February 3, 2023

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Rotterdam, Munich and Milan demand conductor Gergiev to distance himself from the war in Ukraine

Rotterdam, Munich and Milan demand conductor Gergiev to distance himself from the war in Ukraine

Valery GergieviDPA image

Valery Gergiev is one of the most famous and busiest conductors in the world. From 1995 to 2008 he led the Rotterdam Orchestra as president. Today he is the honorary conductor and artistic director of the Gergiev Festival, which has been held since 1995.

Rotterdam’s decision came after it became known that Gergiev was not welcome as a guest conductor at Carnegie Hall in New York this weekend. Munich also gave a chance: if the Russian did not distance himself from the war in Ukraine by Monday at the latest, he would lose his job as principal conductor of the Munich Orchestra. Similar demands came from the Italian opera house La Scala and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.


In recent years, Gergiev has constantly declared his loyalty to Russian President Putin. In 2016, for example, he gave a concert among the Roman ruins of Palmyra in Syria, the country that Putin bombed. “I can’t judge their relationship,” says George Weigel, director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic. We are not expected to get rid of all those years of technical cooperation in one fell swoop. On the other hand, we are aware that Gergiev simply cannot continue.

Weigel would first like to talk to Gergiev himself. We consciously leave the door open to see: does the conversation solve something, or does it intensify? We understand that his situation is complex, and it remains to be seen how much room to maneuver he has. Concerts with Gergiev are scheduled to be held in Rotterdam in May.

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