And the winner of the 2014 Stalin Prize is…

And the winner of the 2014 Stalin Prize is…


norman lebrecht

October 01, 2014

Take a look at this conductor’s schedule for the coming month.

He is scheduled to conduct almost every single night in October, in six different countries.

October 1 – Russia, St. Petersburg 

October 2 – Russia, St. Petersburg 
October 3 – Kazakhstan, Astana, 
October 4 – Kazakhstan, Astana 
5 October – Russia, Tomsk, 
October 6 and 7 – Russia, Vladivostok 
October 9 – Japan, Kumamoto 
October 10 – Japan, Fukuoka 
October 11 – Osaka, Japan 
October 12 – Japan, Ishikawa 
October 13 – Shanghai, China 
October 14 – Tokyo, Japan 
15 October – Tokyo, Japan 
October 16 – Japan, Nagoya, 
October 17 – Tokyo, Japan 
October 18 – Japan, Saitama 
October 19 – Russia, Khabarovsk 
October 20 – Russia, Kemerovo 
October 21 – Russia, St. Petersburg 
October 23 – Russia, St. Petersburg 
October 24 – Russia, St. Petersburg 
October 25 – Russia, Saint-Petersburg 
on October 26 – Germany, Frankfurt 
on October 27 – Austria, Vienna 
, October 28 – Austria, Vienna 
October 30 – Germany, Dortmund 
October 31 – Germany, Dortmund

The only nights he is not working are 8, 22 and 29, presumably because flight schedules did not permit. 

How much energy, originality and fluidity a musician can invest each and every performance when he does not have a single night’s rest in a month is a matter for musicians and audiences to judge.

But one thing is certain: Valery Gergiev is the last of the living Stakhanovites, a breed of men who sacrificed all to meet the Kremlin’s quota.

Step forward, Valery, and receive your Stalin Prize.

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

Oh, happy days….

mravinsky mural





  • Reinhold Martin says:

    This reads really good: Perhaps he will have no spare time to take over the Munich Philharmonic in 2015. Would be a big relief for the Philharmonic’s musicians and the concert-goers in the capital of Bavaria.

    • harold braun says:

      Crat talk,Mr.Martin.At least he has much more to offer like some hopelessly overrated german would be Furtwängler conductor repeating the same 15 symphonies in glib polished lifeless readings at nauseam!

  • Neil McGowan says:

    Talent and ability have always – sadly – been a magnet for detractors.

    This baseless and politically-motivated invective is unworthy of you, Mr Lebrecht.

    I have no doubt our friend Milka will be dropping by to add worthless dross to the debate.

    • Will Duffay says:

      Gergiev’s talent and ability have never been in question. It’s his habit of spreading himself too thinly and therefore give under-rehearsed and sub-standard performances which the important point.

      • Neil McGowan says:

        Missing from the information above is that Gergiev is on tour with his own orchestra, and they are largely repeating material from 2-3 programs throughout the tour.

        The accusations of sloppiness are mere poltical opportunism. It costs a great deal of money to tour, feed, accommodate and pay an orchestra, and good capitalist business practice means they cannot afford to be kicking their heels and doing nothing.

        Frankly it’s marvellous that world-class performances are being toured to provincial cities like Tomsk, Kemerevo and Khabarovsk. They are tax-payers too, and they deserve to enjoy a taste of their nation’s cultural heritage. When did the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera last tour to Boulder, Colorado – or to Sun Valley, Idaho?

        As for the photograph of Gergiev with Putin… remind me, please, when Mr Obama, or Mr Cameron, last bothered to take a personal interest in the Arts in their respective countries? Perhaps if they did, the situation of lockouts, bankruptcies and financial torpor amid American orchestras and opera theatres would not be so all-embracing?

        The values supported by leaders permeate throughout their countries. Mr Putin associates with orchestral conductors, and does his bit for preserving wildlife and the environment. Meanwhile, Mr Obama’s much-vaunted pledge to close the Gitmo Gulag remains a risible failure, and his latest policy is to go back to bombing civilians in Iraq. And if that chokes in Mr Reinhold Martin’s throat, it’s entirely his problem. I don’t remember noticing any orchestra close-downs, lock-outs, walk-outs or cut-backs in Russia on Slipped Disc of late? Draw your own conclusions.

        • “… remind me, please, when Mr Obama, or Mr Cameron, last bothered to take a personal interest in the Arts in their respective countries?”

          For Obama, that would be July 28, 2014.

          • Henrik says:

            Handing over medals to artists, chosen by a committee, is now “taking personal interest in the arts”? I never knew…
            Do you have something else?

          • M2N2K says:

            And giving medals chosen by the great leader himself, based mostly on the artist’s loyalty to him and his regime, is to be praised? There were a couple of rather famous dictators in the last century who definitely took “personal interest in the arts”. If Putin is emulating them, he is doing a pretty good job so far.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            So every politician who takes an interest in the arts is automatically a dictator? Interesting point of view. Is every politician with a mustache also automatically a dictator?

          • M2N2K says:

            It may be interesting but it certainly isn’t mine.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            So M2N2K is your actual name? Unusual – but why not? What’s your first name, R2D2?

          • M2N2K says:

            How did you guess??
            Seriously, why this obsession with names? It makes absolutely no difference to me what yours is.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            No “obsession”. I just think it’s nicer if people actually put their name above what they think they have to say. It gives the comments a little more weight and credibility.

            You have to admit though that the “R2D2” thing was pretty funny. If we were on Facebook, I would “like” my own post for that… 🙂

          • M2N2K says:

            In my opinion, comments’ “weight and credibility” depend on whether they make sense and not on how they are signed. When I see a dumb comment that is signed with a prominent name, it does not make it any weightier and/or more credible in my eyes, but it makes me feel embarrassed for the person who signed it and it also may occasionally diminish or lower my opinion of the person. When I see a very smart comment, no matter how it is signed, it usually makes me glad that I don’t have to spend my time writing the same thing. And you would have to admit that your “joke” can be perceived as being funny only because of my silly moniker that I put together in haste and of which I am not proud at all. It is what it is, and for the sake of continuity I am not planning to change it any time soon.

  • Reinhold Martin says:

    Dear Norman: Why do you not lock-out from your blog Putin’s internet snipers, as for instance this unspeakably annoying NEIL MCGOWAN.

  • Hasbeen says:

    I might be wrong but I guess the majority of these dates, if not all, are on tour with the Marinsky Orchestra where the programs would have been prepared in advance. There is nothing extraordinary about orchestras on long international tours.

  • Hasbeen says:

    Mr McGowan’s comments substantive and correct about Gergiev and touring touring. Unfortunately his last 3 sentences trashing Obama are gratuitous, argumentative and do not belong here.

    • Neil McGowan says:

      My closing three sentences serve as a counterweight to the opening article. If Gergiev is to be pilloried by Mr Lebrecht specifically for the deserved recognition he receives from his native country for his work….

      … there is implicit suggestion that things are done better outside allegedly “Stalinist” (ha!) countries. My remarks stand.

  • Neil McGowan says:

    Confused. Has Gergiev received another prize/medal/honour/bauble

    No, he hasn’t. He’s just busy with an extensive tour.

  • M2N2K says:

    If the performances are good, there is no reason to criticize the schedule. If they are bad, then criticize *them* all you want. This schedule is typical for VG. Criticizing him for it is like criticizing him for being him. If he is some kind of superhuman who is able to give great performances every night, then admire him. If his performances are lacking, then it is not the schedule’s fault, but simply his shortcoming as a conductor. Ability to arrange one’s schedule according to one’s possibilities is one of the important skills for every performing musician.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    He must go home some time, his wife is reputedly expecting their fourth child!

  • Gene Gaudette says:

    Given his well-earned reputation for tardiness at rehearsals and curtain time, a more appropriate award would be The Stallin’ Prize.

  • Milka says:

    It seems Mr. McGowan in” adding
    worthless dross” to a debate you are doing quite well on your own.

    I make it a point never to seriously
    entertain travel agent’s musical opinions .

  • hadrianus says:

    As a conductor I would refuse getting any medals from a dictator who brings Russia back to Stalin’s times and kicks off human rights and – last but not least, has no culture at all for classical music.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      More true heroism from anonymous poster…unless “Hadrianus” is your real name, of course. How is that wall coming along, BTW?

      • hadrianus says:

        It’s the origin Latin name of a Roman emperor; I am bearing it’s Italian translation because I am a fan of him; he was a higly cultured personality 🙂
        -but who are you?

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          Oh, really? What do you think the “wall” reference was supposed to mean? For a big fan of Hadrianus, you don’t seem to know all too much about him…

          The Italian version of his name is “Adriano”, BTW, not Hadrianus.

          And who am I? Just me. Just me and my real name, no need for fancy Roman Emperors’ names to hide behind.

          • hadrianus says:

            Of course I know about Hadrian’s wall, but I do not understand what do you exactly mean with your sentence. You too, apparently seem not understand my sentences. I clearly explained that my name was the Italian translation of Hadrianus – and this is, of course, Adriano (my real name), so what? The majority in here bear pseudos; if you have a problem with this, lets close this conversation, since this theme does not belong in here.

  • Gonout Backson says:

    Nothing to add about the most overrated musician of our time, but maybe something about his Lord and Master :


    2. On September 26th, the “parliament” of the “Popular Republic of Lugansk” has voted an interesting law “”о защите христианских традиций народа ЛНР от тлетворного влияния обычаев вражеских держав, таких как Украина, Европейский союз, Канада и США” (“on the protection of the Christian traditions of the people of PRL from the corrupting influence of enemy powers, such as Ukraine , the European Union , Canada and the United States”). One of the articles of the law imposes 5 years of prison or 2 to 4 years of hard labour for homosexual acts. If the use of force, or a minor is involved, it can go as far as the death penalty.

    Now, that’s some anti-fascism for you.

    3. On the occasion of Putin’s 62nd anniversary (which is, accidentally of course, the 8th anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder), a particularly savoury exposition has taken place in one of Moscow’s galleries. 12 paintings represented Putin as Hercules in his 12 labours.

  • hadrianus says:

    Thanks G. Backson!
    I have taped down this nightmarish film “Hunted” on DVD, as well as two other critical documentaries (on the Olympics and on the Oligarchs), made by a renowned Russian journalist. As a conductor I worked regularly in Moscow since 1994, but lately I have decided not to visit Russia anymore – not only for political reasons (I am no political expert) but because I am gay myself and do not want to vistit a country anymore, which lives more than 200 years back. The main problem is not only Putin, but the Ortdodox Church and but the dumb population who believe everything what Putin spreads in his one media.

  • Gonout Backson says:

    The really funny part of this disgusting show being that it works under an “anti-fascist” label, with a massive support from the extreme, sometimes frankly proto-fascist, antisemite right, while many on the left applaud… Talk about mental confusion.