Breaking: Gergiev dumps Vienna Philharmonic

Breaking: Gergiev dumps Vienna Philharmonic


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2022

The VPO has just announced: ‘Unfortunately, Maestro Valery Gergiev had to cancel his participation in tonight’s concert with us scheduled for Friday, February 18, 2022, at the Wiener Konzerthaus due to health reasons.’

Take that with a couple of pinches of salt.

1 Gergiev is never ill.
2 War clouds are gathering.

The VPO should be checking cancellation insuraince on their upcoming Carnegie Hall trip with the Putin puppet.

His replacement tonight in Vienna will be Franz Welser-Möst.


  • Peter says:

    War is coming! This is the 1000th time I read it this week. Where can I send you flowers, Mr. Lebrect?

  • Player says:

    I thought you were reporting two minutes ago that he had Covid?

    • Louise says:


    • Brettermeier says:

      “I thought you were reporting two minutes ago that he had Covid?”

      So what. If that’s what Gergiev says NOW. Coming up with lots of different explanations and throwing them around like candy is common Soviet practice.

      NL just reports it.

  • Matthias says:

    Didn’t you report that Gergiev caught Covid a week ago?

    Interesting that a replacement for the concert on Saturday in the Musikverein hasn’t been announced (yet). Maybe they are trying to figure out the program (which is slightly different without Matsuev) and the concert tour following it.

    Anyway, I would be quite happy with FWM.

  • JohnB says:

    If he tested positive, it means that he has to isolate himself for a certain time before he can be cleared.

    Since he is conducting another concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Musikverein in Vienna on Saturday (which has not been cancelled), I assume that he is not very seriously ill, but only has to comply with the quarantine or isolation regulations. In Austria and Italy you can clear yourself after 5 days, but presumably his COVID test is still positive and therefore he still has to isolate himself.

  • Piano Lover says:

    He is used to cancel for political reasons.
    We should get rid of him and send him back in Putin’s home!

  • Monsoon says:

    Maybe it’s BS, but he’s starting to look older than he really is — he doesn’t look like someone who is in good health (despite the fact that he probably receives the best health care money can buy).

    • Jonathan Sutherland says:

      Given Gergiev’s gourmand lifestyle, it would be no surprise if his cholesterol count is significantly higher than his appearances at rehearsals.
      Unless the Wiener Phil. is providing Krug and Imperial Beluga in the maestro’s dressing room, there is probably not sufficient inducement for yet another gig at the Musikverein – notwithstanding is outrageous fee.

  • Corno di Caccia says:

    An interesting situation. Has maestro Gergiev got the dreaded Covid, or not? I doubt that ‘War clouds are gathering’, to be honest. The hyped-up news in the UK is a wonder to behold. I find it laughable when I hear both UK and American politicians saying how wrong it is to invade another country when both countries have done so on a regular basis. Have they forgotten about the totally illegal assault and invasion on Iraq and its innocent people – despite mass protests – in the not too-distant past? Hypocrisy reigns, as ever.
    As for Valery’s replacement, Franz Welser Most is a safe and agreeable choice.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      “Peace in our time”, then? Well, that’s a relief!!

    • Brettermeier says:

      “I find it laughable when I hear both UK and American politicians saying how wrong it is to invade another country when both countries have done so on a regular basis.”

      And the totally not fake referendums to later join the USA. What do you mean by “There weren’t any referendums and Iraq isn’t part of the USA”?

      “to be honest.”

      Not the adjective I’d choose to describe your rant, but hey, you do you!

    • JEAN-DAVID COEN says:

      The fact that Americans and others are hypocritical is without doubt, but that does not justify a Russian invasion of the Ukraine -as the old expression goes-” two wrongs do not make a right” This is supposed to be a forum about classical music but as long as you have strayed into politics let us remind you let us remind you that the Soviet Union was created it’s via a terrible blunder by FDR at Yalta. Russia should never have been given Poland, Romania ,Hungary Czechoslovakia a and other countries simply as a reward for their participation in World War II They were sovereign countries and did not deserve to be held as prisoners of a repressive Soviet regime. Putin the exKGB chief wishes is to re- establish that hegemony. I don’t know whether gergiev is a puppet, but I damn well know that the majority of Eastern Europe should not be again taken hostage. American offenses in Iraq and Afghanistan/hypocrisy have nothing to do with it!

  • Rob Keeley says:

    Lucky VPO!

    • Benjamin Bittern says:

      Having Welser-Least is not lucky at all.

      • hehe says:

        Welser-Least: that’s a good one. I just recall the old LPO nickname “Frankly Worse than Most”

        • Tamino says:

          I don’t get the Welser-Möst bashing. He is one of the better ones, and most knowledgeable too.
          It’s the narcissistic crowd who wants to get their new voyeuristic kick from some positively psychotic “Dionysian” pseudo-guru on the podium, who usually bash the Welser-Mösts.

  • Gustavo says:

    It’s perfectly understandable that VPO doesn’t want to get infected nor hinder Gergiev’s recovery before going on tour.

  • Mock Mahler says:

    I have a ticket for Feb 25 at Carnegie Hall, and frankly I’d rather see Welser-Most conducting regardless of other issues. Now, if they could swap the pianist. . . .

  • John Kelly says:

    Great. Who is the replacement for NY? Hopefully someone good.

  • Peter bah Laarhoven says:

    Maestro may have tested positive a week ago but some of the comments here makes you wonder who the really sick people are. I for my part am very much looking forward to Maestro with Vienna Phil in Essen next Monday.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I’ve seen Gergiev on the podium just twice and I found both experiences very satisfying. I couldn’t care less about his politics (if any) because if I did care about such things I wouldn’t go to concert halls very much at all!!

  • Brian says:

    I wonder if Carnegie is looking at the growing war clouds around Ukraine and wondering if it’s such a good idea to have such a strong Putin ally bestriding their stage at this point in time. Carnegie likes to see itself as an artistic Switzerland – neutral in all respects – but even this combo might be too tricky to get behind.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Like it or not, there are Covid protocols in place. It’s better to remain safe than sorry, which permits the music to keep playing. As this situation has shown – as pretty all such situations have shown – there are conductors out there to step in. It may not be an ideal, but how bad of a trade-off is FWM for Gergiev? . . . More to the point, stop worrying about who’s waving the stick and just listen to the music.

  • Michael McGrath says:

    Welser-Möst is an upgrade for those concerts!

  • PROF says:

    Surely FWM is not going to lead the originally planned All-Rachmaninov programme … !

  • Nick Kalogeresis says:

    That he is- a Putin puppet. Thank you Mr. Lebrecht.

  • Benjamin Bittern says:

    He does get ill, but works anyway. He is human. If he didn’t buddy up with Putin, there’d be no funding for the arts, and he keeps thousands of people employed. Without him, there’d be no classical music in Russia. It doesn’t mean he agrees with Putin’s politics. But he knows where the butter is for everyone’s bread. He is also probably the greatest living maestro we have, the only true powerhouse. Something women will never achieve. My friend’s career was all but over, and Gergiev restored him completely with a very fine position, as he well deserved. A heel would not do that.

    • Mel Cadman says:

      I spent a very dull evening listening to his conducting Das Rheingold at the EIF some years ago – classically under-rehearsed and poorly presented – and what I’ve heard online and broadcast before and since hardly challenges that impression. FWM’s Mahler 7 at the EIF years before was phenomenal, however. No doubt Gergiev has contributed much to classical music’s fortunes in Russia but the implication that he’s the only one of international standing rather under-plays Maxim Emelyanichev’s achievements and a few other ‘bit players’ like Daniel Triifonov … !

    • John kelly says:

      “Without him there’d be no classical music in Russia”. Yeah. Sure.

  • Pierre says:

    He’s the most overrated musician ever, supporting Putin’s bombings of Syrian Schools and Hospitals and he looks like as if he’s fallen into a vat of pubic hair. An abominable unperson.

  • guest says:

    @Benjamin Bittern
    “If he didn’t buddy up with Putin, there’d be no funding for the arts, and he keeps thousands of people employed. Without him, there’d be no classical music in Russia.”
    Wrong. Authoritarian regimes have always used the arts for propaganda. There is always funding for the arts if they help sanitizing the regime’s image. If Gergiev hadn’t buddied up with Putin, another would have; the funding, and the bolstering of personal fame as nice side effect of generous funding, were there for grabs, provided you played the game. Gergiev grabbed it. Yes, he knows on which side his bread is buttered, and likes it thickly buttered.

  • Matthias says:

    Well, he conducted tonight’s concert just fine. I’m 99% sure that Friday’s cancelation was about waiting out the required time period after catching Covid.

    Curious detail though: The VPO’s strings uniformly wore masks today, which I’ve never seen them do before. Plus a chamber music concert featuring VPO soloists was postponed into April. I’m sure this wasn’t Gergiev’s fault, but it seems that the orchestra is now experiencing some difficulties with Covid. That’s not surprising given the ongoing Omicron wave in Austria.

  • Tom Phillips says:

    Maybe he’s too busy helping the troops marching into Ukraine.