Most musicians try to avoid political trouble…

Most musicians try to avoid political trouble…


norman lebrecht

August 30, 2019

From the new Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Most musicians go through life trying to avoid trouble, especially of the political kind. Gabriela Montero is an exception. Venezuelan by birth and an exile from childhood, she made her name as a flamboyant soloist in 20th century piano concertos. As encores, she invented her own riffs on themes requested by the audience. Over time, these became full-length compositions.

Unable to ignore the Government-impelled disintegration of her home country….

Read on here.

And here.


  • Anon says:

    Such a nice contrast to Gustavo Dudamel, who spent years licking the boots of dictators until it was no longer expedient for him to do so. Montero is a musician of conviction, unlike the opportunistic conductor.

    • Tamino says:

      That’s a partisan unreflected comment from somebody safe in his armchair, who never had to fight for freedom or human rights putting his own life and possibly that of family members and dear colleagues on the line.

      Dudamel tried to safe the El Sistema system from within by appeasing the troubled powers in charge and collaborating with them. He thus possibly did have a much more positive effect on the life of many, than someone like Montero, in exile since her childhood, no personal ties or obligations to that country anymore, talking from a safe distance. What has she achieved for the musical youth of Venezuela? Nothing.

      • Enemigo Publico says:

        Rubbish. Montero has been helping young musicians who have been abandoned by El Sistema and Dudamel. Many Venezuelans see her as a heroine for her uncompromising political stance and if you follow her on social media you’ll see that they shower her with praise for her unswerving commitment to the country. They shower Dudamel with abuse as a collaborator. And what’s he doing to help all the musicians who’ve had to leave Venezuela because the government that he supported brought the country to its knees? What is the great propagandist for the Chavez revolution doing for all those El Sistema kids busking on street corners all over Latin America?

  • CGDA says:

    What a person! It seems that there are too much politics going on in that orchestra. She’s a first class player and she deserved staying.

  • Nice Try says:

    Why not, it’s easy outrage. She’s an unimportant pianist, it doesn’t really matter; at least with dudamel, people are watching what he does (or doesn’t) do.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      Considering what I have seen of him lately, it seems that Dudamel is cumulating merits to became MD of the Boston Pops, or something like this.

    • Anon says:

      What? She’s an honorary consul for Amnesty, she won the Beethoven Prize last year, she is constantly being interviewed by newspapers and magazines and TV and radio shows around the world. You may not be watching, but a lot of other people are.

  • esfir ross says:

    Exile at childhood? Must emigrated with parents for better life. Well, that time Venezuela was prosperous selling oil.

  • Alex Klein says:

    Not so fast on Dudamel bashing. I do agree that Gabriela Montero is a musician of conviction and with a specific and well-educated message about the political situation in Venezuela. She ought to be commended for her integrity and steadfastness. With Dudamel is a different story, more delicate, and it would be irresponsible for him to throw the entire El Sistema under the bus due to his individual political convictions or observations, whatever they may be.

    In most (all?) of LatinAmerica the funding for arts and culture comes from the governments. A direct confrontation between a leader in Dudamel’s position and a government may cause irreparable damage to funding, in this case affecting 600,000 participants and a 40-year golden history of success in a program which is arguably the best contribution of Venezuela to the world, ever. If funding for a US orchestra, to make up an example, would come massively from a car company, it would be similarly irresponsible for that orchestra’s chief conductor or most visible musician to go around the world saying that company makes crappy cars.

    Let’s not mix apples and oranges here. Gabriela has been out of Venezuela for a long time and does not depend on it, nor do her words directly impact a gigantic educational and social project – her political opinion, on the other hand, may, regardless of how long she’s been out. As such, she is free and able to pound on the table as loud as she pleases about this issue – and hopefully other artists would drop the hypocrisy and loudly decry anti-democracy actions as well (like shutting down a parliament or throwing racist comments against elected officials as I seem to read in the news from some countries out there…shame). As a latinamerican music education leader, Dudamel’s top priority is to safeguard the access of participants through the current funding system until a new system comes around. Does he occasionally have to dance with the devil in order to do this? You betcha. I don’t like it anymore that Dudamel does, but our kids need us, and for them, and for higher values, we endure. Kudos to Dudamel for at least trying to keep it together.

    • Enemigo Publico says:

      This is the argument Dudamel and his lackeys made for years. “I’m doing it for the children” he said, “I’m doing it for El Sistema.” Then after years of supporting the government he changed his tune and criticized the president. Did the government stop funding El Sistema at that point? No. It stopped funding the foreign tours (which had never brought any benefit to 99% of the kids in El Sistema). That was all.

      All you need to do is look at what actually happened, rather than Dudamel’s excuse for silence and inaction in the middle of a national crisis.

    • Agustín Santos says:

      Not so fast on Dudamel defending. Those of us who worked with Gustavo at El Sistema are completely aware that he supported Chávez and Maduro. While some very naive people were begging him to speak out about Venezuela, we were all thankful that he didn’t because we knew that if he had anything to say it would be in support of the regime. Unlike Maestro Abreu, Eduardo Méndez or other leaders at la Fundación, who were obviously holding their noses while taking money from the chavistas, Gustavo was all-in with the so-called revolution. Not to be too gossipy, but that was one of the “irreconcilable differences” with his first wife Eloísa Maturén.

  • Fliszt says:

    Her improvisation skills are admirable, although these days such a skill does seem somewhat of a parlor trick. Not a bad pianist, but overall rather bland and over-rated in my view.

    • V.Lind says:

      No kidding I listened to the selected clip on that review and it reminded me why I always try to avoid Ms. Montero’s concerts.

      • Err, what?? says:

        You “try to avoid” them? What, do you sometimes fail, and find yourself involuntarily sitting in Carnegie Hall listening to her playing her own piano concerto, perhaps, or maybe kidnapped by the Rheingau Festival where you find her playing the Mozart Double with Igor Levit, and asking yourself how on earth you got there and why you are chained to your seat and can’t leave? Avoiding a concert is not something that requires effort, like wearing a condom. Nobody is insisting you go. So why the caustic commentary about the absence of an experience? And of course the obvious question, if you do habitually succeed in avoiding the mysterious event horizon of her concert vortex, how do you know her well enough as an artist to hold views so passionate you feel they need to be published? You make an interesting psychological study, V Lind…

        • The View from America says:


        • M2N2K says:

          You do not. Your entire diatribe is based on possibly imprecise use of the word “try” in V.Lind’s comment (“make sure” might have been sufficient). Your accusation of someone else being excessively “passionate” is extremely ironic considering the tone and length of your rant, particularly when compared with the calm and brief comment by V.Lind.

  • Fan says:

    It’s a rave review of the CD. So why only three stars? Very strange.

  • Edgar Self says:

    What would Teresa Careno have done? Probably married Maduro and Chavez and added their progeny to her children by Eugene D’Albert and her various other husbands. But Sergio Tiempo would still have played duo-piano with Martha Argerich!