Gergiev’s Holland Festival faces chop for anti-gay stance

Gergiev’s Holland Festival faces chop for anti-gay stance


norman lebrecht

December 15, 2013

Valery Gergiev’s defence of Vladimir Putin and his anti-gay laws may cost the Russian conductor his long-standing festival in Rotterdam.

The city council has called a meeting this week to examine his statements on gay issues. If they are found to be offensive, the festival could lose its subsidy and be forced to close. Report here (in Dutch).

Russian President Putin presents a Hero of Labour award to Mariinsky theatre director Gergiev during an awards ceremony in St. Petersburg


  • robcat2075 says:

    Perhaps they could find a different conductor for the festival rather than punish the Dutch musicians who play in it?

    Or is it a case that other major funding is there only because of his participation?

  • ed says:

    Guilt by association, eh? So much for ‘human rights’ in the EU. And what about all of those genocidal and life threatening policies that SHOULD be sanctioned. Not exactly a stellar performance by the Dutch.

    • sdReader says:

      You miss the point. Gergiev has helped Putin campaign for re-election.

      • ed says:

        I have no illusions about power politics, nor any love for the geopolitical players, and, yes, Putin has played hardball and ruled with an iron hand. For those of us who live in a less dangerous and more indulgent part of the world, it ain’t exactly one’s favorite cup of tea, but, he did bring Russia back from the brink of economic disaster after it was looted by gangsters and oligarchs with close ties to the Western banks, and, when the supposed deal with Reagan not to expand NATO to Russia’s doorstep or create a new cold war was trashed by GHW Bush, Clinton, Dubya, and then Obama, he was able to reenergize the military capabilities of his country, and put it on a long term program of rehabilitation, and along the way develop sensible economic alliances that were not grounded on the principle of “full spectrum dominance”. And, sorry to say, but he’s done a better job of preserving the rule of international law as set forth in the UN Charter than the apparatchiks in the US or the rest of NATO. And, by using good strategic thinking- he plays chess, we play checkers- he maybe saved the world from one or two more disastrous wars. I suggest you read his most recent State of the Union address at: It sets forth a long term plan for his country that we could learn a thing or two from for our own.

        So, who cares if Gergiev campaigned for Putin.

  • PK Miller says:

    It’s about time. Gergiev needs to be held accountable for at least tacitly promoting an anti-Gay policy. I don’t know why it couldn’t be done in the US and elsewhere, too. Bigotry has consequences. Gergiev has played it too cool. I do agree with robocat above–unless the funding for the festival or its very existence is because of Gergiev, they ought to find a different director.

  • Jim Buckley says:

    nobody is indispensible,if he doesn’t renounce his position,tell him in no uncertain terms to take a walk.

  • Janey says:

    Has he made any statements on gay issues? I never got the impression he is being accused of being anti-gay.

  • David H. says:

    When I eat rumpsteak, does that mean I’m in “defence” of slaughterhouses?

    • Musiker says:

      Err. Yes.

      Or do you think you could eat steak without there being any slaughterhouses?

      • David H. says:

        I could knowingly ignore the slaughterhouses, I could suppress thinking about slaughterhouses, I don’t necessarily DEFEND slaughterhouses by eating steak. Maybe I just eat steak, to be polite to my hosts…

        • Musiker says:

          What a ridiculous train of “thought” (if such drivel can fairly be described as such). But then again, I’ve read your other comments, like the one below. So I don’t think I should really be surprised.

  • David H. says:

    The Anti-Putin propaganda will not rest, until Russia’s resources are back in the hands of the international financial and corporate elite. And the usual useful idiots are playing along.

  • David H. says:

    anyway, the way public spending for culture is handled in Holland recently, having raised a generation of cultural incompetence that is now increasingly holding political power, the suggested cuts might be wanted anyway, and Gergiev’s loyalty to Putin might just be a convenient excuse for the cuts.

  • I am wondering if the Rotterdam city council will be consistent and scrutinize all artists who are practicing christians/muslims/Jews for their stance on gays.

  • blondbearnl says: The Gergiev Festival, The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Concert Hall De Doelen and the Alderman of Arts of Rotterdam have just made a statement that it completely follows and believes Valery Gergiev. Probably these Rotterdam institutions need Gergiev to justify their own existence. If it would have been blacks, jews or muslims its stance would have been different.

    • The statement I received from the Rotterdam Phil was marked ‘not for publication’.Some anxiety there.

      • blondbearnl says:

        The statement was given to the press and the public (the audience in general) this afternoon as there is criticism in the Netherlands about funding this Gergiev festival with a quarter of million euros every year with the name giver and name holder Valery Gergiev not saying he objects to putin anti gay laws. The statement was also sent to everyone who is on the mailing list of the Doelen and Rotterdam Philharmonic. Unfortunately they gave in. The Netherlands has encountered many attacks, a few even literal, in the 2013 Russia – the Netherlands friendship year. I think De Doelen and The Rotterdam Philharmonic are just too afraid. Alas.

    • sdReader says:

      The Rotterdam Phil and De Doelen hall certainly do not need any one conductor to justify their existence.

      And can we leave other minorities out of this?

      This story is not emerging clearly. Few Slipped Disc readers can read Dutch. Who is saying what, exactly?

      If it is just the end of a spurious annual festival in honor of one former Rotterdam Phil music director (who supports a dictator in Russia), then the move seems like a reasonable pruning to me.