Dutch retreat from Gergiev Festival

Dutch retreat from Gergiev Festival


norman lebrecht

July 27, 2020

The annual Valery Gergiev Festival in Rotterdam, a throwback to the conductor’s involvement with the city in the 1990s before he became a rubberstamp Putin puppet (pictured), has been defunded by the city council.

A petition has been put up to have it reinstated.

So far, only 25 have signed.



  • A.L. says:

    As well they should. It was Russia that brought down the Malaysian airliner, with a majority of Dutch citizens as passengers, while flying over eastern Ukraine. So, yes, defund.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      And plenty of Australians, including one family of 2 children and their grandfather. That’s a big loss for one family with no other children and their mother with no other father. The little girl was found amid the wreckage still strapped into her seat.

    • Harry Collier says:

      Presumably you would “defund” all American conductors and musicians in the light of the hundreds of thousands of people killed by Americans in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan? Don’t mix politics and music!

      • Tom Phillips says:

        Really did all those American conductors and musicians openly embrace those policies and actions as Gergiev has done with Putin, serving in effect as his defacto “Minister of Culture”?

  • Simon says:

    Excellent – one less chance to hear Valery conduct while jet lagged.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Will also give a little time to finally shave and attend to his other neglected hygenic functions.

  • Melisande says:

    Never too late not to be indifferent!

  • Le Křenek du jour says:

    A “rubberstamp Putin puppet” seems so harsh, Mr. Lebrecht.

    How about ‘Courtier’, ‘Favourite’, or, to grant Maestro Gergiev the benefit of doubt, ‘Sycophant’ ?

    But I like the Renaissance Italian ‘Cortigiano’ best.
    After all,
    “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata,
    Per qual prezzo vendeste il mio bene?
    A voi nulla per l’oro sconviene”

    • Novagerio says:

      Precisely. The masters of the Renaissance were all “puppets” of the Medicis, the Borgias and the (un)Holy Inquisition, as much as 600 years of western music were patronized by the Church and the (murderous) Feudalism.
      Let’s demolish art altogether then.

  • Edgar says:

    Sic transit gloria Gergievi….

  • Hadrian says:

    Now if we can only vote the Putin puppet out of the White House… Sigh.

  • Edward McGuire says:

    Thanks for flagging up the petition, now signed.

  • Peter van Laarhoven says:

    OMG here we go again, wrong, wrong and wrong.
    Wrong 1: the festival has not been defunded by the city of Rotterdam, there is a proposal to do so, but no decision has been taken
    Wrong 2: within 24 hours the petition has been signed by well over 1,000 people among which many prominent Dutch musicians
    Wrong 3: Gergiev a rubberstamp Putin puppet? O come on, don’t make me laugh!

  • Tom Phillips says:

    Anything centered on Gergiev is by definition a “Putin festival”.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Elegant constructs, Krenek, palatable suggestions of a skilled courtier and eminence grise. Judging from recent performance, which we are warned is no guarantee of future rectitude, I expected no less. Let us agree on cortigiano.

    “Sapristi”, Ludovico Settembrini would say, and add “Placet experire” which I hope my grammar school Latin has got close, yhen moodily continue, “It is necessary thart someone show some spirit.”

    Even better was Carl Gustav Jung’s inscription, above his Swiss lake hut’s Dutch door, through which he retired each year alone, doing his own cooking with pots he called by names he gave them: “Vocatus sed non vocatus, Deus eridivet.” Which is to say, “Summoned or not summoned, God will be there.” And so he shall, so he shall, thank Bog!

  • John Borstlap says:

    I hear from a reliable inside source that the city council wanted, and still wants, the festival to be removed from Rotterdam soil because a majority of council members don’t want it. A combination of populists and representatives of minorities say, for different reasons, that such events are meaningless. Both groups say: it has nothing to do with us; the populists because classical music is elitist and thus discriminatory, the minorities because it has nothing to do with THEIR culture because it is a ‘white man thing’, thus also discriminatory. The coronie is merely used as a good excuse for the outside world.

    This means that such strategies are a forecast of things to come in a more general way in the West, and their motivations have been building-up over a long time, long before the virus attacked the world.