Gergiev’s new protégé is … his nephew

Gergiev’s new protégé is … his nephew


norman lebrecht

April 02, 2015

Valery Gergiev is giving a Conductors Masterclass in Amsterdam from 10 am tomorrow with the Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Focusing on Richard Strauss’s Don Juan and Claude Debussy’s La mer, he will be sharing his knowledge with three talented young conductors: Ben Gernon from the UK, Zaurbek Gugkaev from North Ossetia and Joshua Weilerstein from the US (says the media release).

Gernon and Weilerstein are bright young talents who have won conducting positions on merit.

Zaurbek Gugkaev is new to us. He is listed on the Mariinsky website as a staff conductor.




What is not listed in his c.v. is that his father Tamerlan Gugkaev is executive director of the Mariinsky concert hall.

Tamerlan is married to Gergiev’s sister (and former assistant), Svetlana.

A second sister, Larisa, is Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers and Artistic Director of the State Opera and Ballet Theatre of the Republic of Northern Ossetia-Alania (Vladikavkaz).

So much talent in one small family.



  • Ignacio Martínez-Ybor says:

    In fairness, I would not prejudge, as such has been the case in repeated instances, among the Russian artistic community: e.g., Assaf Messerer and Maya Plisetskaya, Marius and Andris Liepa, etc. For all we know, the boy is good.

    • Peter Schünemann says:

      “For all we know, the boy is good”. Yes, he is good. I heard him twice, conducting the (scenic) performances of “Zauberflöte” and “Nozze di Figaro” in Mariinsky’s Concert Hall. If Norman would check the Mariinsky web site more often, he would notice, that this young man is in charge of many performances in all Mariinsky venues : “Barbiere di Siviglia” (New Stage), “Nozze di Figaro” (also Historical Theatre), “Evgeny Onegin” (Historical Theatre, New Stage), Molchanov’s “The Dawns Here are Quiet” plus Concerts. Of course, we know that Valery Gergiev is his uncle, but he would not dare to ruin the reputation of his company by letting an untalented family member conduct performances. BTW – Zaurbek Gugkaev’s teacher is Leonid Korchmar, an adminstrator with big influence at the Mariinsky.

      • Alexander says:

        Yes they may be family, but he’s good. I’ve watched several of his performances at the Mariinsky, and Leonid Korchmar is a brilliant conducting teacher.

  • Ursula Dehne says:

    what do you think of the Abbado family, sons, nephew…

  • John Borstlap says:

    How regrettable that Annabel and Adolf von Karajan, Adenoid Klemperer, Picobello Toscanini, Dwight Barbirolli, the twins Heidi and Hildegard Furtwängler, Charlie Bernstein and – last but not least – Sophie Beecham never quite made it to the rostrum.

  • David Boxwell says:

    And that Carlos guy, Erich Kleiber’s son? Chopped liver, totally.

    • Anon says:

      Since you bring it up: Carlos father massively discouraged him against choosing conducting as a career. Erich Kleiber would *never* have tutored his son in a conducting master class.

  • Devil's Advocate says:

    Peter, you actually prove Norman’s point. If aside from such major culture capitals as Kislovodsk and Vladikavkaz, all that he conducts are the performances in the Historic Theater, New Theater and the Concert Hall (which his father runs) then either all the other concert and theater managers are death and blind, or that he indeed has a very good father-uncle relationship.

    • Peter Schünemann says:

      @Devil’s advocate. I am not quite sure whether I actually prove Norman’s point. I read from Norman’s message, that Zaurbek Gugkaev is given the chance to conduct at Gergiev’s master class, because he is his nephew. I would say, he is given the chance, because he is good.
      Some years ago I attended a Gergiev master class in Rotterdam, where one of the participants was US-American Gavriel Heine (Norman would call him “staff conductor” at the Mariinsky).
      Of course Zaurbek Gugkaev is a beginner, but a talented one. Why not give a talented beginner performances at the Opera House, which is run by his uncle? If he continues being a good leader of performances (IMO far from being a genius, but a good “Kapellmeister”), than other opera houses will follow.