Vienna Philharmonic: We have nothing more to say on Gergiev

Vienna Philharmonic: We have nothing more to say on Gergiev

Comment Of The Day

norman lebrecht

February 24, 2022

Larry L Lash wrote to the orchestra, protesting at its tour with Putin’s conductor.

Here’s the reply:

‘The Vienna Philharmonic has had an artistic partnership with Maestro Gergiev for decades. That is absolutely in the foreground.

‘Culture must not become the plaything of political disputes. Therefore we will not comment on political issues related to our conductors or soloists. For us, music always has something that connects us and not separates us.

‘‘We condemn any kind of violence and war,’ says the director of the Vienna Philharmonic, Daniel Froschauer.

“There is nothing more to say on this subject.’


UPDATE: Will Carnegie Hall cancel Gergiev?


  • Matthias says:


    • Holger says:

      The lack of any sense of cultural sensitivity, from both a historical and current perspective, of the reply from the director of the Vienna Philharmonic, Daniel Froschauer, is staggering.
      Of any country in Europe, for Austria to, once again, be so “blind” to the toxic and disgusting historical links that their country’s cultural institutions have had with the political horrors of the past and pretend to be ignorant of the reality that Valery Gergiev is not merely a Russian conductor, but a very close cultural advisor and confidant of Vladimir Putin, is clearly an insult to every educated and civilised person.
      If Mr. Gergiev had never had any political ties, then I agree that he should not be judged harshly, but it is no secret that he has allegiances and close ties with Mr. Putin and his circle. It was Mr. Gergiev who created a political link, so I would ask Mr. Froschauer to justify how he tolerates a musician that has agreements with the VPO, publicly supporting the Putin regime.
      You would think that the Austrians would have learned by now, but they have played the same disgusting “no comment” “games” countless times, from the 1930’s well into the 1990’s, when the elected Nazi war criminal Kurt Waldheim as their President.
      Neutrality and “no comment” has no place in the current situation and Austrians should know better.

      • Matthias says:

        Just to be clear: This response was by a press officer, you can read the whole thing in the comments of the other topic. She quoted Froschauer. I’ve now also written them.

        As for my country, Austria, I won’t disagree. There is no real evidence that Waldheim was a war criminal, however. Still shouldn’t have been elected.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Your comments are not much better than any made by a political strong-arm. The fact that you invoke the Nazi Party when speaking about the Vienna Philharmonic blackens the good men and women who play in that orchestra today. Strangely enough, those criticizing the orchestra would be one and the same resentful that they don’t take more women or their own particular ethnic choices.

        Which is it to be? A desirable orchestra coveted by many a musician, or a continuing thorn in the side of decency?

        • Player says:


          Given your frequent paranoiac rants about the Bolsheviks, which everyone here will be familiar with, as well as your absolute refusal to condem any sympathisers of Putin, I have to ask:

          Are you Vlad’s ‘Saturday night in Soho’ alter ego?

    • Lothario Hunter says:

      Isn’t Austria the birthplace and cradle of Adolf Hitler?

      • MacroV says:

        No. Beethoven was Austrian, and Hitler was German. Didn’t you get the memo?

        • margaret koscielny says:

          I assume you are joking, but if you are not, then you are a complete nincompoop ignoramus. Hitler was, indeed, an Austrian. Beethoven was German.

          • Bill says:

            You’re new here, perhaps. It is frequently said that one of Austria’s greatest triumphs is convincing the world that Beethoven was Austrian and Hitler German.

        • Matt D says:

          Beethoven like Hitler was NOT German, being born in the sovereign Archbishopric Electorate of Cologne in 1770, and not in Germany, which as a formal political entity did not exist until forty-four years after Beethoven’s death.

          And Hitler was more Austrian than Mozart, who was born in the sovereign Archbishopric of Salzburg, which did not become part of Austria until twenty-four years after Mozart’s death.

          In fact they were all Germans, as in those days it was was common to consider “German” as an umbrella term over Prussians, Austrians, Bavarians, Saxons, and all the others, even after Austria was sent packing by the Prussians.

          • Fiery angel says:

            You forget a tiny detail: until 1806, there was a state called “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation” (since Maximilian I, i. e. roughly since about 1500). Given that the title of emperor had been elective pretty much throughout the entire existence of the empire, the empire never managed to develop into a centralised state (unlike neighbouring France, England – or even Spain, which got a single legal system only thanks to the Constitution of 1812), which made it rather a loose confederation rather than a real empire, but even so: it created a certain sense of common identity based on a common culture and (literary) language. Also, Mozart called himself German, not Salzburgian, Bavarian or Austrian.

  • John Kelly says:

    I suspect Messrs Gergiev and Matsuev are going to be VERY uncomfortable on Friday evening…….

  • Gustavo says:

    Between the lines I read that this may be the end of the partnership.

  • A.L. says:

    The VPO knows a thing or two or three about kowtowing to totalitarians. War or no war, the orchestra is in crisis as it is (a lost sound, style and overall musical culture), and Froschauer knows it. And we know it.

  • Monsoon says:

    “Culture must not become the plaything of political disputes.”

    That’s rich coming from the Vienna Philharmonic.

  • Tristan says:

    The Austrians do not care so much of attitude, just think of the leftist gauche caviar society of the Salzburg Festival for instance when they originally planned Russian state owned sponsors for their Summer Festival two years ago which was most embarrassing but COVID made it impossible in the end…they only think of money like most of their artists – the world is so rotten and just think of the RhineDaughters at the end of Rheingold ‘traulich und treu ist’s nur in der Tiefe:falsch und feig ist was dort oben sich freut’

  • Sergei says:

    Your move, Carnegie Hall!

  • Miko says:

    The VPO proudly carrying on its long tradition of turning a blind eye to fascism (always “in the best possible taste”)

  • Bill Ecker says:

    Larry is an old friend and I congratulate him for confronting the VP regarding Gergiev. As far as I’m concerned, touring with him would be akin to touring with Furtwaengler, or Oswald Kabasta during WWII.

    • WP says:

      Furtwängler fought with the Nazis for the whole 12 years, read about his denazifaction trial. He never made a video telling people to vote for Hitler, rather it was Goebbels who wrote “Furtwängler is trying to save every Jew in Germany”.

  • James Weiss says:

    Pathetic. This is not a political dispute. A sovereign, independent country has been invaded by another. There is no neutral here.

    • Gustavo says:

      That’s why they are performing Tchaikovsky’s “pathetic”.

    • SVM says:

      The same could be said for the former Yugoslavia in 1999, when NATO killed many civilians in Belgrade (including a deliberate attack on a civilian television station in the city centre) and elsewhere in their illegal bombing raids. But there were no boycotts of American/British artists back then or since. So, could we desist from the double standards, and desist from proposing boycotts of artists on account of their nationality? Froschauer put it very well.

    • Hound says:

      Yes indeed US invaded Iraq

  • Rob says:

    Do not allow them to play, send them back USA!

  • Alviano says:

    Cool it guys! Neither Austria nor the US is at war or under attack.

  • Alex says:

    don’t write here, flood their Facebook account! he should be banned from conducting anywhere apart from Russia and North Korea. there are enough good conductors, who do not support wars.

  • Hope says:

    Like it or not, the world has become too small to separate politics from anything and everything, and to label this invasion as mere “politics” trivializes it. Silence has been proven throughout history to equal complicity, and never was that better demonstrated in modern history than in WWII—with Austria at the center. Have they forgotten again?
    Were Gergiev not an acquaintance of Putin, there might be an argument made, but he is a close friend, ally and even mouthpiece of Putin. In the words of Leonardo da Vinci, “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”

  • Peter Borich says:

    The Russian Hitler’s Kapellmeister. At least the pandemic cancelled his scheduled Leningrad Symphony performance with the Chicago Symphony two years ago. Still makes me sick that the Putin Puppet headed the “World Orchestra For Peace”

    • Whatever says:

      I played in that World Orchestra for Peace in Chicago years ago, and I never understood the fuss over Gergiev. He showed up late, used a toothpick as a baton (why bother), communicated next to nothing. If you actually looked at him it was confusing so the trick was not to look. What’s the big mystique?

      • CM says:

        I agree, what’s the mystique? I had the opportunity (misfortune?) to go in to the MET orchestra (in the mid-1990’s) as a last-minute replacement for a run of “Flying Dutchman”; no rehearsal, first performance, Principal Wind chair, Gergiev conducting. Scariest 90+ minutes of my life! Conducting with a toothpick, shaking or wobbling his hands for “upbeats” in a new “tempo”…… O. M. G. I walked away thinking “The left side of the orchestra doesn’t know what the right side is doing. THIS is the rising genius everyone is talking about? O. M. F. G.” And I had three more performances to go…….

        • Pagano says:

          I was the cover for Dutchman in those performances. He came late to the piano rehearsal just off the plane dirty and smelly. For 2 hours he put his head down and randomly wiggled his fingers stopping only once to ask the pianist if a section was in 2 or 4. Tempi with orchestra were very erratic and confusing.

  • Gustavo says:

    “All my life I have grown up in war, in revolution, both fascist and
    communist. It taught me passionately to believe in peace. When we started the concert idea, I wanted to prove – which I prove now so brilliantly – we are about 40 nations in this orchestra together. We’re living in such harmony, playing so beautifully, we prove that we can live in peace. I wish politicians, left and right, could do the same.”

    Sir George Solti

  • wiener says:

    Genau, nichts weiteres zu sagen. Bravo Froschauer.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Falsch, mein guter Wiener Freund. Es gibt viele dingen zu sagen. Österreich ist nicht weit von der Ukraine entfernt, nein?

    • Adele says:

      Bin auch dieser Meinung wie Froschauer. Kunst muss Kunst bleiben und nicht Politik!!! Das hatten wir schon einmal und alle meinten, es darf sich nicht mehr wiederholen…. Diese Heuchler

  • Sam's Hot Car Lot says:

    Unless the VPO swiftly change tack, it’s difficult to see how they can avoid major damage to their brand.

    It’s not difficult to imagine a world in the near future in which the BPO, Cleveland, Chicago, the Concertgebouw, and the LSO are referred to as the world’s favorite orchestras, while the Wiener Philharmoniker is shunned.

  • Disappointed Austrian says:

    This comment of Froschauer is so hilarious and so embarassing!

    – VPO just placed many “Stolpersteine” in remembrance of Jewish orchestra member victims of WWII. Act earlier this time!
    – Schalke 04 (a big German football club) stopped their contract with GAZPROM today – they can do it.
    – UEFA will take the Champions League Final from Russia – they can do it as well.
    – VPO: it’s your turn! Show some backbone!!

    • V V says:

      As a musician of Austrian descent, I am thoroughly disgusted. Of course we all to young to have lived the NS time, but we had parents, and grandparents…. Didn’t they tell you anything, or do you just not care?

  • John Kelly says:

    I wonder whether Carnegie Hall will cancel the upcoming concerts by Gergiev and the Maryinsky Orchestra? They should – plenty of wonderful (and better) US orchestras could come in and fill the dates…………….

  • Smiling Larry says:

    Carnegie Hall should do what its savior Issac Stern, a man of considerable integrity, would be doing in this situation.

  • Paul Johnson says:

    The arrogance of this statement is breathtaking.

    I for one, hereby blacklist the orchestra and conductor.

    I hope many follow.

  • Peter says:

    As apparently the USA is freezing all transfers of funds to Russia, one is to hope the concert presenters cannot pay the part of the VPO’s fee that relates to the conductor.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    The V.P.O. should have known better than to get re-involved with Gergiev at this point. I know, I know – these things are booked years in advance. But this is truly a very bad look for them. I don’t see how this can work to anyone’s benefit.

  • Amos says:

    Perhaps in a year or fifty years, they will propose laying a few more stones to commemorate the bloodshed and their association with the regime’s conductor.

  • Russia has the right to protect itself against Ukrainian aggression. Putin should invade all of Europe and proceed all the way to Dublin, b/c the Irish plan to take over Moscow and put a Catholic king instead of Tsar Putin, in cahoots with the Poles, Italians and the Spanish. They plan to make Russian men sex slaves of Irish priests. I read that on the internet.

    • Adele says:

      Bravo, endlich ein Gegenkommentar!!! Ein Wunder, dass er gesandt wurde!
      Auch befasst sich anscheinend hier niemand, dass es seit 2014 zwischen Ukraine und Russland Unruhen gibt!!! Im Übrigen habe ich Bekannte in Kiew, und die gehen dort einkaufen und in ein Kaffeehaus wie üblich. Was sagt uns das aus???

  • Ira says:

    How short their memory is!

  • Frank F says:

    This from the most Nazi orchestra in Europe, who ate their oen

  • Freedom lover. says:

    Any views on compulsory jabbing in Austria. Fascist Central?

  • I expected a better response from one of the world’s premier orchestras with a proud tradition. Music is, arguably, the the principal international language and, whilst agreeing that it transcends politics, many composers would argue to the contrary. I’m sure many observers can name several individuals, amongst them Dimitri Shostakovich, Sir Arnold Back, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Karl Amadeus Hartman who have taken a moral stand against tyranny.

    Shame on the utterly spineless stance taken by the Vienna Philharmonic’s so-called management.

    • WP says:

      Tonight I attended a piano recital in a small auditorium. The artist wished to have a minute of silence for Ukraine. The series organizer told her, under no circumstances could she do this. “This is about music, only music here”. I have known this man for many years and was looking forward to recording in this hall on a truly wonderful instrument. But I ended my friendship and any kind of association with him tonight. Somewhere, you must draw a line…

  • pavel murscy says:

    Gergiev has to make it clear that he is not supporting the invasion of Ukraine.
    Otherwise he should not be aloud to conduct in western countries, where the money is coming from tax payers.
    München should do the same what Milano is already doing.
    Is he not officially saying that he is against the invasion, he should just conduct at home for Putin and all his other friends.

  • From Richard Stanbrook.

    I typed in Sir Arnold Bax, not “Back.” Perhaps my smartphone’s technical team have a poor grasp of 20th Century music!

  • Anne says:

    UPDATE: Please note that Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in place of Valery Gergiev. Pianist Denis Matsuev will also not perform as originally planned. The program remains unchanged.

  • Larry L. Lash says:

    CANCELLED! (Well, REPLACED, actually)

    From the Carnegie Hall website:

    “Please note that Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in place of Valery Gergiev. Pianist Denis Matsuev will also not perform as originally planned. The program remains unchanged.”

    The question now remains as to who cancelled and under what conditions …

    • V.Lind says:

      This is now the question. But a good decision, and a necessary one.

      But it implies Gerg and Matsu have not repudiated the invasion, so that would seem to be it for La Scala, and I suspect other western orchestras will follow suit. Let’s hope so. And let’s hope we see some coverage of all this beyond these precincts.

      Gelb’s wicket just got stickier than ever.

  • NYMike says:

    CH has just announced that YNS will replace VG for all three concerts – programming to remain the same. An unnamed pianist will replace Matsuev.

  • NYMike says:

    CH has just announced that YNS will replace VG for all three concerts with programming to remain the same. A pianist not yet named will replace DM.

    • John kelly says:

      An upgrade

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      As of 05:25 Friday morning (I NEVER SLEEP!), the Wiener Philharmoniker website has finally announced Yannik for the Carnegie Hall dates, but what’s-his-name is still on the schedule for Naples, Florida. Now … who do we know done there who can raise some good trouble? (How I miss John Lewis!)

  • M McGrath says:

    There’s a wonderful, well-documented book out, in German, by the Swiss author Fritz Truempi, about the collaboration – ‘for the sake of music’ – of the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics with nazis in Germany and Austria: “Politisierte Orchester” about the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics during the time of national socialism. The orchestra’s current position on Gergiev – decades of collaboration – is reminiscent of flawed decision-making during the 30s. Why does nobody remember? We crucify Elizabeth Schwarzkopf for singing during these years, we boycotted von Karajan in NY after WW2, yet Putin’s conductor gets a free ride after his boss invades a sovereign nation? WHY does nobody have the courage to do even these ‘little things?’

  • Alex says:

    This makes perfect sense given the Nazis cleared the VPO of all Jewish musicians and did not have a problem with that move.

  • IP says:

    I always thought that in performing arts one also needs an audience.

  • Nancy says:

    Ironic, Gergiev’s role with the World Orchestra for Peace. In the documentary, Solti’s Vision, Gergiev says “We musicians cannot solve any of these problems with rifles, or cannot wear the uniform. We are not military. We are not politicians. We can only make statement after statement after statement.” Where is his statement now?? Without a statement, he should absolutely be relieved of his positions outside of Russia.

  • Paul M. says:

    “Culture must not become the plaything of political disputes…”

    Lord have mercy, what an ignorant understanding of the history of music—especially the history of orchestral music—especially the history of the Vienna Philharmonic.

  • Conductress says:

    VPO needs to end its relationship with Gergiev and bring Vanessa Benelli Mosell as a guest conductor

  • Thomas M. says:

    People will stay away in droves!