Gidon Kremer lays into Anna Netrebko

Gidon Kremer lays into Anna Netrebko


norman lebrecht

December 11, 2014

The Latvian violinist was asked by Deutsche Welle to respond to the Russian soprano’s public support for illegal Ukraine factions. He said that the cheque Netrebko gave to a separatist leader had been a ‘completely conscious and political act.’

Kremer added: ‘Artists should spread peace and harmony. It’s a shame that one of the world’s most beautiful voices makes such incongruous  noises.’

Künstler sollten Harmonie und Frieden stiften. Schade, dass eine der schönsten Stimmen der Welt solche zweifelhaften Töne von sich gib.

gidon kremer

UPDATE: Gidon has asked us to publish the full text of his DW comments, which were actually a joint statement with the composer Giya Kancheli:
(Von Giya Kancheli)
“Wie schoen wäre diese Aktion vor einem Jahr-wo in Donetzk noch kein Krieg angestiftet wurde – gewesen”

(Von Giya Kancheli und Gidon Kremer gemeinsam).

“Heute kann man nur feststellen,dass es eine total bewusste und politische Handlung (Haltung) ist.
Jedenfalls-keine Versoehnungs-Geste, die der Lösung des Konfliktes in der Region verhilft oder der legitimen Einheit der Ukraine zugute kommen kann.

(Von Gidon Kremer).
” Künstler sollten Harmonie und Frieden stiften….So schade, dass eine der schönsten Stimmen der Welt solche zweifelhafte Töne von sich gibt…”


  • Manu says:

    Und welche Töne gibt Gidon Kremer von sich? Vielleicht das schöne Lied: “Money, money, money…”

  • Milka says:

    Good for Mr.Kremer, in fact he was being too kind with his comments.
    Netrebko aligning herself with thugs
    under phony “humanitarian ” mantle
    should be boycotted by all .Glad to see
    the airline has cut ties with this creature.

    • Maria Los says:

      Unfortunately it’s the West’s fault for inviting her; she’s made herself perfectly clear. They say she also lives in NYC; if this is accurate then the U.S. should kick her out. No matter how talented she is she shouldn’t be performing here.

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    Considering the intonation when he plays his fiddle… wrong choice of words.

  • Milka says:

    Turchev — I suspect his fiddle intonation
    was just an imitation of her off pitch singing .It is observed that when singing with Beczala he keeps her on pitch & she is passable, alone she sings to her own scale . As a good Pole
    he should now avoid her now that we
    know what she is all about .

    • M2N2K says:

      A few days ago I heard both Netrebko and Beszala singing separately in the same concert, and she sounded better and cleaner than he did. It is possible that he had a bad day, but I am just reporting what I heard.

  • Christy says:

    This video is of the Donetsk Opera – it was just uploaded by a Donetsk resident. It shows no damage to the building at all. There is nothing for her money to repair. It is not “partially damaged” as she claimed.

    The signs advertise performances coming up at the end of December, confirming it is a new video, and they don’t need Anna’s money. What will the money be used for?

    If she really believed her money would be used for opera reconstruction she should immediately demand it back so that it does not get diverted to payments for weapons.

    • Christy says:

      Actually, she claimed the Opera House had been “partially destroyed,” not damaged as wrote earlier. It doesn’t look destroyed at all.

  • sandy says:

    in the comments in russian below the video one can read that the decoration storage is damaged (situated somewhere else in the city).
    But who cares, everyone is sure that she must be blamed, even Gidon Kremer himself

  • Dennis says:

    Silly me, when I saw the phrase “illegal Ukraine factions,” I thought it referred to the Western-back coup leaders in Kiev. God forbid Russians like Netrebko support their kinsmen in what has always been the heartland of Russian national identity – Kiev Rus.

    • Christy says:

      That’s a terrific idea – why don’t we have all nationalities support their “kinsmen” all over Europe- just march their forces in, drive in the tanks, and take it over to support their “kinsmen.” I wonder what would happen in Europe if other countries – like, say, Germany – followed Russia’s lead. Or… heaven forbid…. Ukraine attempted to claim the primarily Ukrainian lands currently behind Russian borders.

      And Kyivan Rus was Ukrainian before it was Russian. But I suppose the two could just continue to kill each other over it, rather than uphold international legal agreements to respect borders. What good are borders anyway?

      • andy lim says:

        dear anonymus,

        many countries are not the same after worldwar II like poland, germany. other examples like alsace, belgium, tyrole changed borders with international agreements, presents and war tributes. should separatists from all these countries have the right to separate with historical rights of former autonomy? armed right? many countries were never before the countries they are today. where is the limit? i think a vodka mood is still preferable than thousands of killed citizans to changes autonomy, but anonymus is obviously of a different opinion.

      • Christy says:

        Yes, you’re correct – no “Ukrainian” nation existed 300 or 400 years ago – the term wasn’t used until the lands became the middle ground between two or more warring groups centuries later. Hence the current name “borderland” [the translation of Ukraine].

        But Kyivan Rus did exist on the land that is now Ukraine.

        Moscow and Russia didn’t exist then either. The Moskovy tribe broke away to form Russia on the East, *after* leaving Kyivan Rus.

        Neither “Ukraine” or “Russia” existed then, centuries ago. Now they do and they have since the 19th century.

        Regarding Crimea – it is the ancestral land of the Tatars, so it is neither historically Russian nor Ukrainian. If Russia has the right to claim Kyivan Rus, the Tatars have the right to claim Crimea.

        Do you see the issues brought up if you insist on looking backwards instead of standing in the present and looking to a better future?

        All of Europe would be filled with territorial wars if the view was backwards.

        • Christy says:

          Anonymus, if his invasion of Ukraine and support of separatists was designed to be a response to other countries’ independent aspirations to join a defensive alliance, Mr. Putin should first ask why so many former Soviet republics and clients wanted to join. Then, he should ask himself if he has achieved what must be his purpose if the problem was so-called NATO encirclement (putting aside that the map doesn’t show this). Did he push NATO back and scare everyone enough that they’re running away from NATO. Unfortunately for him, not even a little. Now, the former Soviet republics and clients are DESPERATE to join NATO. Even Finland, which hasn’t shown any interest before is expressing its desire. There is renewed, urgent interest in a defensive alliance. Central European countries, including the Baltics and Poland, are even discussing their own separate military alliance.

          So, perhaps Mr. Putin should realize that the reason NATO continues to be viable is the person looking at him in the mirror.

          Regarding Canada and Mexico allying with Russia, I can guarantee you the United States wouldn’t be dumb enough to invade Canada to send a message that they didn’t like the idea. All that would do is confirm for our neighbors that the alliance was needed.

  • ganymede says:

    I completely agree with Gidon Kremer.

    I don’t understand why the West has to has to continue paying artists (including Gergiev) who consciously and openly support politics which threatens peace and stability.

    • andy lim says:

      the fact usa is acting politically uncorrect and agressively still does not make the russian politically uncorrect and agressively behaviour more acceptable. boycotting only one of them (independent of any order of boycotture), shows a great amount of subjective state of minds which make it not to be taken seriously by anybody sane.

    • ganymede says:

      Just try and reverse the situation to assess the differences of tolerance. Imagine a Western conductor taking over a major Russian orchestra as chief conductor and then expressing his/her political views against Russia openly. Will he keep his job?

      Anyways, as a private person I can and do easily avoid the opportunistic Netrebkos and Gergievs of this world.

      • Gonout Backson says:

        You mean – like Charlton Heston supporting the Iraq war?

      • Gonout Backson says:

        Gergiev officially supported the invasion and annexion of Crimea. And you cannot have it both ways : either Gergiev and Netrebko “speak their patriotic minds” or they “don’t defend any ideas”.

        Otherwise, according to you, to attack a country on another continent is worse than to attack a neighbour? The distance is the thing?

        As for Kissinger : first he was useful to you people as an imperialist warmonger. Now he has changed his use. Of course, the fact that what he’s saying today is complete nonsense remains irrelevant – as I said before, you don’t deal with reality.

    • vonessek says:

      What are you saying? That the world should not start hating all American artists because their country bombs, assassinates,tortures, invades and occupies countries left and right? What all this has to do with opera and art?!

      • Gonout Backson says:

        1. Since it’s wrong for the US to do it, it’s all right for the others to do it?
        2. “What it has to do with opera and art”? Try to remember this point during your next conversation about Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.

        • vonessek says:

          1. It’s not all right for anyone, this is my claim exactly: we cannot hold artists accountable for misdeeds of their governments.
          2. I still think it has nothing to do with art. Wagner’s anti-Semitism is despicable, yet should we destroy all his works and ban him from school curriculums? This is exactly what this hysteria would like to achieve, to assassinate Netrebko’s character and career.

          • M2N2K says:

            1. No, we cannot, but we *can* hold them accountable for going out of their way to show support for such “misdeeds”.
            2. Perhaps “it has nothing to do with art”, but it does have a lot to do with the artist.

  • Jorge Grundman says:

    The phrase of Mr. Kremer should always remember. Not only am I agree with him, but that’s what I’ve become my daily goal.

  • Gonout Backson says:

    You mean – like a certain chancellor “supported” Germans of the Sudetenland? Same fallacious pretexts, blatant lies and aggressive acts? And just as “supported” by the whole European extreme-right?

  • john humphreys says:

    I see that the usual ‘Slipped Disc’ coterie hard at work on this one. What does it matter what Netrebko does with her dosh – presumably it’s not intended for arming the rebels (as such they are)? Were it so it would be a different matter. Off to work now…..

  • vonessek says:

    “Künstler sollten Harmonie und Frieden stiften…” This is applicable to Mr. Kremer himself, an artist who constantly seeks conflict in domain of politics, not art. Ms. Netrebko donates to opera house, Mr. Kremer sees it as politics which is just fine as it gives him opportunity to engage in bashing. Harmonie und Frieden? He could start with spreading more harmony, less assault himself.

  • Gonout Backson says:

    Let’s hope Tsaryov spent his million fast, it’s shrinking by the hour : 19,000 dollars four days ago, 17,242 today.

  • Peter Metrinko says:

    Let’s reflect a little bit about Putin versus the EU. Many EU members were complicit in the US torture/black site/rendition program. Poland has finally admitted it hosted a torture chamber. The United States has been morally stained for years (Iraq and Vietnam invasions). As moral citizens should we ignore that, too? Many classical musicians have appeared at the White House playing for leaders of the blackest morality. Before one casts aspersions at those who defend Russia, one might look into the mirror.

    • Gonout Backson says:

      Congratulations, Mr Metrinko, this is a classic. “We” are never innocent enough to take the high moral ground and condemn criminal regimes of the Putin kind, avowed heir of URSS, led by a recent defender of the Stalin/Hitler pact.

      Summa summarum : we should shut up and watch other people suffer, since, anyway, they’re not that innocent either (you know : neonazis). They never are. Even the Jews weren’t, with all their banks and stuff.

      For your information, and it might come as a surprise : the US never “invaded Vietnam”. At that time, there wasn’t even such a thing as “Vietnam”.

      • Peter Metrinko says:

        What several commenters have missed is that this is not purely a Ukraine-Russia battle, but a NATO/US-Russia battle, with Ukraine as a surrogate. The US has heavily invested in Ukraine to overthrow the democratically elected government. Ms. Victoria Nuland of the State Department was a principal in charge of the program. So when you are praising the current Ukraine government, you are praising a government that is a puppet of the United States. There was no major Ukraine-Russia problem until the US spent several billion dollars to overturn what the people formerly had chosen. And when Ukraine chose to sleep with the US, it chose a country with a long history of torture and killing of innocent people. Backson and Milka apparently do not read any of the US foreign policy journals, which have discussed this extensively. Have they also not read the US Senate torture report? Have they not counted up the dead from the US invasions of Iraq and Vietnam? (Backson does not think the US invaded Vietnam. If you are playing a semantic game, you’re off base. It was no longer French Indo-China. In Saigon, the anti-Communist State of Vietnam was granted independence in 1949. Following the Geneva Accord of 1954, the Viet Minh became the government of North Vietnam.)

        So the Phoenix Program never took place, Backson? I welcome you all to read about the terrible torture that took place. Electrodes attached to the genitals of women as well as men. Spikes into the brain. That legacy is the one Ukraine embraces when it chooses to follow the US puppet master.

        • Gonout Backson says:

          More of the same? So, let’s shoot this Vanka-Vstanka again.

          Ukraine’s candidature to NATO has been rejected twice, the second time very recently.

          The money Nuland spoke of (400 mln dollars a year) is not only a small sum (the Met’s yearly budget is close), but to say it financed the “overthrowing” of Yanukovich is insulting nonsense. Unless you consider the money financed Yanukovich’s flight from Kiev, that would be interesting.

          Vietnam : I don”t “believe it”, it’s obvious, and you confirm it. There was no such thing as “Vietnam”, as there was to such thing as “Germany”, not before the liberation of the “DDR” and the reunification.

          First : no one is “praising” Ukraine’s government. Second : Ukraine’s government has been democratically elected.

          The rest – the torture affair, awful in its own right, has nothing to do with Ukraine – is just a desperate attempt to change the subject.

  • Milka says:

    Metrinko – is this not also an invasion
    under pretence of looking after Russian citizens. It is an internal Ukrainian
    affair -Russia has invaded the Ukraine
    plain and simple – reminds one of
    a certain Hitler and Sudetenland..
    then tie up with mass murderer Stalin.
    The subject at hand is not the U S and its problems but
    that a certain Netrebko supports the
    present thugs ruling Russia . That she
    gives support under guise of ‘humanitarian ” response is laughable .One suspects that if the opportunistic
    Ms. Netrebkro were to have sung a different song and condemned the
    Russian invasion of the Ukraine ,you might be dismissing her now as a pawn of the west if not worse .Ms.
    Netrebko has sided with thugs as have many Russians as also did the Germans with Hitler. She made a public show of her character and now
    must live with it good or bad .In the long run this all means absolutely nothing-much like passing gas during a hurricane.While defending mother Russia I bet you don’t look into
    that mirror for too long for what you truly might see.

  • esfir ross says:

    Warehouse that has costume and decorations of Donetsk opera was burn. Anna Netrebko gave help out of compassion.

  • Katpal says:

    Bravo Mr.Kremer ! Well said.

  • Branimir says:

    If this is the common level of a discussion among well educated and art loving people, one can only conclude that there is no hope for humanity and that the WW3 is inevitable and near. So sad.

  • Gonout Backson says:

    You mean – like Charlton Heston defending the Iraq war?

  • MacroV says:

    One thing Ms. Netrebko better watch out for: The United States has laws barring (and consequently seriously punishing) “material support for terrorism.” A number of people who made well-meaning donations to groups that the U.S. then designated as a terrorist organization subsequently found themselves with a lot of legal trouble.

    I don’t know if the U.S. government has designated any Ukrainian separatists as terrorists, but if they do, her donation, while perhaps intended for cultural purposes, could cause her trouble, at a minimum with getting visas.

  • Christy says:

    To Norman and others – is this controversy affecting Netrebko’s album sales? I see her Four Last Songs missed the classical UK charts (if I am reading correctly). There is no sight of it anywhere in the US.

    How is it doing in other countries?