOLAND MUSIC FESTIVAL competition.
He also won a personal victory in Moscow although he was eliminated in the first round of the competition. Skowronski had to take a chance -- a big one -- for the rare opportunity to play before the elite panel of 20 judges including President David Oistrakh, Leonid Kogan, Arthur Grumiaux, Joseph Szigeti, and Efrem Zimbalist, Sr. He had to break competition rules and play from music.

ALLOWED TO PLAY -- "They [judges] could have disqualified me from the start, but they didn't," he said. "They let me finish. In that respect they were most fair, cordial and understanding. Believe me,... I'm really thrilled and satisfied." Skowronski received a big setback when a doctor told him recently that a cyst under his chin must be removed and that he should not play for at least two months to allow his chin to heal fully. The cyst was removed a month ago.

DECIDED TO COMPETE -- He would have been a few months too old to compete in the next Tchaikovsky in 1974, so Skowronski made his decision. He would not miss this opportunity even if it meant his using the music. He would take the chance. "Instead of worrying about performing well, I worried about performing at all," he said. There was a big unison gasp from the audience when he came out on stage with his music stand. "I stalled and stalled, tuning my fiddle, waiting for somebody to stop me, but nothing happened, " he said. "I plunged into the Bach [Adagio and Fugue from the G Minor Sonata] expecting a gong to sound at any minute or a trap door to open."


PLAYED SECOND NUMBER -- "I finished and the audience applauded. I stalled some more and nothing happened, so I played the first movement of Mozart's Concerto No. 4 in D Major (really not thinking about the music). Then came the voice. Mr. Skowronski, do you know the rules of the contest?" asked an interpreter. There was silence in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory while Skowronski explained. Jury chairman David Oistrakh considered the question. Then he gave the word that Skowronski should continue with two Paganini Caprices and the Tchaikovsky Waltz Scherzo. "I did not come to win but to play," Skowronski said later. "I am grateful for the opportunity."

STANDARDS ARE HIGH -- The standards are high and the competition fierce. The Soviet musicians are the ones to beat. Carefully screened in previous contests for the right to compete in this one, many of them are pupils of members of the jury. Nevertheless, hopes are high and few contestants mention the fact that the juries are weighted roughly one third non-Communist, two thirds who are Communists and one third of them who are Soviets.

"With Americans Vincent P. Skowronski and Glenn Dichterow,
we again hear different interpretations of Bach, beautiful sounds,
good schooling and, quite understandably, different degrees of persuasiveness." ----From the Soviet News Agency, TASS

Published in the Chicago Tribune, Sunday, June 21, 1970. This is a synopsized, true to fact accounting of Mr. Skowronski's participation in the
IV INTERNATIONAL TCHAIKOVSKY COMPETITION, Moscow - 1970.