Valergy Gergiev declares himself ‘allergic’ to western media

Valergy Gergiev declares himself ‘allergic’ to western media


norman lebrecht

October 15, 2016

In a long, rambling interview to the Financial Times’s former bureau chief, he seems to be in complete denial about his subservience to Vladimir Putin and his service to the Russian propaganda machine.


Yet there is another side to Gergiev, on display a few weeks earlier in a very different location and on a very different occasion. In the dusty, ancient city of Palmyra, recently recaptured by the Syrian army from the fanatical jihadis of Isis, Gergiev conducted a short concert in the Roman theatre in a performance dripping with political symbolism. The previous year Isis murdered 25 people at the site, turning their executions into a propaganda film.

gergiev palmyra

“I saw the blood on the stones myself,” Gergiev told me later in London. “We musicians, we artists, are asking politicians: why did you allow this to happen?”

Has he ever challenged Putin about the air strikes on aid convoys and hospitals carried out by the Assad regime with Putin’s approval? Has he ever considered that he might be acting as an apologist for war crimes?

This is no longer the Valery Gergiev we once knew and admired.

Full report here.


  • harold braun says:


  • Robin Mitchell-Boyask says:

    I am not sure how many of “us” ever admired him (musically or politically)!

    Maybe he will endorse Trump soon,

    • Brian says:

      It wouldn’t surprise me if he endorsed Trump. Gergiev has really cast his net with the Putin regime. The fact is, Western arts presenters won’t shut their doors to Gergiev and his ilk, so he’ll stay on his current course.

      • John Borstlap says:

        But that may change when audiences no longer tolerate his political alliance.

        I much regret G’s naivity in his bond with the regime. Potentially he is a great conductor, but well, there’s more in life than classical music. Putin’s support for Russian art is clearly ideologically driven, to compensate for the deplorable state of Russian society. But Russian artists understandably want to give their native achievements some greater profile, nothing wrong with that, and the regime cleverly takes advantage of this in itself perfectly justifiable need.

        Some 7 years ago, he was planning to perform some pieces of mine in London, which did not come-off, and now I am happy to have avoided being compromised in that way.

        • Sue says:

          I have to agree with these comments. Putin and his regime are increasingly menacing; and you’re right – Gergiev is terribly naive.

  • Michael says:

    Maybe he is a kind of modern Wilhelm Furtwangler?

    • John Borstlap says:

      Probably yes, something of the kind. With the caveat that Putin has up till now not shown the level of criminal insanity characteristic of nazism.

  • Peter says:

    Yawn indeed. good for him. the western – forced into line – media machine of our days is a plague indeed, well, 99% of it.
    Why should Gergiev challenge Putin for air raids in Syria, before Lebrecht has called all Western artists to challenge Bush, now Obama, for air raids in Iraq, Libya, yada yada?

    To challenge the US gov. for arming the ‘rebels’ in Syria, in just another reckless attempt to overthrow a regime that Israel wants to see overthrown?

    Where does all the stupid belligerent hatred toward Russia come from? From a side that has much more blood on its own fingers.

    • Manfred Gerber says:

      NATO and Western media has taken possession of slippedisc
      for some time now. This is also lack of history. One must look
      back at the 19th and 20th political events against Russia…
      This seems to be a big problem for our politicians. And the
      running 21th continues.
      Simply read Peter Ustinovs great book: My Russia
      And now, please stop bashing Putin, Gergiev and Russia.
      Wake up, Norman Lebrecht. The truth is beyond your knowledge.

    • MacroV says:

      The situations are in no way comparable. No western musician that I’m aware of has a similar relationship to a head of state. Merkel may be a regular at the Berlin Philharmonic, but pretty sure Sir Simon isn’t depending on her patronage and neither he nor the BPO acts as a propaganda vehicle for the German state. Pretty sure Obama doesn’t even know the name of any major American conductor. Gergiev has a much closer relationship to Putin, and in 2008 took the Maryinsky Orchestra to one of the disputed territories in Georgia (forget the name of the town) after the Russian takeover, clearly an endorsement of said action. In addition to this Syria appearance.

      • Peter says:

        True Rattle doesn’t depend on Merkel’s patronage. (even though Barenboim does)
        Neither does in all likelihood Obama know the name of a major American conductor.
        But not tell us please, how does that in any way incriminate Gergiev or Putin?

        Your info about “disputed Georgian territories” is wrong. We are talking about the CIA tool and Georgian President Saakashvili in the heydays of the Bush admin provoking Russia by shelling a Russian garrison in South Ossetia, because the Neocons in their last days too much would have liked to tickle Russia a bit more, sadly they realized that they had no time left to take care of their Anti-Russian agenda more thoroughly.

    • Heath says:

      Guess little Peter is an ISIS supporter since he doesn’t like those US bombs dropped on them in places like Iraq. And an Assad supporter too. Bravo Peter!! You really see things clearly!

      • Peter says:

        Heath, reality is bit more complex than a cartoon. ISIS was created mostly due to US policies in the region, in case one has to state the obvious again.
        And Assad ruled over a relatively stable and prosperous country, he was certainly no democrat, but since when has that decided over US position to someone, since the US collaborates with the most evil dictators, as long as they dance to their tune. Assad didn’t, so here we are. Tens of thousands of innocent civilian blood shed. Another country robbed of a future, another country with women bombed back into the stone age. Thank you USA.

    • Andrew Zaplatynsky says:

      Where indeed does the “hatred” come from? First of all, it is directed at the Kremlin; not the Russian people. As far as “blood on your hands”, the dubious honor for most victims goes to Mao’s China, and a close second goes to the Lenin/Stain era of the USSR. Putin is building his legacy on the bones of millions who were killed by the State. Instead of remembering the dead, Putin is reviving the cult of the murderer, Joseph Stalin. But Putin is not reviving socialism;, Stalin is just a useful prop. Putin is modeling his new Russia on National Socialism and the Third Reich.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It may be of interest ti know that the Russian regime conducts an intensive disinformation propaganda war, spreading pure lies and nonsense repetitively via internet channels to influence Western civilians, and it seems to work at some places and at some websites.

  • Martin says:

    I totally agree with Peter and his comment! Screw this western hypocricy! Everything is blamed on Russia this days.

    • Andrew Zaplatynsky, says:

      The blame is richly deserved. Putin has created a criminal fascist state.

    • John Borstlap says:

      A trumpist comment. When you follow the different Western media who independently from each other come-up with comparable material, and indepth research and discussion programmes with experts (the German TV is good at that), you will find it possible to get some generally objective information. That has nothing to do with ‘hypocrisy’. The reason for this reliable stream of information is the longstanding tradition of attempts at true and reliable news provision in the West, because of the history of the last century. In contrast with this, Russian media are mere propaganda outlets for the regime, spreading disinformation and lies, in an attempt to mislead the population, and resulting in a majority of people living in a collective nonsense projection, with all the dangers that implies. The same with most of the Middle-East countries.

  • carlos says:

    It’s true there’s a lot of russophobia and western hypocrisy going around in the mainstream media, but Gergiev’s influence in the world of classical music has been almost completely negative. Somehow, with all that russophobia going against him, he was able to collect at least half a dozen orchestra directorships in the west, and his influence and patronage network includes Dudamel and Barenboim. Just read about the scheming around La Scala appointments. If only he cared about music as much as Barenboim… But he only cares about power, and like fading wonderboy Dudamel he’s hungry for celebrity, wants to monopolize the limelight like a spoilt and overrated diva. And he maybe a Russian patriot, but he cares even less about the plight of the common man & woman than the corrupt siloviky around Putin. The best writing on the post Soviet cultural mafia Gergiev belongs to is by John Helmer… Just check his superb column on “The Stalins of Sound”…

    • John Borstlap says:

      That is a rambling article with many misconceptions about music history, and the worst is the claim that today’s bad situation in Russia for the arts is much wose ‘than anything going before’- thinking of the Stalin purges of the thirties.

      • Sue says:

        I just wish Shostakovich was still here to give us his views. That erswhile KGB operative Putin would remind Dmitri of quite a lot, I’m sure. And Australians want somebody punished for shooting down that Malaysian Airlines plane over the Ukraine: we all know who did it. One family lost their 3 children and a father (the children’s grandfather). That criminal in the Kremlin is responsible.

  • Tim Walton says:

    How can Gergiev ask Putin a question whe’s he’s too busy woth his tongue up Putin’s A**e.

  • Maria Los says:

    Then get lost…..

  • Maria Los says:

    Get stuffed…..

  • Robert Holmén says:

    But not allergic to Western employment or money.

    • Peter says:

      free market economy. don’t like it anymore?
      Gergiev is a patriotic Russian. Can’t per se see anything wrong with that.

      • MacroV says:

        One can be a patriot through dissent, too. Rostropovich, Solzhenitsyn, Brodsky, Sakharov, and others were all people who loved their country greatly. Support for the current ruler/regime is not the only way to show one’s patriotism.

        • Peter says:

          And who are you and from where do you make that comment, to qualify for even giving judgment who has to be a dissident? What have you done lately to defend freedom and liberty? Except venting hot air out of your mouth?
          This world needs a lot more dissidents, but how about you start at your front door?

  • debussyste says:

    He likes western money, it seems ! He is a disaster in the making.

    • Peter says:

      What has western money to do with anything? Oh you mean a musician is a kind of prostitute, and if he takes the money he has to shut up and be to your service, right?

  • Tom Gossard says:

    “Fading wonderboy Dudamel” is actually doing quite well, musically. True his wunderkind status is now thankfully in the past, and the Dude shows us his genuine maturity of musicianship and interpretive insights. He is world musician of sterling caliber! And, for those who think I am a “traditional” Dudamel apologist, I am not. I have had many skeptical thoughts and takes on Dudamel in the past. But his recent work in Los Angeles has been superb, while the orchestra itself sounds more and more like a top international band. Seriously!