“Russia is an exciting country,” said the famous Russian conductor Valery Gergiev in 2003. de Volkskrant† If you live in the Netherlands, you have no idea what instability means. From the late 80s to the 90s, Russia did not have a day of rest. Not today† Then you say thank you to the man who provided stability.
This man was called Vladimir Putin and is still the President of the Russian Federation. With the brutal invasion of Ukraine, he suddenly managed to stifle the glamorous career of Valery Gergiev (68). Because for a few days now it’s been raining cancellations and ultimatums for the Russian who is one of the world’s busiest and most famous band leaders.
Unwelcome in New York this weekend for three performances at the legendary Carnegie Hall Concert Hall. He also received a bullet from Munich. If Gergiev does not distance himself from the war in Ukraine by Monday at the latest, he will lose his well-paid job as principal conductor of the Munich Orchestra. Similar demands are heard from the Italian opera house La Scala, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, and the Lucerne and Baden-Baden festivals.
The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra also issued a press release on Friday. Geergiev worked there as a chef between 1995 and 2008. Today he is the honorary band leader in Rotterdam and artistic director of the annual Gergiev Festival. The message here, too, is: Get yourself out of Putin’s war, or say goodbye to us. “We would first like to speak to Gergiff himself,” says George Weigel, director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic. “We deliberately leave the door open to see: does the conversation resolve something or does it intensify?”
Because yes, in recent years, Gergiev has constantly expressed his loyalty to President Putin. In 2008, after Russian grumbling in Georgia and Abkhazia, he held a memorial party for the dead – on the Russian side. In 2013, he caused a stir around the world by de Volkskrantwho asked him about his controversial stance on introducing anti-gay laws in his country. In Russia, we do everything we can to protect children from pedophiles. This law is not about homosexuality, but is directed against the sexual abuse of children.
Then 2014: Gergiev’s name appeared in an open letter in support of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. He later said the conductor did not sign himself, and was only contacted by phone. To many, Gergiev has certainly been considered ‘Putin’s friend’ since he emerged as a leader in 2016 among the Roman ruins of Palmyra in Syria, the country where Russia ruthlessly dropped its bombs.
The president and conductor met in Saint Petersburg, the city where Putin began his political career in 1991. Gergiev’s career actually gained momentum after in 1988 he took over as artistic director of the Kirov Opera, today’s Mariinsky Theatre. He expanded the opera and ballet troupe on a large scale with state support. In 2007, Gergiev opened a new concert hall and “Mariinski 2” followed in 2013, an additional theater hall built for a filthy 500 million euros. Whoever indicated that it was a handshake with Putin received a civilized response. “Simplify,” Gergiev said. Mariinski offers fairly high quality. That’s why Putin pays attention to us.
Besides Putin, Holland has also played an important role in Gergiev’s career. In 1987 – Russia was still called the Soviet Union – the concert series Matinee on the Free Saturday (current NTR Saturday Matinee) brought a promising young Russian to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Gergiev performed one of his first performances outside the Eastern Bloc.
A year later, he made his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1995 he was awarded the Wolfert van Borselenpenning Medal, awarded to people who play a prominent role in the city. In 2005 Gergiev was made a Knight of the Dutch Order of the Lion. In 2008 he was succeeded by Canadian Yannick Nesette Seguin as chef, the conductor who took the lead last weekend’s Jergiff wand to concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in New York.
To save his career in the West, Gergiev will have to do the almost impossible: craft a statement that satisfies Western claimants and does not offend the great Putin. No sign of him has been heard since the invasion of Ukraine. They are also in Rotterdam still waiting for a phone call from their honorary leader. “I expect he won’t react,” says Weigel, the orchestra’s director. “Gergiev is caught between different interests. He can never give up on the Mariinsky Theatre, so many people work there and they all depend on him.
If Gergiev became an outcast from the international podiums, then Vladimir Putin would not see it very well in St. Petersburg at that time. “I serve my state and disappear,” said the politician, “but Valery Gergiev will remain forever.”
Three times Valery Gergiev
Absolutely no efficiency
In his hometown of Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, Valery Gergiev was denied entry to a music school. His mother was told: “Your son is a nice boy, but he has no talent at all.” He crossed over and ended up at the Leningrad Conservatory.
There is no busier leader than Valery Gergiev. He was able to rehearse in Rotterdam in the morning, step on the box in the afternoon in Cologne and travel to Vienna for an evening concert. The downside: He sleeps during boring interviews.
Proud of Mariinsky
‘Imagine:’ Nutcracker, the most popular ballet of all time, was born on our stage. Mussorgsky Boris Godunov Born on our stage. opera like Khuvanshina† Prince Igor† long pique – Cherish the incredible tradition.
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