Maestro swoop: Verbier puts Gergiev in Levine’s former role

Maestro swoop: Verbier puts Gergiev in Levine’s former role


norman lebrecht

December 06, 2017

The Verbier Festival, which has failed to answer questions about James Levine’s tenure as music director of the festival orchestra between 2000 and 2009, has announced Valery Gergiev as its next m.d., from this summer.

He succeeds Charles Dutoit, who retired after eight seasons.

The orchestra, with players aged 16 to 29, requires intensive rehearsal.

That is not Valery Gergiev’s forte. He is a last-minute kind of music director.

This is a questionable appointment in troubling times. Martin Engstroem, the founder (below), is earnestly trying to focus attention on the festival’s 25th anniversary.



  • Alexander says:

    sounds very optimistic

  • Nick says:

    Verbier is also about money – big money! The name Gergiev will keep the major sponsors happy as their clients quaff their champagne and savour the caviar in the hospitality tents.

  • RW2013 says:

    I’ve seen VG conduct a German/Russian youth orchestra where he looked bored and unconcentrated (and I believe that the preparation was done by assistants anyway).

    • Sue says:

      I’ve seen him conducting 3 times, the most recent of these in Amsterdam. It was a good experience for me each time. I call him “flutter fingers”.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    He gave a fascinating master class recently at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The students got a lot out of it. Maybe it depends on the quality and talent of the young musicians.

    • Bruce says:

      Or the mood of the person giving the class. I remember attending a 2-week master class by a famous flute player & teacher that was a total waste of time & money — except for about two 20-minute stretches where he woke up and started teaching. For those brief periods, he was a magician; the rest of the time he was just a grumpy old man who took pleasure in tearing down young people. (And it was the same group of students for the whole time.)

  • George says:

    So from an alleged child molester to a close ally of Putin. Way to clean house, Verbier.

  • Ungeheuer says:

    So, Herr Engstroem keeps on giving the silent treatment, I see. Must be the lawyers are still copying and pasting their boilerplate. “Jimmy will be Jimmy” he once said to a young male victim of Levine’s at Verbier.

  • Charles Fischbein says:

    George, whatever you may think of Putin he passed strict laws in Russia designed to protect young people from perverts like Levine.
    You sound like one of those fools who demonstrated at the Mets opening night when Gergiev conducted.
    Thank God for people like Putin and President Trump who protect children.
    Let’s not forget the recent quote by Ivanka Trump
    There is a special place in Hell for people who harm children.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      We know how Donald Trump reliably stands up for numerous forms of bigotry. We’ve also recently seen him stand up for a Republican who is credibly suspected of child molestation – at a level of proof comparable to that for James Levine.

      How exactly does Donald Trump protect children?

      • Petros Linardos says:

        There is currently a special place in the White House for someone who bragged about grabbing young powerless women by their pussies, a few months getting married for a third time.

    • Andreas B. says:

      President Trump protects children? really?
      by campaigning for Roy Moore, for example?

      ah, of course, I see: Moore allegedly just molested girls – much less perverted than all those morally bankrupt homosexuals …

    • La Verita says:

      Oh yeah – Trump is so protective of children that he oogles his own daughter and says he wants to date her.

      • Sue says:

        OMG: is THAT what it takes nowadays to get the Dow powering ahead, reduced company taxes, increases in employment and reduced illegal immigration? Shows just how difficult a gig it has become that it takes an alleged misogynist, Tweet addict and successful company director with all the charm of a depression-era bulldozer to get America off its backside and moving again.

    • Brian says:

      Along with the above examples of how Trump doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to children and sexual assault, there’s the fact that his favor-the-wealthy policies are starving poor communities of access to health care, decent public education and subsidized housing, among other things. The man is about as anti-children as one can be.

      But this is getting off-topic. Verbier, it’s safe to say, didn’t take a very bold approach in their hiring of Gergiev. Why not make an important statement with a woman, black or hispanic music director? There are plenty who are also top-notch musicians.

    • Alan says:

      What utter drivel. Is there a special place for cretins?

      • Charles Fischbein says:

        Yes Alan there is a special place in hell for your kind. A BOX SEAT next to Levine with a black curtain and a pillow and of course knee pads.
        Enjoy yourself

    • Sue says:

      Correction: protecting “Russian” children; not so hot for the Ukrainians.

      • David Nice says:

        Charles Fischbein, shame on you – your lead remark is disgraceful. Putin’s laws were against the promotion of homosexuality. You should know not to equate homosexuality with paedophilia (if you want the statistics, there is much more so-called heterosexual paedophilia). In that climate, gay teenagers are much more suicide-prone; it’s another of Putin’s forms of murder. And Gergiev (see below) condoned it.

  • Ben says:

    Hahaha. Tragic. Gergiev has a closet full of his own grotesque skeletons, especially at the Met.

  • Charles Fischbein says:

    I wish those elite liberals focus on facts. The point I made is that Putin has enabled anti homosexual laws to be put in effect in Russia aimed at protecting children
    The present Department of Justice crackdown on gangs like MS13 that traffics in minors and the ICE crackdown on criminal aliens protects every law abiding American, children included
    I guess the upper West side of Manhattan is now a hub of liberalism and a major sanctuary for all sorts of perversion.

    • Andreas B. says:

      sigh …
      it might be futile, but anyway:
      children have to be protected from homosexuals?

      I might be called a liberal (I’ve never understood why in the US this term is used as an insult), but I’m certainly not elite – in any case, I fail to see why namecalling is required to make a point.

    • harold braun says:

      Trumpist moronic bullshit.

  • Nik says:

    Gergiev definitely needs a few more jobs. I understand he spends far too much time in rehearsals and not enough time on aeroplanes.

  • harold braun says:

    Great choice!

  • Alex Leandro says:

    I understand Mr. Engstroem got Mr. Gerghiev’s KGB file and found him KOSHER!

  • harold braun says:

    Gergiev did a great job with NYO USA in its first season,including a tour(they also did a fantastic concert at the proms).

  • David Nice says:

    From sexual misconduct (alleged, but who hasn’t heard the stories over the decades?) to political misspeaking (proven – let’s not forget “This law is not about homosexuality; it targets paedophilia. In Russia we protect our children”). I for one am not prepared to cut him any slack for that. And his conducting seems to be getting heavier, presumably under the weight of his Faustian pact with Putin. At least they’ve not rushed to throw laurels over Pletnev…