The real Moscow Philharmonic

The Moscow Philharmonic Hoax

Classical music fans living in Hong Kong were thrilled when the world-renowned Moscow Philharmonic arrived in the city to play a series of concerts from the 7th to the 13th of August, 2000. 10,000 fans, each paying $30 for a seat, turned out to see the orchestra perform. The event was organized with the aid of the Hong Kong government.

Audience members reportedly enjoyed the concerts, and the performances received favorable reviews in the press. One paper raved about the "exciting accelerandos and heart-stopping rubatos."

There was just one problem. Whatever group it was that performed, it was not the Moscow Philharmonic.

When the members of the real Moscow Philharmonic learned of the concerts in Hong Kong, they insisted that something was amiss. Both Yelena Tikhomirova, the Russian agent for the Moscow Philharmonic, and Dmitri Yablonsky, the principal guest conductor of the orchestra, pointed out that the real Moscow Philharmonic was halfway around the world on those dates, on a tour of France, Spain, and Portugal.

Apparently a group of impostors had posed as the Moscow Philharmonic, and their deception was so convincing that no one in the audience in Hong Kong ever knew the difference. The rogue players were probably musicians from lesser-known Russian orchestras performing without the knowledge or permission of the real group.

The embarrassed Hong Kong Government angrily wrote to the agents who had organized the concert. They received a reply which was unreadable to them because it was written in Russian, and they were waiting for a reply in English.

Meanwhile, some concert-goers had begun to request refunds, even though they had apparently been satisfied with the quality of the music at the time of the performance. The Hong Kong Government had not yet decided whether to grant any refunds.