New video: Gidon Kremer, ‘Music must be more than entertainment’ (Slipped Disc exclusive)

New video: Gidon Kremer, ‘Music must be more than entertainment’ (Slipped Disc exclusive)


norman lebrecht

October 04, 2013

Next Monday in Berlin, the great violinist and a number of friends will play a concert in support of the innocent victims of violence and human rights violations in Russia, in solidarity with all who care for that country’s future.

7 October was the day in 2006, on which the renowned journalist and human rights activist, Anna Politkovskaya, was murdered in Moscow. Thise joining Gidon Kremer include Daniel Barenboim, Martha Argerich, Emmanuel Pahud, Sergei Nakariakov, Katya Buniatishvili, Giya Kancheli and Nicolas Altstaedt.

Here, in an exclusive video for Slipped Disc, Gidon explains his reasons for putting on the concert.

Watch, and learn.

If you prefer, you can watch him in Russian here.

kremer anti-putin



  • I really appreciate seeing a classical musician take a stand for justice. I feel our profession is too often complacent when it comes to social responsibility. The statement shows that Kremer is a wise, intelligent, and gentle man with a great deal of integrity.

    The imprisonment of the members of Pussy Riot shows how backward Russia still is. I hope Kremer’s words will be heard by Putin.

    There is, however, a bit of irony in Kremer’s statement that might be mentioned. There is a country that is by far more responsible than any other for pushing art to entertainment and it ain’t Russia. I hope at some point he will do another protest concert pointed a bit more westward…

  • Neil van der Linden says:

    I very respectable and eloquent stance, from a great master. However one remark: justice is very often in the eye of the beholder. Try reading the name Nigel Kennedy instead of Gidon Kremer (regardless whether Kennedy arguably is less a universal genius than Kremer, but more famed violinists are not just like Kremer.) Also try to replace the name Kremer with Kennedy in the first response here by William Osborne, and try to read back the majority of responses on the Kennedy issue. Most were vilifying, in a very rude way, just as his cause was shared by less here. I fully agree with Kremer’s views and his actions.

  • sdReader says:

    They were too harsh on Pussy Riot, but in the West we forget that music in the Orthodox Church was proscribed for centuries and discouraged or restricted when it wasn’t proscribed (a reason why “classical music” has its roots in Western Europe). To perform music in an Orthodox Church at all is a delicate matter and to do so in protest was considered an outrage. William Osborne really ought to know better than to use the word “backward” in this context.

    • Not to worry. I feel there is much backward in the West and its churches as well, and I appreciate that we have too many one-sided, self-righteous views. But still, doesn’t this harsh Pussy Riot punishment smack a bit of Dostoevsky? And now those Green Peace activists. Putin isn’t giving us much chance to be sympathetic…

  • laquijote says:

    O dear colleagues … in this case, please let us not argue about how many angels might stand on the head of this particular pin. Gidon Kremer is an extraordinary musician, who puts his money –or his instrument– where his mouth is, as the saying goes. Let us simply accept that, with all the heart-warmth with which it’s given, pick up the torch, continue on with our own hearts inspired by his, in all its generosity and eloquence!

  • AP says:

    Music should not, indeed, be as an entertainment.

    • m2n2k says:

      If I understand Gidon Kremer correctly, he is saying here that music should not be LIMITED to entertainment ONLY. Entertaining elements have always been present in all performing arts – actually in all other types of arts too – and he knows it perfectly well.

  • David H. says:

    I sympathize with Kremer’s noble effort. But I’m confused by the motto, “Music should be more than only entertainment.” It sounds this is spoken to a western audience. Degrading music to pure entertainment, musicians to musical high gloss serfs, is certainly not a problem of Russia but a problem of the west, most prominently in the US with it’s shallow entertainment “Zeitgeist”.

    I also have a problem with seeing the cases of Politkovskaya and Pussy Riot named in the same context. One was a respected investigative journalist who was murdered under still mysterious circumstances. The other are a group of punks who wanted nothing but provoke authorities with cheap and crude means. Their sentence is totally overblown, agreed. But I find it hard to sympathize with them, despite their cute girlish looks…

    • Gonout Backson says:

      Politkovskaya and Pussy Riot are two completely different cases, but the “context” is the same, the context being Putin’s Russia. This is the regime:

      which condemned the punks.

      • David H. says:

        As you can clearly see from that list, murders of journalists have been occurring as frequently under Jelzin’s rule in post-Soviet Russia. Also it is not realistic, to blame Putin (or Jelzin) alone for a number of murders, that originate in Russia’s deeply corrupt oligarchy and fiefdoms. Politkovskaya for instance most likely was murdered by Berezovsky, we don’t know for sure but it’s more likely than Putin being the man behind it.

        I suggest to us all (and I humbly suggest the same to Gidon Kremer as well) to distinguish between a troubled Russian civil society as a whole, and one of of it’s major – but not sole – representatives, Putin. Power in Russia very much works under the political radar within the oligarchy. Putin is just a political figure without economical power but with military might.

        The attempts by certain Western interest groups, to politically damage and defeat Putin, mostly for his protecting the looting of Russian resources by foreign investors, are too obvious and I hope no musician with a reputation will damage it in the process of siding with one of the two evils that are fighting.

        • David H. says:

          “preventing the looting”, not “protecting”.

          • Gonout Backson says:

            “Politkovskaya for instance most likely was murdered by Berezovsky, we don’t know for sure but it’s more likely than Putin being the man behind it.”

            Yeah. And the officer’s widow flogged herself.

          • David H. says:

            Seriously, you know nothing about this? Then there are also the Chechnian warlords… Sorry, but please educate yourself first, then talk.