Daneshpour in Tchaikovsky Competition

Sara Daneshpour performs Prokofiev—Piano Sonata No. 7

Moscow, June 2011.


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by yolanda on

Curtis Institute of Music is super competitive and hard to get in.......but it is tuition-free conservatory......every student is awarded full scholarship!


my cousin studied there...


I get surprised by yet another talented Iranian almost on a

by didani on

daily basis now! Sara's style is impeccable. I know how tough it is to get into Curtis Conservatory, THE MOST COMPETETIVE SCHOOL in US with the lowest acceptance rate even lower than Harvard:


Thanks Monda jan for the post and best wishes for Sara.


my Pleasure, Anahid

by Monda on


Anahid Hojjati

Thanks Monda for posting this video.

by Anahid Hojjati on

It is always great to be able to watch work of talented Iranians.


Thank you Ari and friends!

by Monda on

I am equally impressed with Ari's energy and foucs and knowledge, as Bavafa and his cousin Faramarz are. Maybe a tad more.

Dear Maghshoosh, sorry about my "bizarre" tone. i have grown rather allergic to the concept of prize/title at the expense of not focusing enough on the individual artist's passion and determination in not only choosing such a difficult piece (at age 24) but expressing the angst of the composer so well (at 24?!).

I am glad you and everyone else enjoyed this Talented pianist's work. Btw, I first came across Sara Daneshpour  back in 2003, when JJ had nominated her as Iranian of the Day, per Darius Kadivar's link. Yolanda and Vildemose may have already read this: //iranian.com/PhotoDay/2003/July/sara.html



what I like to know...

by Bavafa on

when does Ari have so much time to learn all this stuff and he explains them so well

 Thanks indeed and a great performance too.




by yolanda on

Prokofiev—Piano Sonata No. 7 received a Stalin Prize (Second Class) according to Wikipedia...

I found a video of the same sonata played by another maestro pianist. It was absolutely and shockingly beautiful; the pianist was like a stuntman! Wow!


Sara is great, but definitely there is room for improvement!

This sonata is a super difficult piece to play!


The Korean girl did a great job.......she looked like she was in a zone!

In the 3rd round of competition, 4 Koreans, 4 Russians, and 2 Ukranians left!

Ari Siletz


by Ari Siletz on

The expertise of the musician and the composer in conveying the feeling certainly evokes praise, and in this sense the music can be considered "enjoyable." However the words "deeply felt," or "impactful" come to mind with less doubt. Similarly with some of, say, Sadegh Hedayat's works--horrible, yet brilliant. I am sure many during the Stalin era felt like scared and helpless mice running for cover. Bahram's reaction may appear untutored in terms of modern classical music training (oxymoron, I know) , but psychologically he could be resonating well with the composer. Maybe he's just not used to the musical equivalent of cuss words in high literature (dissonance, broken rhythms, jerky dynamics of volume...), but he hears them loud and clear.


Thank You Ari!

by Faramarz on

Thanks Ari for explaining the background.

I watched this clip and did my best to understand it or like it, but it was like someone was forced to perform something that she didn't like! And Monda please forgive me. She is a talented musician and doing a great job, but the music is like it is forced on her.

Iranian.com rocks!


Tough competition

by maghshoosh on

Soosan Khanoom,

You're welcome.  As a non-expert, I wouldn't know how to rank ones like Sara & Yeol-Eum, since they look equally masterful (and dramatic) to me.  I suspect the judging is to a large extent subjective; a different but equally-qualified set of judges might pick different winners.

This competition seems to be pretty selective.  Check out the list of past winners at


and notice that in certain years no "first prize" was awarded, only "2nd prizes."  This is confusing since at


it claims that a 1st prize is "always to be awarded"!!  Could this have been the judges way of saying, "none of you were up to our standards, but since we have to give out a prize here's a 2nd prize for one of you unworthys"?  Imagine the embarrassment of being such a "winner."

Anahid Hojjati

Ari, so the key is that we are not supposed to enjoy

by Anahid Hojjati on

it as much as we do the one from south korean? Any way, I am not trained in music but I liked the south Korean one better but based on your explanation, it seems that there is a reason for the play which even to an untrained person like me seems different. So when Mr. Gohari says that it seems that a mouse is going back and forth on keyboard, it is played like this to represent the nature of Stalinist persecution policies.

Ari Siletz

Stalinist era music

by Ari Siletz on

After Stalin executed some of Prokofiev's close artist friends, the composer was asked to write a piece in praise of Stalin. He had no choice but to obey (here's the "beautiful" piece, which is unofficially called "Hail to Stalin"). But soon after, Prokofiev composed several sonatas, including the one above to express his true feelings about the dictator, it has been said. The dissonant anger in Prokofiev's Piano Sonata #7 likely resonates with many Iranian artists today. For example how do Iranian filmmakers, still free to work, feel about the treatment of Jafar panahi by the IRI?  Listening to the piece with this in mind we can see why and how modern composers such as Prokofiev had to push music beyond "melody" in order to find expression for the state of affairs. If you're not having fun listening, you're catching on! Interesting choice.

Soosan Khanoom


by Soosan Khanoom on

Thanks for letting us know more about the competition ... I enjoyed  Son Yeol-Eum as well  ... thanks for posting



by farshadjon on

Very nice, Monda khanum.

Really enjoyed it!



Where's the pettiness?

by maghshoosh on

Dear Monda,

I find your assessment of my comments bizarre.  The title of the blog refers to the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.  Naturally, I got curious and checked on the status of the competition, and pointed to it in case anyone else had the same curiousity.  I made no judgement as to her talents.  As a layman, I find all these performances wonderful and would listen to them more than once.  (I posted another contestant's performance not for comparison w/ Sara, but for those who'd enjoy viewing more such performances.)

To make your comment doubly bizarre, you don't seem to have objected to commentators below me who referred to Sara's piano playing as "a mouse running on the keyboard," which wouldn't be my view at all.


so Maghshoosh?

by Monda on

If there is a clip of you or anyone else who can play that labor-intensive sonata as well as Sara did - please send the clip to JJ.

The title of this post did not imply her winning. And in my mind, you bringing up that point was petty. 


Daneshpour & the Tchaikovsky piano competition

by maghshoosh on

According to the competition's site @


Sara made it all the way to the penultimate round, but not the final one, which will end in a couple of days.  The initial pool for the piano competition had about 30 contestants.  Here's a performance by the S. Korean Son Yeol-Eum, who made it to the final round:


Bahram Gohari

Soosan Khanoom, I knew it, I

by Bahram Gohari on

Soosan Khanoom, I knew it, I should have kept my mouth shut, my apology to you sarkar khanom and to all.

Soosan Khanoom


by Soosan Khanoom on

run for your life " the mouse " is going to attack you .... LOL


She is a talented pianists .... it is hard to play like that ...

Great Job Sara  

Bahram Gohari

To me it sounds like a mouse

by Bahram Gohari on

To me it sounds like a mouse is running back and forth on the keyboard, maybe because I am not musically talented, I hope nobody attack me for my opinion.



by yolanda on

Another mesmerizing performace by Sara:


She is very anassuming and sweet...only 24 years old:


Azarin Sadegh

I LOVE her intensity!

by Azarin Sadegh on

(Encore, encore...) Brava!



Stellar job. Very

by vildemose on

Stellar job. Very impressive.

Jahanshah Javid

Standing ovation

by Jahanshah Javid on

What an incredible performance!