Swiss ban Russian national orchestra

Swiss ban Russian national orchestra


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2022

Mikhail Pletnev and his orchestra have lost their Zurich date on March 21:

Russisches Nationalorchester
Mikhail Pletnev Leitung
Lucas Debargue Klavier
Sergej Rachmaninow Klavierkonzert Nr. 2 c-Moll op. 18
Pjotr I. Tschaikowsky Suite aus dem Ballett «Dornröschen» op. 66, arrangiert und zusammengestellt von Mikhail Pletnev

Other March dates in Geneva and Berne have also been scrapped.


  • Marcello says:

    In fact, 3 concerts in Zurich, Bern and Geneva have been cancelled by the Swiss organizers.

  • Bonetti Micaela says:


  • Peter says:

    And this changes what?

  • Cancel Russian says:

    How about a DNA test to prove they are not of Russian descent (in addition to a negative Covid test and proof of 4 mRNA injections) for all artists, before they are permitted to entertain the masses? We can’t have Putin’s propagandists making a living while there are many minority artists (including LGBTQ+) who don’t have careers in the United States. Supporting any Russian artist is basically equivalent to being an alt-right Trumpist white supremacist.

  • double standards says:

    More double standards. Were British and American orchestras cancelled in Switzerland when their countries started an illegal war in Iraq? Why are Iraqi lives less important to Switzerland than Ukrainian ones?

    Not to mention that banning Russian artists cuts even more ties, increases hostility and plays right into Putin’s hands – confirming his view that the West is hostile to Russia.

  • MacroV says:

    I’ve never known Pletnev or the RNO to be shills for Putin, certainly not like Gergiev, nor Vladimir Spivakov, who after getting canned by the RNO formed the National Philharmonic of Russia. Don’t seem to have heard much from him lately.

    I loved the RNO when I lived in Moscow. Many fine orchestras in town but they stood out to me as the best and most interesting. But this is not a good time to be a Russian-based performer in front of a western audience.

  • Against Russian Aggression says:

    Good. May more follow their example.

  • Anon says:

    Pletnev. Wasn’t he the one arrested in Thailand for pedophilia? As I recall his close connections to Putin & the Russian govt. made the charges go away & his international career resumed as usual. I never understood that. . . .

    • Bonetti Micaela says:

      Gentile Signor Lebrecht,

      How is it possible this kind of comments is still published when it comes to Monsieur Pletnëv?

      Your blog I thought not to be a tribunal.

      La ringrazio per la Sua attenzione.

    • Nick2 says:

      Anon should be utterly ashamed of these comments and condemned for making them. Mostly what he suggested is pure garbage, as I know well. As has been explained in this forum several times before it turned out that Pletnev never had a case to answer as the Thai courts were eventually to make perfectly clear. Putin had absolutely nothing to do with anything around that time – unless it was Putin who was the one that set Pletnev up. Certainly someone or some group did.

      As archimandrite Oleg Cherapanin, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Thailand, a body that is supposedly pro-Putin, said at that time, “Having lived in Thailand for a long time and being familiar with the work of the Thai justice system, I can say that granting bail to Mr. Pletnev, along with permission to leave the country, gives reason to believe that the alleged evidence is not so strong and unequivocal as represented to journalists.”

      Pletnev had many enemies in the musical establishment in Russia. He had obtained Gorbachev’s approval to establish a private sector orchestra in Russia, one that was independent of the state and state funding. In fact, most of the funding came from the USA. This upset Gosconcert because the RNO, its fees and consequently Gosconcert’s usual huge commissions were out of its control. He upset other Russian conductors because he was able to perform and record outside Russia while they were mostly condemned to perpetual touring within Russia. He pissed off most professional musicians because the ones he chose for the RNO were the best ones who were paid accordingly. He had many enemies within the country. It was also well-known there was a Russian mafia in Thailand.

      If Anon is going to make allegations of such a serious nature, he should only be permitted to do so on presentation of actual evidence. So either provide the evidence or retract your libellous comment, Anon.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      This is a disgraceful, slanderous and entirely untrue comment. Pletnev has never been charged anywhere with a sexual crime. We have left the comment up because others have refuted it, but we feel shame that such people visit this site. Steps will be taken to block them

      • Nick2 says:

        Thank you Norman

      • Sisko24 says:

        Mr. Lebrecht, thank for doing what you’ve done with this matter. I had not heard the disposition of Mr. Pletnev’s case in the Thai justice system and by providing the result along with the evidently wrong comment from another reader of yours, you’ve been able to clear the waters for me and probably many more people. Again, thanks.

    • Hilary says:

      “resumed as usual”
      Not quite. He’s not performed in the UK since .

  • Milena Zlatarova says:

    More cancelations: Christoph Eschenbach (12th March, Russian National Orchestra), Semyon Bychkov (28 and 29th June, Russian National Youth Symphonic Orchestra) , Yefim Bronfman (2nd March, solo recital) and Nikolaj Szeps- Znaider ( 4 & 5th March, RNYSO) have cancelled their upcoming performances in Moscow. Source: (

  • Nik_f says:


    • Bonetti Micaela says:

      As a Swiss-Italian born I will repeat it in three of our official languages:
      Schämt Euch.
      Honte sur vous.

      As a Swiss citizen, as a musician, I feel ashamed and apologise to Russian musicians involved in the tournée.

      You are welcome any time in my house.

  • RUkraine says:

    Reason? I thought Pletnev isn’t a Putin’s friend? Or am i wrong?

    • Andrey says:

      yes, he certainly isn’t. RNO is the most Western-looking and as-independent-as-it-can-feasibly-be Moscow orchestra. yet we all have to suffer for our leader’s decisions.

    • Ana Srbinovic says:

      Reason? He is russian, simple as that. Isn’t there something terribly wrong?

  • Andrey says:

    RNO is the most Western-looking and as-independent-as-it-can-feasibly-be Moscow orchestra. Pletnev might have his flaws but he was never close to the Kremlin.

    We all have to suffer for our leader’s decisions.

    • double standards says:

      And it’s completely wrong that you do when Brits, Americans, etc didn’t face the same consequences when their leaders started an equally illegal war.

      Not to mention the fact that British orchestras are still happy to tour countries committing human rights abuses, while they cancel Russians coming here.

  • Michael says:

    1) The editor’s deliberate misuse of language verges on the grotesque. To cancel concerts is not to “ban” artists, as the headline suggests.

    Smoking is “banned” in most public buildings. People who smoke in public buildings will be escorted off the premises. Repeat offenders may be banned from entering the building. Obfuscating the distinction between an individual or group being circumstantially uninvited and a general prohibition is a misleading, damaging tabloid trick unworthy of these artists or the seriousness of the horrific situation unfolding in Ukraine.

    2) Given the sanctions now (justly) imposed on Russia, including a virtual embargo on air travel between Russia and Europe and cutting off Russian banks from international currency exchanges, it is quite obviously logistically impossible for a Russian orchestra to travel to Europe to perform. The Swiss cancelling these concerts is a logical response to these pragmatic realities, not a statement of selective (and contentious) ethical principle.

    The lack of understanding and nuance in these pages (as elsewhere) for the sake of some cheap, self-righteous posturing is most disturbing. Supporting the Ukrainian people’s right to self-determination in the face of assault by a brutal Russian autocrat and his henchmen is not demonstrated through jingoism and petty score-settling. Let’s all please grow up!

  • Mark says:


  • Robert Manno says:

    This is not a war waged by Russia but by one megalomaniac authoritarian dictator who rules that country by fear. Is Pletnev a Putinista?