Anti-Gergiev demo in San Francisco

Anti-Gergiev demo in San Francisco


norman lebrecht

October 24, 2018

In the midst of the Saudi furore, not everyone has forgotten Russian crimes – or the musicians who cover for Putin’s misdeeds.

In San Francisco, activists from Arts Against Aggression protested against two concerts by Valery Gergiev and the pianist Denis Matsuev.

Both are committed Putin apologists.


  • Robert Groen says:

    This does it for me NL. You can stick your blog. It’s not about music, it’s about politics. Musicians “covering” for Putin? Putin’s “crimes”? Disgusting.

    • Michael says:

      Deep breaths! NL is allowed to have his opinions, which many people would agree with. Nobody is forcing you to read it.

    • almaviva says:

      What part of Putin’s crimes don’t you understand? The murder of Litvinenko, Nemtsov, Markelov, Magnitsky and countless others? The invasion of Ukraine and the tens of thousands that perished as a result? The occupation of Crimea and South Ossetia? Do you want more?

  • Sally Denkers says:

    These comments against Maestro Gergiev and Denis Matsuev are hurtful and painful. They are musicians, not politicians. Politics shouldn’t even enter into it. These two stellar men dedicate their lives to share Russian culture, incredible music, joy and pleasure to people around the world. They do not deserve this negative publicity.

    • Jack says:

      Ditto for Wilhelm Furtwangler who two major orchestras (Chicago and NY Phil) declined to hire for his activities in the Third Reich. He was indeed a stupendous musician who made the same mistake.

    • MacroV says:

      Gergiev and Matsuev have repeatedly allied themselves politically to Putin and Russian aggression in Ukraine and Georgia. They brought politics into it; it’s a little rich now to say “politics shouldn’t even enter into it.”

      A lot of artists have been admired for taking political stands. Casals refused to return to Spain under Franco. Rostropovich was exiled because of his support for Solzhenitsyn, and revered for it. Gergiev and Matsuev could walk away from Russia and disassociate themselves from Putin tomorrow and they would prosper.

    • Ksenia S says:

      Then they should not have signed Putin’s letter which condoned war in Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, Homophobic statements..

  • Arts Against Aggression says:

    Bad Karma Maestro.

    Soviets were notoriously bad with new technologies, unless they stole them, like atomic and H-bombs. I do not even want to remind you about computers… On the other hand, they always succeed in charming western liberals with their art offensives.

    It looks like good art Karma no longer holds for Putler’s ambassadors like villain-looking Valery Gergiev and his horse-faced younger sidekick Denis Matsuev. We did not attend their embarrassing performance in SF opera. We were too busy protesting in front of this theater.

    Below is the most scanning review I’ve ever seen. No regrets for me. We did not miss anything. Next time, let’s call them “artists,” in quotes. They are no-longer artists. They sold their cheap souls to the devil a.k.a. Putin.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      There are many very reasons for criticising the Putin regime and it is perfectly reasonable to criticise the artists he effectively promotes. But the argument is not helped by playground name-calling.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Give it a rest.

  • opus30 says:

    This show plays in Kansas City on October 29; Matsuev has already canceled as of a few days ago.

  • Seraphim Voronov says:

    Where are the protest placards against US weapons being used to kill busloads of elementary school kids in Yemen?

    • Harry Levy says:

      Uh, I think the Saudis are operating these weapons.

    • Jack says:

      And that has what to do with the topic at hand?

    • MacroV says:

      We can all play the “whatabout” game. Gergiev brought the Maryinsky orchestra to Tskhinvali to celebrate the Russian annexation of South Ossetia (and more recently in Syria), and both he and Matsuev publicly endorsed the annexation of Crimea. Show me an American actor, musician or other figure of prominence who publicly defends these actions in Yemen (or Trump in general) and we can talk.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        But the repercussions from failing to support the policies of Putin are probably rather different for the musicians involved…

  • Zacharias says:

    I believe this is a prime example of the potential power and influence conductors and other such artists can have politically. Many governments and interest groups would surely seek to reap the benefits of being seen as “liberal and cosmopolitan”. While they are at it, to further their own agendas, why not utilize the social network, name, brand, and resources that global artists of such renown have to offer as well?

  • Quintus Beckmesser says:

    Some people forget that the Russian people’s standard of living has risen under Putin. Nor is he a match for the Soviet regime dictators. Perhaas we should condemn any British musician who stood by Thatcher during the Falkland wars.