Why Valery Gergiev will be no great lossNews
I first heard of Valery Gergiev around 1990 when a friend called from Covent Garden to say he’d heard nothing like this conductor since Wilhelm Furtwängler. I soon saw what he meant – the fluttery gestures, the unaccountable atmosphere, the intensity of the playing.
I got to know Valery quite well over the next two decades. His made it his mission to save the Mariinsky Theatre by earning hard currency on western tours and exporting its homegrown stars to Vienna, London and the Met. Many of his performances in those years were unforgettable, but the signs of decay soon set in.
At the Rotterdam Philharmonic, his first overseas job, I saw players shouting at him for coming late to rehearsal, or missing it altogether. At the London Symphony Orchestra, his next post, he kept three phones on his stand in rehearsal and answered them when he felt like it, in complete disrespect to the music and musicians.
In Munich, he took the money and flew home by private jet. When Putin called, he dropped everything and flew to his flag.
Saddest of all, the Mariinsky talent bank dried up. The last major export was Anna Netrebko, and that was quarter of a century ago.
So if Gergiev vanishes from the world scene now as a result of his Putin complicity, the loss will not be greatly felt. Gergiev is 68 years old, out of energy and with little left to give. A year or two back in St Petersburg might help him regenerate. But his backing for the brutal Russian colonisation of Chechnya, Syria and Ukraine will live with him forever.
This morning he was fired by his western agency, Felsner Artists.
He will not be missed.