Russia’s new culture minister: I hate classical music

Russia’s new culture minister: I hate classical music


norman lebrecht

January 23, 2020

Some extraordinary confessions are coming out about Olga Lyubimova, the new minister of culture under Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

According to the BBC, she once said in a blog: ‘I simply can’t stand going to exhibitions, museums, opera.’

According to LiveJournal,  on which the BBC based its report, she said much worse:
– A friend called for a concert of classical music … And I realized that I just can’t force myself … I began to seriously think about this topic. I found out unexpectedly for myself that I’m not a damn cultured person.

– According to the advice to victims of a rapist: I lay on my back, spread my legs, breathe deeply and even try to enjoy it.





  • pageturner says:

    sounds perfect for the job in today’s Russia

  • esfir ross says:

    Olga Lubimova’s decendant of highly cultural family, granddaughter of great Russian actor Kachalov, her father translated Marcel Proust. Russian culture in good hands.

    • Bill says:

      From the looks of it, she probably didn’t have much interest in their work.

    • Dennis says:

      She descended rather far down from their heights then. She sounds like the kind of vapid person I’d expect an American President to appoint as “cultural minister” (if such a position actually existed). I actually do expect better of Putin and Russia in cultural realms.

  • Alessandro says:

    Well, Putin and his oligarch pal Roldugin love Classical Music, so the Arts will be fine in Russia.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    She’s perfect! Don’t change a thing, Olga! I was of course reminded of a famous and disturbing quote about culture, but learned that contrary to my own and popular belief, “When I hear the word ‘culture’ I read for my revolver” was a line from a play and not a quote by Hermann Goering. But the thought process seems parallel to this young woman’s. (I know. “Thought” isn’t quite the right word, is it). What she would reach for I have no idea, but that final line of hers generates disturbing options.

    • Algot says:

      The quote :When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver” has been wrongly attributed to Göring and Goebbels, when in fact it comes from Hanns Johst. German poet and playwright.

      • HugoPreuss says:

        The quote is not entirely wrong. While neither Göring nor Goebbels were the authors, Johst was a raving Nazi and a functionary of the regime.

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Just like in America, where nincompoops are hired – a real estate developer for president, a clueless billionaire for secretary of education, a surgeon for housing secretary, a fossil fuel mogul to run the environmental protection agency, etc.

    • Proud American says:

      What a moronic comment. The president and every cabinet member are all highly accomplished people in their field. We have a government “of the people”. Not of some elite, political class. If you look at the facts, the USA is doing quite well, and we don’t need professional politicians. Ben Carson is hardly a nincompoop.

      • Tamino says:

        I don’t think the facts support your belief, that the US has a government “of the people”. It is in fact ruled by a plutocratic moneyed elite. The rest is ceremonial smoke screens and a bit of democracy show here and there where it doesn’t hurt the 1%’s bottomline. ‘Doing well’ is a matter of the angle you look at things. The US was a remarkable success story in many aspects. But these days not much comes out of it that can help humanity toward a better future, to the contrary.

      • Joel Stein says:

        Ben Carson did state that Hitler wouldn’t have been successful if the people had been armed. The people were armed, just the Jews weren’t. He is an antagonistic and is frequently just filled with nonsense-the Chinese are in Syria, immigrants are taking all the public housing in Houston and raising the minimum wage raises unemployment. So you’re right-he isn’t stupid, but totally unqualified to hold public office.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          The statement “raising the minimum wage raises unemployment” is something that many Nobel prize winning economists believe (and it gets taught at many leading universities). It really isn’t a nonsense belief; there is a lively debate about it among the leading economists who study this.

  • Thomas Wördehoff says:

    Sick. So she obviously hates the heritage of her country. Does that predestine her for the job?

  • Calvin says:

    Obviously ill suited. Instead, she should be tRump’s head of the National Endowment for the Arts.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    In Australia we had ministers for Arts with no interest in the topic, and sometimes they do a reasonable job. It is alright not to be interested in arts, provided one has a passion for mathematics & sciences instead. Otherwise I would be worried about her soul.

    • Dennis says:

      How would a passion for math and science qualify one to be Minister of Culture?

      Sure, in the most broad sense possible “culture” could mean just about anything, but in this context it clearly has to do with art, not STEM subjects.

  • Anon says:

    Isn’t contrarianism great sport among Russians?

  • Rodelinda says:

    Probably someone’s girlfriend.

  • Jean says:

    Did I analyse it correctly that Gergiev has now run out of favour ?

  • David Boxwell says:

    This makes me think of Dorothy Parker’s definition of “horticulture.”

  • Rob says:

    Unfortunately, I think we can count on this sort of response increasingly as we age and younger people take the reins. It’s shocking and depressing.

  • anon says:

    Moscow has more opera performances per year than any other city in the world including Vienna, Berlin, London, Paris, and New York.

  • esfir ross says:

    Olga lubimova’s bluffing

  • BP says:

    Sounds like she should apply her advice for rape victims when attending the symphony.

  • Axl says:

    Only one question: WHY????!!!

  • Linda Veleckis Nussbaum says:

    Once upon a time…my successor as an orchestra manager/executive director laid it out for me….”your problem, sweetheart, is that you actually CARE about classical music”. Doom. Doom and more Doom.