Gustavo Dudamel is deep in denial

Gustavo Dudamel is deep in denial


norman lebrecht

April 27, 2018

His latest comments on Venezuela today in an interview with the London Times:

On El Sistema: ‘It is a symbol of our country — beautiful. It’s a symbol of our continent. It’s a symbol of the world… If I have a commitment, if I have something that I will care for in my life, it is this, art for the people. You can see, I’m a result of this.’

On the regime cancelling his Simon Bolivar tours: The cancellations were “a big surprise and very sad”, he says, but he tries “not to think about it”. He “never intended to get into a fight with the regime”, he says now, implying that he can’t afford to. El Sistema is only “alive because it’s supported by the state”. That is why he “didn’t say anything political”. “I only said you people that lead the country, please do something because the situation is not sustainable. I was not ‘this party’ or ‘this party’. And whatever I say now, people will take and interpret to their side or to the other. They will say, ‘Oh, he’s so weak, saying this.’ ” But, says Dudamel: “I always have to speak through the music, I think that is what El Sistema is about.

Read on here.


  • Clovis Marques says:

    No he’s not. YOU are deep in ideology and hate

  • Steve says:

    Let’s give the guy a break. Let’s face it; whatever he does, which ever side he takes – it’s going to be wrong… Just let him do what he does best MUSIC.

  • anon says:

    He’s a musician. He’s not an intellectual. His role is not that of a hero. If he jumped off the London Bridge tomorrow in protest of Madura, he would not be considered a martyr, not even by the small insular classical music world in which he is famous.

  • Sharon says:

    Well, what else can he say? He’s right, if he were being supported by government funds he cannot criticize the government publicly (this is true for prominent people in the US also).

    And not only himself–in a regime like Venezuela his family might be persecuted in some way if he were to criticize.

    The wonderful thing about music, especially classical music, is that it transcends virtually all political ideologies. For proof of this just look at the huge spectrum of political opinions expressed on Slippedisc.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      I love your last sentence! So true: some commentators in this blog seem nuts to me – my subjective opinion. And yet we are united by our passion for music.

    • John Borstlap says:


      And indeed Dudamel cannot say anything at all, it would therefore be better if he did now explain this so overtly. He is in a very difficult position and has to keep out of politics. He must feel very uncomfortable, to put it mildly.

  • Derek says:

    It is good to see some reasonable, realistic and understanding comments here.

  • Rob says:

    The interpretations do not match the quality of the music ?

  • patrick says:

    he should better shut up.

  • Rgiarola says:

    The jacket in this picture is an example, about the way he had been acting for a government for many years. He had not been just in silence, but really acting to support a side. The point that everybody commenting here is missing, is the fact that bolivarianism had been killing many people. Destroying a whole nation. It is not just another political wing as many ones are incorrectly affirming here.

    It is like saying that someone that had been directly on the side of Nazi Germany, could be OK after the war. Actually I don’t remember about any evidences so strong of Furtwangler or even Karajan so close to the Nazy party, as Dudamel had been with Top Ranking Bolivarianism.

    Some opinions here sounds like north hemisphere people, just worried about music, since the real problem will never get then. Music isn’t so important compared to this issue. Please, stop with assertions such “His family can suffer something”, “He is just a musician”. He is Spanish citizen now and a very wealth person to take out any relatives from Venezuela, if he had not yet. Although Gabriela Montero is just a musician too, she did not act in any way similar. Yes, for many people in Venezuela and Latin America, she is kind of hero due to the fact she had not been kissing any dictator hands, and denouncing to the world the atrocities committed in her country.

    However, If we will be strictly talking about music let’s be frankly. The hype is over, he is not the messiah of music, not a wunderkind anymore and It is clear now that he is stuck in LA, because any other serious institution hadn’t been inviting him for other position. Plus all staff like Borda are running away.

    Please, don’t reply to me saying things like “you’re full of hate”. If Dudamel had received some severe criticism since the beginning, he could perhaps mature his views in all aspects, but jet set of classical music marketing had been just spoiling him for too long. I can bring a list of names that suffer just because they say or did thing not so goofy, as Dudamel had been perpetuating since that Maazel competition that he gave up as soon as he found out he won’t be at the final, back in 2002.

    • Maria says:


    • Mark J Henriksen says:

      You’re full of jealousy.

      • Rgiarola says:

        Please, i cannot consider “argumentum ad hominem”. It is the lowest class of argument of dialetics in any language.

        Attack what I say, if you can, but don’t attack my persona.

        • Mark Henriksen says:

          If your neighbor got a promotion that he didn’t deserve at Wal Mart, would you have a similar rant as with the Dude? No? Because you probably are not jealous of manager at wal mart.

          • Rgiarola says:

            jealousy only makes sense if the victm can really impress the offender. In this case, I would be jealous about Carlo Maria Giulini, Kleiber, Abbado, Muti and even Andris Nelsons among other top-notch names that are still making difference in music.
            You can be sure that I don’t care about circus, reason why Dudamel isn’t something that I appreciate. Let me remind that I’m stricly talking about the artist, but not the person. I don’t know Dudamel besides his artist career. Perhaps he is a fine guy. You should distinguish this kind of things, when you are criticizing someone you don’t know

    • Hernan says:

      The tri colored jacket is the symbol of all the Venezuelan people, just like the red, white, and blue for Americans. Get your facts straight before you share your ignorance to the world.

  • Edgar says:

    DudeBashTime again, Norm?

    • Rgiarola says:

      As far as I know Norman had been defending the messiah for many years. I still have for example, his lecture of 2009 talking about the perfect move of LA philh. choosing Dudamel and the huge mistake NY Philh. was doing about Gilbert. The only time I’ve talked to Dudamel was in a buffet in the back of Festival hall also in feb/2009, after a concert with Philharmonia conducted by him. Norman if my memory doesn’t fail was with him.

      If for a while he is presenting other perspective, I don’t think anyone can blame him of been Dudamel bashing persona.

  • Juan Mora says:

    On El Sistema: ‘It is a symbol of our country — it’s corrupt and falling apart, and thousands of people are leaving.’

    There, fixed that for you Gustavo.

  • william osborne says:

    “El Sistema is only ‘alive because it’s supported by the state.'” Like most all orchestras in Europe. And yet if a Latin American government does anything so “socialist,” it must be eliminated by “Freedom Fighters.”