Tragic loss: Top Russian conductor dies of Covid, aged 56

We hear from Moscow that Alexander Vedernikov died there last night of Covid. He was just 56 and had been on a ventilator for several days.

Vedernikov was chief conductor at Royal Danish Opera, music director at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg and honorary conductor at Nielsen’s town, Odense. He had worked with most of Europe’s leading orchestras, many of which are in shock at the news. He was due to conduct Beethoven’s Ninth in Copenhagen tonight.

He came from Moscow’s musical elite. His father was a leading bass at the Bolshoi and his mother professor of organ at the Conservatoire.


photo: IMG/Borggrave

Vladimir Putin issued a statement last night denying that Russia was experiencing a second Covid wave.

Tributes here.

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  • So sad! He was a great guy. You can actually find a recent video of him conducting Tchaikovsky 6th with NHK. Glorious performance.

  • A quick research in the Russian media does not confirm the Covid hypothesis, neither the contrary. Would it be possible to get the link or the source of the above mentioned news ?

      • ^ from the above link, via Google Translate:

        MOSCOW, October 30. / TASS /. The cause of death of the honored art worker of Russia, conductor Alexander Vedernikov was the coronavirus. Director General of the Bolshoi Theater of Russia Vladimir Urin told TASS on Friday.

        “The terrible news came today: the famous conductor Alexander Aleksandrovich Vedernikov died at the 57th year. It happened in the 52nd Moscow hospital, one hundred percent lung damage, and a coronavirus was diagnosed,” Urin said.

      • Also this, from the Bolshoi: Большой театр России / Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
        YetsitlSeerdphsmaymco atnsi ffa9t:oSuhd0mr6le AiMdae ·
        The Bolshoi Theater team and team with deep regret reports that October 30, 2020 At the 57th year of life, the main conductor of the Bolshoi Theater, the musical director of the Bolshoi Theater in 2001-09 Honored Art Worker of Russia Alexander Alexandrovich Vedernikov.
        The terrible, tragic news about the passing of Alexander Vedernikov is difficult for us to understand.
        It seems that this virus does not spare anyone. Alexander Alexandrovich is a young, full of strength and energy man. It is impossible to accept his death. Eight years of his, as we now know, he gave the Bolshoi Theatre a short life. He was not afraid to come to the Big at the age of thirty-seven and was not afraid to leave when he realized that his own creative route should take a different vector. The years of his leadership in the Bolshoi Theater were difficult and happy. Alexander Vedernikov knew the Bolshoi Theater since childhood. Started the XXI century. And Alexander Alexandrovich believed that the theater should change, that the world should open up, it is necessary to develop in this direction – to invite as many directors and singers as possible. He made many new productions myself. For the first time in Bolshoi appeared ′′ Fire Angel ′′ Prokofieva, ′′ Adrienna Lekurer ′′ Chilea, ′′ The Flying Dutchman ′′ Wagner in the first edition. He was dubbed by many important Russian operas, among which ′′ Boris Godunov “, ′′ Evgeny Onegin “, ′′ The story of the invisible city of Kitezh and the virgin of Fevronia “, ′′ War and Peace “. He ordered the theater – for the first time in the XXI century – a new one opera: ′′ Children of Rosenthal “. This opera by Leonid Decyatnikov became the most important milestone in the life of Bolshoi. All this is now and will be in all books on the history of the Bolshoi Theater. But, unfortunately, there will not be all that Alexander Alexandrovich could still be carried out on various stages of the world, there will be no new encounters with outstanding conductors and singers, new mastered scores, new orders for composers.
        How many things are left outside the official biography? His modesty, his funnyness, his love of nature, his interest in various art genres, even his inimitable speech. One of his favorite words is ′′ you know?”
        No… we don’t understand. And we don’t want to understand. With the leaving of Alexander Alexandrovich, it’s hard to accept. It’s too early…
        We send our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Alexander Alexandrovich Vedernikov.
        Vladimir Urin
        Tugan Sokhiev
        Makvala Kasrashvili
        Makhar Vaziev
        The team of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
        The date, time and place of farewell will be reported in addition.

  • ‘Strangely’ enough I can’t read in the Russian press the real cause of his death. If it indeed was Covid for sure the authorities will deny it.

    • The Bolshoi: Большой театр России / Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
      YetsitlSeerdphsmaymco atnsi ffa9t:oSuhd0mr6le AiMdae ·
      The Bolshoi Theater team and team with deep regret reports that October 30, 2020 At the 57th year of life, the main conductor of the Bolshoi Theater, the musical director of the Bolshoi Theater in 2001-09 Honored Art Worker of Russia Alexander Alexandrovich Vedernikov.
      The terrible, tragic news about the passing of Alexander Vedernikov is difficult for us to understand.
      It seems that this virus does not spare anyone. Alexander Alexandrovich is a young, full of strength and energy man. It is impossible to accept his death. Eight years of his, as we now know, he gave the Bolshoi Theatre a short life. He was not afraid to come to the Big at the age of thirty-seven and was not afraid to leave when he realized that his own creative route should take a different vector. The years of his leadership in the Bolshoi Theater were difficult and happy. Alexander Vedernikov knew the Bolshoi Theater since childhood. Started the XXI century. And Alexander Alexandrovich believed that the theater should change, that the world should open up, it is necessary to develop in this direction – to invite as many directors and singers as possible. He made many new productions myself. For the first time in Bolshoi appeared ′′ Fire Angel ′′ Prokofieva, ′′ Adrienna Lekurer ′′ Chilea, ′′ The Flying Dutchman ′′ Wagner in the first edition. He was dubbed by many important Russian operas, among which ′′ Boris Godunov “, ′′ Evgeny Onegin “, ′′ The story of the invisible city of Kitezh and the virgin of Fevronia “, ′′ War and Peace “. He ordered the theater – for the first time in the XXI century – a new one opera: ′′ Children of Rosenthal “. This opera by Leonid Decyatnikov became the most important milestone in the life of Bolshoi. All this is now and will be in all books on the history of the Bolshoi Theater. But, unfortunately, there will not be all that Alexander Alexandrovich could still be carried out on various stages of the world, there will be no new encounters with outstanding conductors and singers, new mastered scores, new orders for composers.
      How many things are left outside the official biography? His modesty, his funnyness, his love of nature, his interest in various art genres, even his inimitable speech. One of his favorite words is ′′ you know?”
      No… we don’t understand. And we don’t want to understand. With the leaving of Alexander Alexandrovich, it’s hard to accept. It’s too early…
      We send our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Alexander Alexandrovich Vedernikov.
      Vladimir Urin
      Tugan Sokhiev
      Makvala Kasrashvili
      Makhar Vaziev
      The team of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
      The date, time and place of farewell will be reported in addition.

  • I met Alexander several times, and knew his father who was a great bass at the Bolshoi, he recorded Boris with Fedoseyev as conductor. Alexander was a very nice man with a great intellect and amazing musical talent, this is tragic loss to Russia and to music in general.

  • This is such sad news – we really enjoyed his eight visits to Birmingham as a guest conductor over the last decade. He was a really interesting musician and a fascinating and deeply musical man, very kind and always curious.

  • I saw him conduct a thrilling Shostakovich 6 at Symphony Hall in Birmingham and he clearly had fun with the finale! I also saw him at St David’s Hall in Cardiff. A larger than life figure and very fine conductor. Sad news. R.I.P. Maestro.

  • My friend went to his doctor office, but there was too many in the waiting room, and secretary said to go to the hospital. So, my friend went as he was told. He had a pacemaker and it’s supposed to be adjusted, heart rates was too low and as a consequence he had a swollen legs. At the hospital they send him to another geriatric hospital where he was transferred two times ichanging rooms. Finally, in two weeks instead of discharge (-for which already he asked his lawyer to step in), it was for no reason to stay any longer), He was transferred to another hospital as they said for covid he didn’t have. And his health meanwhile was getting worse in the places where it must be improved and healed. I wrote this, because those days everybody said have a covidiotism instead of real medicine, even it’s not covid. Just for statistics though.

  • Don’t see how the Putin reference adds anything to the story.

    So many of these sad deaths are of people clearly already not in good health. The rest of us should take this as a reminder to exercise, eat moderately, and maintain our immune system. There’s plenty of good information out there on how to do this. Nothing provides 100% protection; but there’s much we can do to minimise viral impact should we be exposed to the virus.

    • Also, it is our duty to make sure we don’t contribute to the spread of the virus. Taking precautions not to catch it is not only about ourselves.

    • Right-O. I have been working non-stop to reduce my age but it stays stuck in the 60s. A personal failing that I accept.

      • Whatever your age you can mitigate some of the risk factors. Being overweight, for example, or deficient in Vitamin D (as most elders in Northern Hemisphere are). Many of us are fat, indolent and neglectful of nutrition. That’s on us. It makes us less resilient when viral illnesses come around – as they always will.

  • Very tragic. I had become quite fond of his work in recent years.

    Putin and Trump should get together. They both play the denial game very well.

  • Played Shostakovich’s 6th with Vedernikov in 2002. It was
    superb. He whipped the Finale into a frenzy and on the very
    last chord one of the straps on the crash cymbals broke.
    Despite the percussionist’s valiant attempt to contain it,
    the cymbal eventually effected a “leap-to-freedom” and
    hit the stage floor with a deafening clatter.

    Needless to say, many of us were frozen with shock. We
    looked back at the podium, relieved to see Vedernikov shaking with uncontrollable laughter.

    R.I.P. Maestro….

  • On October 27th Mr. Lebrecht posted a letter from V. Urin to V. Putin, where Urin is admitting to 124 Covid-19 cases in the Bolshoi and proudly stating that only 1 performance had been cancelled and “The shows are going on”. The rest of the letter is about asking for money. Clearly, the danger had been willfully and intentionally ignored and Vedernikov paid with his life, and, probably, there were others , less famous and not worth reporting about. Georgiev continued the Mariinsky tour in spite of multiple Covid-19 cases in the troupe. Such willful endangerment
    of human life should be condemned by the entire artistic community worldwide. instead, they are garnering praise.
    Facts: 1.There is no long -lasting immunity from this virus. The antibodies do not last for more than 3 months. This puts the concept of herd immunity to rest and makes production of the vaccine extremely challenging.
    if vaccine is produced, likely multiple boosters will be required.
    2.Cases of re-infection are being reported and they are more severe than the original infection, so even “wild ” virus does not confer immunity.
    3. In spite of excellent , strict prevention measures in Europe, the virus is rampant again and multiple lockdowns are reported daily.
    I have no solutions, but it would appear that distancing and minimizing exposure to other humans are the only measures that are protective.

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