Debate concerning competition rules and the etiquette expected of competitors has erupted in the wake of reports emerging from this year’s Lang Lang Shenzhen Futian International Piano Competition. Recognising the talent of young pianists, heated discussion was sparked by an account written by one of the jurors and published on Slipped Discabout the disqualification of 16-year-old Australian finalist Shuan Hern Lee.

Shuan Hern Lee. Photograph supplied

In his account, Antonio Pompa-Baldi, professor of piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music, describes how Lee was disqualified after breaching competition rules by playing more than the required amount of repertoire. The rules, which were newly implemented after the first round, came as a result of the competition deciding to accept 10, rather than the originally stated six finalists.

In order to adhere to the competition schedule, Pompa-Baldi says that the finalists were asked to play two pieces instead of the originally requested three. He writes that “everybody accepted without problems”, except Lee, who “immediately wrote back in belligerent tones that he did not want to do that.”

“He had prepared three pieces, and he wanted to play all three. While that may be a legitimate...