Igor Levit plays under police protection after murder threat

Igor Levit plays under police protection after murder threat


norman lebrecht

December 28, 2019

The German pianist Igor Levit has written in the Tagesspiegel am Sonntag that he received an antisemitic death threat last month.

The threat was located in a southern Germany city where he was due to play.

He played the concert anyway under police protection.

More here.


  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Very troubling news.

  • fflambeau says:

    To his credit, Levit is outspoken on social issues and anti-semitism. He’s a wonderful pianist.

  • Mohammad says:

    I wonder if it would be a muslim pianist, would he recieve police protection too?

  • Igor – one of the nicest guys in the business; a wonderful, big-hearted and open personality….as generous with his time as his formidable pianism. Still such matters are of no consequence to the racist, anti-semitic scum who crawl around the gutters of their fetid little worlds.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Awful story. The lowest strata of society rebel against globalisation, the EU, loss of identity, change, economic injustice, emancipation of minorities, and mobilize themselves thanks to modern communication networks. As a result, because it’s easy, ‘different people’ are chosen as scape goats.

    Such crazy phenomenae, which were thought to have been finally overcome, seem to be inevitable results of the development of the modern world:



    • Leopold says:

      Hi! I am of course agreeing with you here. I am also reading your very interesting and very important book currently. Highly recommended!

      I also read Mishra’s book and either I don’t understand it or it is not very well written or both. And I hate it when someone doesn’t give sources for quotes and statements. Mishra is just listing books at the end.

    • buxtehude says:

      Too true

  • Tamino says:

    This is worrisome if true.
    But sorry, you can’t just go public with verdict and judgement, without giving underlying information. Having seen Igor Levit in the media repeatedly voicing quite naive and undifferentiated polarizing opinions, I do not trust his judgement. I would like to read the Email myself.

    Levit in TV on AfD supporters (AfD is a German populist right wing/proto-fascist party):
    “… haben ihr Menschsein verwirkt.“
    ‚…have lost their right to human being/existence‘

    Now I play devil‘s advocate and speculate: He got a response by one of those he talked about above, in the spirit of ‚an eye for an eye‘. It read something like ‚and you also have lost your right to human existence‘. And that is interpreted as both a death threat and antisemitic.

    • Bruce says:

      The police would have had to read it in order to decide whether the threat should be taken seriously. They wouldn’t just assign officers to protect him based only on his opinion.

      • Tamino says:

        Not really. In an imminent situation, the police these days, particularly after Halle, will better be safe than sorry. Wouldn’t hurt to tell the public the wording of the perceived threat, so we can form our own opinion.
        Not giving any facts does not exactly boost confidence in the truth of the matter.

        • Olassus says:

          Indeed. Wouldn’t hurt either, one would think, for the FAZ to at least disclose the city. But there is much sensitivity.

        • Bruce says:

          Good points, but making the information public is not part of their job, and if they are continuing to investigate, then it could be counterproductive. Or it could just give other crazy people ideas for how to write a credible death threat.

          Of course, without seeing the actual message, members of the public are free to hint (or say outright) that it’s a hoax. And even if the message is published, those of us who wish to do so are free to decide that it is fake, or to parse the language used to prove that it’s actually harmless and Levit &/or the police overreacted.

    • SEATAC says:

      Hey Tamino,

      Just because you disagree with someone’s political opinion, does not give you the right to call for that person to shut up, to in effect self-censor. That’s exactly the goal of such death threats (yes, plural – Levit received multiple threats). It’s precisely this victim-blaming attitude of yours that has been the handmaiden of the worst crimes against humanity. We don’t need devil’s advocates these days. There are way too many actual devils walking around, and too many of them are in positions of power.

      • Tamino says:

        That‘s an absurd reply. I‘m only asking to read the original allegedly threatening email(s). Why are we not given the facts? And that Igor Levit is voicing polarizing immature comments is well known publicly.
        I do not even disagree with his political opinion, his sometimes childish polemics aside.
        Public accusations of large parts of the population of antisemitism are severe accusations. Sorry, it‘s just not enough to claim they happened. Such claims must be substantiated.

  • John Borstlap says:

    If Jews did not exist, they had to be invented. The absurdity of antisemitism is the result of thinking that differences between people are much more important than similarities, and that a social fabric is dependent upon religion, ethnicity, etc. which it is not.


    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Actually, I think you – perhaps unwittingly – just described the entire philosophy behind identity politics. The cause de jour of the Left.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Generalizations like ‘the left’ or ‘the right’ or ‘the conservatives’ or ‘the Jews’ or ‘the refugees’ or ‘the muslems’ or …. etc. etc. never lead to a clear view upon whatever.

  • Nick says:

    Troubled item, if true.

    Igor Levit is not the only artist/pianist of Jewish origin performing nowadays and, of course, far from being an innovative and/or independent/original musical thinker. There are many of the Jewish origin who play all over the world: Evgeny Kissin, Martha Argerich, Ingrid Fliter, Helene Grimaud, just to name a few. NONE of them get death threats!! Levit, allegedly, does.
    What does Levit do that others do not? Seems like he is an armchair politician and “social justice” fighter. And to any action there is always a reaction. This is what Levit gets.

    He talks much of “social justice” and “climate” nonsense. He misrepresents political views and entities. Not that Kissin does not have a strong political stand – he does. Kissin publicly boycotted BBC for its inherited anti-Semitism, but did not get any threats. Kissing is not a blabber about general politics. Kissin is a pianist, and a great one at that.

    Recognizing (hopefully) his musical limitations, Levit seems to have an urge to supplement his music making with radical left-wing political cliches and talking points.

    FYI: no other publication (outside of Levit’s friendly FAZ) mentioned anything that allegedly happened in “southern German city”. Neither the local papers nor Süddeutsche Zeitung, where it allegedly happened, did drop a word.

    Very strange, particularly knowing that Levit’s noticeable career started with FAZ article years ago.

    • V. Lind says:

      Talk to people in Australia about “climate” “nonsense”. Or the people who work in the Arctic.

      And what precisely is wrong with “social justice”? You would prefer social injustice — which even the most moronic must surely admit exists — to continue and proliferate?

      You must be coming to realise that the ivory tower you inhabit can’t be renovated as trading in ivory is now banned!

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        I think Nick was suggesting that Levit talks off the top of his head, mostly ideologically and sans relevant facts. SJWs (as they’re known the world over) have proven themselves to be international nuisances because most of their ideologies are framed as pure emotion, with scant – if any – attention to fact. (And I read widely on this subject.)

        • Jcnz says:

          I dunno Sue, Jesus was a “social justice warrior” and he seems pretty popular still. Congratulations on your “wide reading” by the way!

        • V. Lind says:

          I don’t doubt you read a lot. On the evidence of everything you post here, however, I would very — VERY — much challenge the “widely.”

    • Alviano says:

      You seem to suggest Levit deserved the death threat. No one deserves a death threat.

  • Leopold says:

    If this is true, this is truly horrible!

    I like most of the interpretations of Igor Levit very much and I heard him playing The People United by Rzewski in concert which was one of the best concerts I ever attended.

    He should of course be able to voice all his political (and other) opinions however right or wrong, intelligent or naiv, provocative or opportunistic they might be.

    Would be really interesting to know who made the threat and what motivated it. Even if it was just madness or stupidity.

  • Michel says:

    Kristalnacht all over again in Germany ! What a shame !

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Huh? These kind of ridiculous hysterical statements don’t help anyone. The German state really isn’t sponsoring and enabling systematic violence against Jews.

  • anon says:

    I wonder why the name of the city is not mentioned. Can anyone tell us?

  • Glenn D Hardy says:

    Well, at least we’re not getting the usual “Norman, hasn’t this topic been covered enough? Can we just put it to rest please?”