Cultural Institutions Continue to Cut Ties with Valery Gergiev
In light of his connection to President Putin and silence on the attacks on Ukraine, Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, 68, is facing yet more decisions by cultural institutions to remove his concert appearances and high-profile titles.
According to BBC News, Gergiev has faced pressure to speak out against the Russian invasion. He still remains silent on the matter. The Munich Philharmonic recently fired him as their chief conductor due to his failure to speak against the invasion, issued by Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter.
Gergiev and Putin's relationship has been quite public throughout the years. For example, in 2013, Gergiev received the Hero Of Labor of the Russian Federation Prize from Putin, who revived the Stalin-era prize in gratitude for Gergiev’s support in his election campaign video. Following this, during Metropolitan Opera’s 2013-14 season opener concert, Gergiev was received with protests against his appearance.
Similar to Munich Philharmonic’s position on Gergiev, the Netherlands Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (RPhO) has also suspended all collaborations with him.
“Yesterday evening [March 1] we were able to contact Mr. Gergiev,” RPhO began on their website. “However, at the end of this conversation, insurmountable differences remained. [RPhO] and the [RPhO] Festivals, therefore, consider they have no choice but to terminate their relationship with the conductor.
“Concerts with Mr. Gergiev will be canceled…The Gergiev Festival will also be disbanded,” they continued. “Although, from an artistic perspective, bringing an end to this relationship has been a painful decision, neither organization can see any other way forward. We are currently looking into alternatives for programs already scheduled.”
This decision ended the long-time relationship between the RPhO and Gergiev, who began working with them in 1988 and was their principal conductor between 1995 and 2008. His continued involvement included the annual Gergiev Festival.
Further, Germany's Festspielhaus Baden-Baden has canceled Gergiev’s engagements after receiving no response from him concerning the invasion. “We condemn the cruel attack on Ukraine in violation of international law on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin,” said its artistic director Benedikt Stampa in a statement. “Our deepest sympathy goes to the Ukrainian people.
“In view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is currently inconceivable for us to work together at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden with some artists who are particularly closely associated with the regime of Vladimir Putin,” Stampa continued. “At the same time, it is important to differentiate and not to place anyone under general suspicion.”
Moreover, Gergiev no longer holds the position of Honorary Consul of Luxembourg to St. Petersburg – a role he received in 2009. Jean Asselborn, former Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg who was present at Gergiev’s official appointment, told parliament the news during a debate about the Russian invasion.
Record labels such as BIS Records have likewise severed ties with Gergiev. “Like so many others, BIS Records have had immediate and horrible reasons to re-evaluate the relationship we have with Maestro Valery Gergiev,” stated BIS’s CEO and founder, Robert von Bahr on Facebook.
“Therefore, in this extreme case, BIS have decided, for the very first time in its soon 50 years of existence, to deviate from our total non-deletion policy and will, as of this moment, stop selling any item, where Maestro Gergiev participates, until such time, when the situation may be positively re-evaluated,” von Bahr added. “I furthermore would appeal to and challenge my label colleagues [all] over the world to do the same.”
Despite such cancellations of Gergiev’s involvements, he will still conduct Italy’s annual Ravello Festival this summer. “The Ravello foundation, all its collaborators and artists are very saddened by the fratricidal war in the heart of Europe,” Ravello’s president Dino Falconio told Il Mattino.
“Art and music are fields which, by their nature, speak a language that has no national distinctions but is universal,” Falconio added. “In particular, music does not need translation to be understood and is a heritage of all on earth.”