Gergiev is fired by his agent

Gergiev is fired by his agent


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2022

A message from Markus Felsner in Munich seems to confirm expectations that the city will tear up Gergiev’s contract tomorrow:

Today I have informed Maestro Valery Gergiev that he is no longer a client of Felsner Artists.
In the light of the criminal war waged by the Russian regime against the democratic and independent nation of Ukraine, and against the European open society as a whole, it has become impossible for us, and clearly unwelcome, to defend the interests of Maestro Gergiev, one of the greatest conductors of all time, a visionary artist loved and admired by many of us, who will not, or cannot, publicly end his long-expressed support for a regime that has come to commit such crimes.

Valery Gergiev is for me, and will continue to be, the greatest conductor alive and an extraordinary human being with a profound sense of decency, whose relentless commitment has helped countless artists to build their international careers and has brought the beauty of music to millions of people around the world. The work of his life are the thousands of phenomenal musicians, dancers and other employees of the Mariinsky Theatre and their families, for whom he has always felt responsible, as family. Maestro Gergiev has merits for the arts unparalleled by virtually any living artist.

It would be utterly wrong to hold artists accountable simply because of their nationality. All art is political, but not all artists are politicians. However, artists also understand the clear difference between patriotism and active political support of one’s nation’s current government. My most sincere hope is that the State Academic Mariinsky Theatre and its director Valery Gergiev will soon enjoy the freedom to represent a nation in the world that is rightly proud, not only of its immense artistic heritage, the beauty of its language and its wonderfully talented people, but also of the adherence of its leaders to peace, the open society and the rule of law. When a government viciously attacks the order of peace on which our entire continent was re-built, a previously outspoken political supporter of that government, holding a government-supported office, cannot in my personal view, in a seemingly neutral way, appeal to ‘both sides‘ for peace, or remain altogether silent. Nor can those who serve him with love and devotion.

I am personally heartbroken. At the same time, I could not possibly continue our professional services for any of our artists, or look in the mirror, knowing that we might directly or indirectly benefit in any way whatsoever from a regime that wages war against us all. This is the saddest day of my professional life. My thoughts are with Valery Gergiev but, more so, with the millions of victims of the criminal war unfolding before our eyes. 


  • Michael says:

    A beautifully written balanced statement!

    • Bill says:

      I don’t recognize the chap he describes.

    • JB says:

      For me it seems quite awkward to heap such praise on Gergiev and fire him at the same time. How can an “extraordinary human being with a
      profound sense of decency” support the Russian war on Ukraine ? And apparently Felsner thinks or knows that Gergiev does support it because he fires him right away and doesn’t ask for a statemetn, unlike others.

    • Ohad says:

      What a phony statement, excuse me. What’s balanced about cancelling someone who’s suspectedly unable to condemn the Russian regime? Yes, Felsberg says it. Perhaps the balance between doing something he clearly doesn’t want to do, and the selfish fear of getting cancelled himself as an agent (i.e. losing reputation or other clients). Where were all these rightous people when Russia invaded Georgia? Crimea? Bunch of phonies.

  • JoshW says:

    Fantastic! Netrebko’s manager needs to do the same: Please convince her. Her publicist also needs to follow suit: – Jessica Lustig and Albert Imperato.

  • Cancel Putin says:

    Who will get cancelled next? We need to ramp up the purge, there are so many Putin sympathizers in the arts… maybe someone can write an algorithm to scan the social media accounts of “major artists” for any pro-Russian sentiment over the last 15 years?

    • Nick K says:

      When you are seen in public with Putin, sign statements supporting his actions, including the illegal annexation of the Crimea and the invasion in Georgia, you set yourself for this. Gergiev deserves it because he is a back door supporter of Putin. He should have stayed away but he didn’t.

    • MacroV says:

      Gergiev is not on the block for a couple social media posts.

      And what do you think would happen to any Russian artists who condemn Putin if they’re not safely ensconced in the West?

    • Megamiru says:

      Tugan Sokhiev should be next to be held cronies of Putin

    • V.Lind says:

      Are you utterly tone-deaf? Russia has invaded, without provocation, a sovereign state. Putin is hinting about the use of nuclear weapons.

      Have you no sense of history? These things can proliferate in the hands of tyrannical leadership that has some kind of messianic vision of how they see the world.

      Can you not feel the palpable fear in Poland and Lithuania, just for starters, who surround Kaliningrad? Are you not seeing the thousands upon thousands of refugees streaming out of Ukraine in fear? Have you not heard about the body count?

      I find the presentation of Ukraine as a centre of virtue faintly nauseating, and certainly rose-tinted, but they were not threatening to move against Russia.

      Nobody wants to see troops from other countries get into this, because it would escalate in moments. But sanctions of all sorts, including in the arts and sport, are a way of weakening the domestic support for Putin, and artists who want to be included on the side of peace will have the guts — like Kissin — to stand up and say so.

      This is a case where silence is far from golden. Gergiev could be very influential if he would disentangle himself — sincerely and vociferously, more than Netrebko has done — from this mess. But he appears to be calculating the odds, and so far he seems to be falling on the side of seeing a Russian “victory” here. He, too, has no sense of European history.

      This is not cancel culture. This is taking a position on an unwarranted INVASION.

      • Nick says:

        You are absolutely right. Lind. And specifically about Kissin, whose utter human decency cannot be questioned!! Kissin is undoubtedly one of the most decent people in this business!!

    • WP says:

      Those high profile artists who have publicly supported Putin after 2014 have to pay the consequences.
      Not to mention that many of those who work with him find him very disrespectful towards others….
      That’s just icing on the cake-)

    • John Borstlap says:

      I always liked Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps where an innocent maiden is sacrificed to the gods of spring, does that also count?

    • Marina says:

      they are imitating Stalin’s purges

    • Pierre says:

      The first name after Gergiev is MATSUEV and then BASHMET!

  • John Kelly says:

    “Greatest conductor alive?” Pull the other one. It’s got bells on.

  • The View from America says:


  • john humphreys says:

    Good. Will concentrate Gergiev’s mind on the relationship between art and moral responsibility. He is complicit in Putin’s adventurism (to put it kindly). Plenty of other, non toothpick waving conductors around. Effusive sacking though – sounds as if his agent is covering his own back.

  • Paul Johnson says:

    “Valery Gergiev is for me, and will continue to be, the greatest conductor alive and an extraordinary human being with a profound sense of decency”


    • Andy Lim says:

      At least Mr. Felsner shows on Carnaval’s day – today is Rosenmontag in Germany, he still have a sense of humour…

  • Against Russian Aggression says:


  • Frank says:

    That statement is a little dramatic, isn’t it? “Valery Gergiev is for me, and will continue to be, the greatest conductor alive and an extraordinary human being with a
    profound sense of decency.”
    If the latter were true, I would not drop him from your agency. But it isn’t true. Also, it’s decades ago he could lay claim to being a really great conductor.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The invasion of Ukraine is beyond appalling and I’m hoping many western countries can take its refugees. It’s present leader seems to be an incredible man who puts ‘artists’ to shame; those who support the “regime” in Moscow. Putin is a dangerous head case on the road to mutually-assured destruction. But I am gob-smacked by the easy slide into international cancel culture for any and all; it’s ‘easy’ because it’s become so pervasive.

    Savage, meaningful sanctions against Russia will be the only real option for the rest of the world. He doesn’t care about cancelled musicians.

    • Marina says:

      Cancel culture is so popular because nobody cares about culture anymore. People have become consumers of culture. We live in Dark Ages. Geula is coming. I am good – still have my vinyls

  • 5566hh says:

    Quite bizarre that he thinks Gergiev is the greatest conductor alive.

  • eli144 says:

    Did anyone ask Maestro Gergiev if he or his relatives will have to face danger if he provokes Putanisco’s wrath?

    Russia is ruled by a degenerate ala Donald Trump who unlike Trump is able to murder those who cross him. .

    • Cynical bystander while stupid humans repeat history says:

      No. The highly moraled mob, having earned their immeasurable moral authority by being born in a free western democracy they never did have to do shit to create or defend, this mob demands justice!!! Burn the witches!!!

      Entitled self-righteous people are almost the worst. Right after tyrants. They should just go and f*ck themselves, but they can’t, they are impotent for any actual courage.

    • Nick says:

      eli144, YOU are a real DEGENERATE, not Trump!!
      Mr. Trump was the one US president who did not start any wars at all!!!

  • Brian says:

    Gergiev has supported Putin for at least a decade , but Felsner has just suddenly discovered what a brutal dictator he is? I guess killing enemies and journalists was OK for Felsner. Invading Crimea was OK, but invading Ukraine is a bridge too far for Felsner. The entire music industry has winked at this relationship while it suited them, but now that the juice has been squeezed from that berry, it is time to throw it aside in the name of virtue. Give me a break.

    • J. Hamilton says:

      Felsner Artists, and whatever is left of it now, is a very small player without Valery Gergiev and from what I hear from artists, orchestra managers and other agents in the business, it is all run like a dull and extremely dry legal office by one man, a former business/commercial lawyer working from home with no real passion for his remaining artists or for the music that they perform. They say that it is just a door for him to gain entry into the circles that he seeks to be a part of and the artists are mere props for his own ego. Few understood why Gergiev would have ever accepted this less than two-year old agency agency to manage him in the first place.
      Mr. Felsner’s nauseating and melodramatic statement explaining his reason for removing Valery Gergiev from his roster stinks of hypocrisy, as others have pointed out in their comments.
      I think that people are smart enough to read between the lines and clearly see that perhaps Felsner Artists was actually the right one for Valery Gergiev from the start.

  • Conductress says:

    Felsner needs to end Gergiev’s contract and bring on Vanessa Benelli Mosell. Vanessa is on the rise as a great conductor.

  • Tiana says:

    Very beautifully written, I shed a tear.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I commend Herr Felsner for taking this stop. However, can he have it both ways when also describes Gergiev this way: “an extraordinary human being with a profound sense of decency”? Wouldn’t the profoundly decent thing for Gergiev to have done, would have been to denounce Putin’s drastic measures a long time ago?

  • MacroV says:

    Although it should have happened years ago, this is, one might say, Gergiev’s moment to decide whether he Furtwangler or Mengelberg – or Erich Klieber.

  • Mr Frank O'Mahony. says:

    So you’re allowed to tear up Gergiev’s contract because he’s got a different opinion to yours,Felsner. What kind of world are we living in, where this is allowed to happen. Maybe if you saw what’s really happening in the Ukraine, and stopped listening to American propaganda, you might see another side to what’s actually happening. But keep on playing the popularity game you clown. Who’s next on your hit list of people who disagree with your superior opinion.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Sure, blame the victim. Never mind that an entire nation of women, children and old people are having to leave to go to an extremely uncertain future, while many of their men stay behind or return to defend their homeland. Never mind that the orchestrator of this invasion has threatened the rest of the world with nuclear annihilation. Never mind that you can’t absorb for yourself, what’s there on your television in living color. Even Fox News has turned itself away from their ongoing, stupid narrative of how the election was stolen from Putin’s buddy Trump, and has now become a group of armchair strategists in their war ‘combat control center’ environment. Who would have thunk that! And never mind that you obviously aren’t aware that Gergiev has been a sycophant buddy for Putin for a long time – sitting in on board meetings and such (there are plenty of photos to prove it). Why let the reality of the situation get in the way of your own version of reality.

  • El Cid says:

    Ukraine is run by Nazis and Russophobes. Ukraine isa

  • RW2013 says:

    “Valery Gergiev is for me, and will continue to be, the greatest conductor alive”
    You have to get out more Mr.F!

  • Ticia Miller McCloud says:

    you’re political beliefs or your religious beliefs should have absolutely nothing to do with your employment.
    our industry has always been dog eat dog.
    it’s always been full of fake love and phony politeness.
    but nowadays that seems to take back seat to this cancel society .
    it’s blacklisting all over again.
    once I beat this cancer I may just reopen my late husband’s booking agency and take on everybody who has been canceled for any reason.
    I’m beyond sick of it.

  • John Soutter says:

    If Gergiev is ‘the greatest conductor alive [he isn’t] and an extraordinary human being [a well worn, weary cliché]’ but ‘will not, or cannot, publicly end his long-expressed support for a regime [Putin’s] that has come to commit such crises’ how can Felsner call Gergiev as a man ‘with a profound sense of decency’? Heuchlerei!

  • Wannaplayguitar says:

    State sponsored Arts will always be the craven puppets of the State whatever their ( private?) political leanings

  • IP says:

    The greatest among all living fascist conductors affected by Sydenham chorea.

  • Guglhupf says:

    Felsner only signed Gergiev recently, if I recall correctly in the summer of 2021. I can’t applaud him now for his hypocrisy.

  • Kitty Hayes says:

    Are we certain he was consulted before Russia went into Ukraine because you are convinced that artists are asked first before governments embark on foreign policy. You know what smacks of fascism? Requiring an artist who has nothing to do with world events to make a public statement denouncing his homeland. What is even more disturbing is that Germans are requiring signed statements from artists. What next? Interrogation and imprisonment? What if these people would like to see their families again? Shame on the weak lot of you and your silly agency. The arts need individuals with spine right now. Not weaklings who cannot protect their own artists from attacks from lynch mobs. This has no integrity. It is an ass-saving performance in front of an imaginary tribunal. The two countries interested in punishing Russian artists are both so guilty of heinous political acts in the past that it is actually comical to come out with this. This sort of impressionable management decision making has nearly ruined the concert arts over the last few decades. Recovering from Covid 19 should be first on the agenda of any concert agency right now because solving problems in Russia or the Ukraine is actually not within the scope of what you do for a living. I hope he finds bigger and better management, or at least representation with more courage.

    • Andy Lim says:

      Dear Kitty Hayes, not opposing your tirade on weak agencies like Felsner defending your beloved mr. Gergiev, but I think that “bigger and better management” than Putin for Gergiev´s career will be difficult if not impossible to be found. Valery did really quite well in his own career planning, one has to admit. But as obviously his artistic performances are not only fast declining but also even noticed by more and more people, maybe a discrete disappearing modus is advised, blame it to the more difficult situation of visa for Russians etc. instead of withdrawn invitations and retire in Crimea?

    • Mueller says:

      As Putins Ass cleaner he doesn’t need any management anymore.

  • Gustavo says:

    So Valery is actually a victim of the regime, like Anna.

    Oh, come on.

  • Violinist says:

    Beautifully written statement, why all the hatred and cynicism in the comments? It’s rare, but not impossible to be an incredibly gifted musician with terrible (to say the least) political views or ties. Mister Felsner only shares how he feels, for anyone not agreeing with him, that is fine too! I do think he knows Gergiev better than most of the people commenting and I can understand it’s painful for him. Nevertheless he is very clear this is the only way, like a lot of orchestras and organizations have decided now- with which I fully agree. People, please show some respect and peaceful thoughts to a statement like this.

  • NotToneDeaf says:

    Where is his American manager, Doug Sheldon, in all of this? Not a word – hoping it will blow over and he’ll remain unscathed. A more crooked (and unpleasant) agent there never was and this is typical of him.

  • Tom Phillips says:

    What is this obsequious nonsense: “greatest conductor alive and an extraordinary human being with a profound sense of decency,” not a word of which is true. He has never been a morally decent person and at most a fairly good (hardly inspiring) interpreter of Russian music and very little else. His hoped-for disappearance from the music world would be truly no loss – both artistically and even more morally.

  • Jànis says:

    Never ever has the world ridiculed artists like now. As if there haven’t been opportunities before, because there is always a war somewhere, but somehow this war is THE one. So sad that the Western hippocrates have fallen for the biggest lie ever and this statement is the pinnacle of it. By forgivness, understanding and love we make a better world, not demonizing people, because where does it end? Who will be the next villain?

  • Pierre says:

    “….A greatest conductor…with a profound sense of decency ” ?!?! Decency?!?! Mr. Felsner is a politically correct bureaucrat. Gergiev is not and never was the greatest conductor, nor is he a decent person. Decent people singed a letter against Putin’s war. There is no Gergiev’s signature there!!

  • Date: 1st March 2022.

    Good riddance! I’m very glad to see the global music community taking direct action against President (sic) Putin’s lackeys. Gergiev may be regarded as one of the world’s great conductors – not by myself, however. When placed alongside Sir Simon Rattle, Essa Pekka Salonen, Neemi Jarvi and Marin Alsop, to name only four, he is plainly outclassed.

    How any artist, irrespective of nationality, can fail to condemn Russia’s moronic leader and his criminal rampage is beyond me. If the EU, NATO and it’s allies have, this far, shown utter spinelessness, then it falls to the cultural community to shame them into pursuing a less cowardly stance towards Putin and his thugs.