Munich soloist: I turn down dates with Gergiev

The Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili, who lives in Munich and is a German citizen, makes no secret of her political differences with the city’s music director.

In an interview with Merkur, Batiashvili says Gergiev has learned to expect opposition from artists who resent his support for Vladimir Putin. ‘I have turned down concert offers with him,’ she says bluntly. ‘I am lucky to be able to work with other outstanding conductors.’

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  • If she’s so proud if this perhaps she should stop using it to promote herself. This is ild news. By the way, does she know the politics of every musician with which she works? A litmus test in the arts is not artistic at all.

    • While I find much promotional material abhorrent, this is a straightforward conversation on politics mixed with biography. There is none of the vulgarity in the constant drip of articles on Domingo, diDonato and whatever flavor of female conductor that is on tap. I’m grateful to her for standing up for her values in a time where it’s needed.

      As to the second poster, she’s married. Says it in the first paragraph, if one bothers to actually read the interview.

      • +10000 People such as ‘Georgia’ and ‘Alexander’ seem to not to know of Casals, not exactly quietly, opposing Franco, or Claudio Arrau refusing to play in Chile until Pinochet was gone. If they did these things on the quiet there would be much less impact. There are numerous other cases of this sort. Batiashvili is simply taking action based on principle, and these are things I want to know about, even if ‘Georgia’ doesn’t.

    • She may not know all the political views of every conductor she works with, but we all know Gergiev’s positions and we all can prefer to not work with him, listen to his work, attend his concerts, etc. Yes, choice is a nice thing.

      • Indeed. Artists of integrity at the highest level, like Batiashvili (and I don’t know a finer violinist), can afford to choose plenty of other fine conductors. And we as listeners, having been grateful for all that Gergiev’s done in the past, can turn to those other fine conductors too.

  • why did she decide to sign the contract for this concert? where were her political views then?

    • I don’t know and neither do you, but she has made the correct decision now. And besides, nobody needs this guy on their resume in order to be successful.

  • She’s Georgian in first place. V.Georgiev support South Osetia during aggression of Georgia, so Putin. Georgia look shameful and what hurt Lisa national pride. There bad blood between Lisa and Putin, V.Georgiev. Simple public revenge.

  • For heaven’s sake. Music is music. Politics is politics. Race is race. Religion is religion. Music should leave aside race, nationality, politics, religion and sex.

    • You couldn’t be more wrong. First, matters like Russia taking over parts of Georgia, seizing Crimea and meddling in eastern Ukraine isn’t just “politics,” neatly compartmentalized. Georgian artists like Lisa Batiashvili (and I assume Khatia Buntiashvili) not wanting to work with Putin cheerleader Gergiev is very personal. And hardly unprecedented: Rostropovich got himself exiled for his support of Solzhenitsyn and his performances in the west (post-exile) frequently had political overtones. Casals refused to perform in Franco’s Spain; Isaac Stern wouldn’t perform in Germany; many Jewish musicians understandably wouldn’t perform with Karajan; and Kubelik wouldn’t go back to communist Czechslovakia. Generally they were all respected and admired for taking such stands. To say they should have let music be music, and politics be politics would be to belittle their very legitimate reasons for taking such stands.

        • I think Isaac Stern did…

          The few recordings I have with Stern is low quality and… hmmm – actually unlistenable! I wonder if Karajan would have had any interest in working with such a lousy violinist. Regarding Stern I must have missed something along the way…

        • As Tommy mentions in his response to your question, Isaac Stern was one of them. Others were Arthur Rubinstein, Itzhak Perlman and the American tenor Richard Tucker. Tucker cancelled his involvement with a 1956 recording of Il Trovatore, after learning that Karajan would be conducting (he threatened to do the same some years later regarding a Aida recording with Callas but Karajan ended up being replaced by Tullio Serafin).

        • Perlman and Zukerman are on record as having turned down invitations from Karajan. (Perlman, of course, made a number of well-known recordings with the Berlin Phil, under Barenboim.) Stern refused to perform anywhere in Germany as I recall.

    • I believe Karita Mattila was the first to make a strong stand against Gergiev. Glad another artist I admire has chosen to do the same. Not going to condemn those who play with or sing for him, but Batiashvili is a Mensch as well as a great musician.

  • If I didn’t listen to music by artists with whom I disagreed politically or personally I’d have very little to hear.
    But I do understand the importance of the artist taking the stance: with her stature, she can draw much-needed attention to Putin’s aggression.

    • “Putin’s aggression”- yes, Russia indeed has the effrontery to place their country right next to all of those American military bases, to protest against the US-EU puppet regime in Kiev that ousted an legitimately elected president by force, and to survive on one-tenth of the American annual military budget.

  • I truly believe it is a selfless and highly important thing Batiashvili is doing.
    To those cynics who think that this is about self promotion – I think my you are missing the point, and perhaps are also falling into the tricky low-key sexism area.
    No one cares enough about what Putin is doing in Georgia. This artist is using her influence, however limited, to do something about it. It is, understandably, personal for her – but she didn’t have to do this. Not everyone does. It’s a choice she is making as a human, and a brave one at that.

    On a different note, the title of this piece has a somewhat yellow tint to it – hopefully unintentionally. Unless you are click-bating, I would suggest changing “dates” to “concerts” or “professional engagements” or something else that doesn’t seem quite so tabloid-y.

    • What Georgia was doing in a small country of South Ossetia in 08.08.2008? Gergiev is ossetian, and Batiashvili georgian. That’s all.

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