Breaking: Verbier Festival responds to violinist's hostile statement

Breaking: Verbier Festival responds to violinist's hostile statement


norman lebrecht

July 19, 2011

Martin Engstroem, director of the Verbier Festival, has sent me the following response to Gidon Kremer’s provocative letter, saying that he had withdrawn not because he was ill but because of excessive hype. Engstroem replies:

«I treasure Gidon Kremer both as an artist and as a human being. The Verbier Festival regrets his cancellation very much, but of course respects the reasons he has given for it. We will try to explain these reasons to our audience.»

«Ich schätze Gidon Kremer sehr, nicht nur als Künstler, sondern auch als Mensch. Das Verbier Festival bedauert ausserordentlich, dass er nicht am diesjährigen Festival auftreten wird, respektiert aber selbstverständlich seine Gründe für diese Entscheidung. Wir werden versuchen, dem Publikum diese Gründe zu vermitteln.»

This is not over yet, however. Kremer’s letter has drawn widespread sympathy from fellow-artists. Further ripples can be expected.


  • Frank says:

    I do not understand. Verbier is a festival that, far more than most others, involve the musicians in the creative process and encourages them to take on new challenges. It’s a long way from Salzburg, Bayreuth and Aix-en-Provence where star-power is the key to selling the overpriced seats.

  • Kapell says:

    Sounds like a hissy-fit to me. The programming and performances to date (thru July 20 ) contradict Kremer.

  • MIke says:

    @ Frank – That’s a bit harsh on Aix-en-Provence! They constantly present new works and have developed their young artist academy for over 13 years now. The casting is not ‘star’ orientated, and whilst many great artists appear every year, the festival appears to search for and promote emerging talent as much as possible. The cheapest seat for La Traviata at this years festival in Aix is €30 (not including the young person tickets for €15) the cheapest ticket for Tosca at Verbier is 60 CF which is about €50!