Few miss Gergiev and Netrebko, but what about the rest?

Few miss Gergiev and Netrebko, but what about the rest?


norman lebrecht

March 06, 2022

Apart from some hand wringing by their agents and a few commercial associates, the absence of Valery Gergiev and Anna Netrebko is not causing great heartache among western musicians. Gergiev has been remote, reckless and casual in recent years with his obligations, while Netrebko is no more popular among her western stage partners than any other vaunted diva.

Both will leave a cavity at the box-office, but not a major hole.

The question is how other Russians are being treated in this crisis, and that is an area where every music organisation must treat with care.

An orchestra in Maryland cancelled the Russian violinist Vadim Repin,’out of respect to Repin’s apolitical stance and concerns for the safety of himself and his family.’ Apparently, threats had been received.

A recital series in Vancouver dropped an August concert by the young Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev because it could not in good conscience present a concert by any Russian artist at this moment in time unless they are prepared to speak out publicly against this war.’
Malofeev had previously posted: ‘The truth is that every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict.’

The 2022 Dublin International Piano Competition has told ten Russian contenders they are not welcome. ‘In unity with arts organisations across the world at this difficult time we regret to inform you that the DIPC will be unable to include competitors from Russia in the 2022 Competition…. we will be refunding your application fees.’

This is way out of line and directly in contrast to the Van Cliburn Competition which is specifically welcoming Russians.

These are dangerous and unpredictable waters. In the first place, it is ethically wrong for organisations to demand that performers issue a loyalty/disloyalty statement towards Putin. That is a Stalinist tactic, and it must stop.

Second, any boycott should be targeted strictly at those who benefit personally and financially from Putin’s regime, or who have shown outspoken support for his aggression in Ukraine. Apart from two or three elderly soloists with not much career left in the west, that would implicate the chief conductor of the Bolshoi, Tugan Sokhiev, and the Russian-based Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis whose Musica Aeterna ensemble is funded by the VTB Bank, which is now on the US and EU sanctions list.

Sokhiev today resigned from both hiss posts, in Moscow and in France.

But there we need to draw the line.

Russian musicians, Russian artists, must be welcome the world over. The world needs to see glimpses of Russia’s innate humanity, especially in these terrible times.


  • A.L. says:

    Certainly, the terror being inflicted on Ukraine by Putin should not be used as blanket condemnation of all Russians or all things Russian. But for those who have for years unquestionably benefitted from their close affinity with Putin and who refuse to denounce him in direct terms (and not circumspectly), their costly bill has now come due. Gergiev and Netrebko are Exhibit A.

  • Roman says:

    Great statement! Thanks, Norman!

    • Nicholas says:

      Great statement, indeed, especially acknowledging the potential totalitarian aspects of the fall out to this crises. There is more than one fine line to draw. Examples: can a Russian musician be against the war and NATO expansion at the same time; support the Ukrainian people, but oppose their entry into NATO in the future; or denounce the war, but favor extirpating the far-right elements of the Ukrainian military? Is any expressed thought coupled with the denunciation of the war allowed to a Russian musician without experiencing the drop of the economic and artistic guillotine?

  • soavemusica says:

    Too late, the Woke Train has left the station, again.

    The University of Milan cancelled Dostoevsky, but did backtrack. So, instead of burning the books, the entire institution must now be cancelled?

    Russian cats were cancelled by the “International Cat Federation”. Reality, not parody.

    Hear the purple-haired cry over their soy lattes, signalling virtue and social justice.

    • James Weiss says:

      This has nothing to do with “wokeness” or “cancel culture” unless one simply doesn’t understand what those terms mean.

    • guest says:

      The University of Milan did NOT cancel Dostoevsky, for Chrissake. Either you don’t understand Italian, or you are spreading misinformation on purpose. And if you care about cats more than about the killings in Ukraine, you are beyond help. It was silly to exclude those cats, to be sure, but instead of laughing and moving on, some people make a mountain out of a molehill. Are you so short of arguments that you have to resort to cats?

      • soavemusica says:

        To cancel the cancellation of Dostoevsky in Milan means that, by definition, it was cancelled.

        It may be cognitively as unpleasant to acknowledge as the cancellation of cats, but that was the news in English. (Unless page 1 of the Google search “milan cancel dostoevsky” was all fake news…)

        As for Christ, especially under the circumstances, praying would be better than uttering the name in vain. Not the popular choice.

      • Fiery angel says:


        ““Caro professore, il prorettore alla didattica ha comunicato la decisione presa con la rettrice (Giovanna Iannantuoni, ndr) di rimandare il percorso su Dostoevskij. Lo scopo è evitare qualsiasi forma di polemica, soprattutto interna, in questo momento di forte tensione».”

        Yes, “postponing” Dostoyevsky because he could generate “polemics” “in this moment of strong tension”. This IS a de facto cancellation, even if some people don’t – WANT TO – see it as such because it is shrouded in diplomatic expressions.

        The university retracted only after Paolo Nori made this public and minister Messa intervened.


        The prorector Casiraghi then said, “no, we wanted to restructure the course about Dostoyevsky and throw in some Ukrainian authors”.

        The first mail to the Nori didn’t say anything of sorts.

        And even if the “explanation” offered by prorector Casiraghi – in an interview, but not in the mail to Paolo Nori, is true – which I doubt, because the reasons given to Nori were different – it is hardly better. Dostoyevsky is essentially a St Petersburg author and his works as such are complex enough that you can build an entire career on them.

      • Micaela Bonetti says:

        Mr guest,
        Milano Bicocca University DID cancel the four classes course on Dostoïevsky Paolo Nori was asked to do (www.paolonori.it), to withdraw their decision after few days, asking this time Mr Nori to add to Dostoïevsky a lecture on any Ukrainian author of his choice.
        Mr Nori refused.
        He is going to make his course in another not yet known location.

      • guest says:

        To all the people who have replied to my comment. Soavemusica’s post implied that Dostoevsky was “cancelled” in retaliation, or because some unspecified woke politics (the last being perfectly daft, as James Weiss has already pointed out.) My point was that the _lecture_ on Dostoevsky (not to be confused with Dostoevsky himself, or his oeuvre) was cancelled/postponed because the University feared polemics/demonstrations unrelated to Dostoevsky work, not because they had anything against Dostoevsky. This was the official statement of the University. For some people it may be cognitively unpleasant to acknowledge the University’s statement, but this makes it not less true. The lecturer raised a stink on social media by attributing other motives to the University, and, in the current climate, found a lot of underemployed keyboard warriors only to willing to support him.

        Lastly, Dostoevsky’s oeuvre is public domain. If you have an interest in it, you can download it and read it for yourself, instead of expecting a lecturer to feed you bits and explain it to you. If you can’t understand it without help, better not waste your time with it. You can do the same with any Russian composer or musician, millions of digital copies available. Perhaps you should spend less time bickering on social media, and more busying yourself with Russian art, if you love it so much.

        As for cats, my point was not that it wasn’t in the news, but that that any sane person would have laughed and moved on. Well, @soavemusica loves to put words in people’s mouths, as he or she loves to dwell on those cats.

  • Rudy says:

    I hope that this does not lead to physical attacks on Russians in other countries, like the beatings Asians suffered thanks to Trump’s keep saying “the China virus”…

    • Tom Phillips says:

      No need to worry. Russians are far more physically strong and aggressive than Asian-Americans and up to now are far more likely to be perpetrators than victims of violent crime. Note, for one, the Russian Mafia.

    • PS says:

      Asians aren’t attacked because of Trump. They are attacked because they trust banks less and carry more cash, knowledge of which spread through rap lyrics.

  • Anon says:

    Absolutely. If we really believe in the ability of art to bring us together, to unite, to heal, to encourage understanding; then we should be bigger than to allow ourselves to use it as a tool of oppression, censorship and division.

  • Onkel Hausfrau says:

    I agree, we should avoid understanding Russian culture as a synonym for Putin’s politics. It’s very important that we keep a clear distinction. No concert organization should cancel Russian artists or force them to speak out against Putin just because they are Russian. Out of the wrong sentiments a Tchaikovsky-festival in Haarlem (Netherlands) got cancelled: https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/streep-door-haarlems-tsjaikovski-en-stravinsky-festival-dit-lijken-wel-sovjetpraktijken~bb0db6bd/

    What bothers me as well, is the fact that all the orchestra’s that worked with Gergiev over the last years now pretend they have clean hands. Don’t get me wrong, firing Gergiev or cutting the ties with hem was absolutely the right thing to do. But every single orchestra knew or could have known about Gergiev’s special relation with Putin and what was going on in Russia. Of course, the war with Ukraine has added a whole new dimension of violence to the Putin regime, but it’s not like nothing was going on before. Yet every big European and some of the American orchestra’s and concert organizations stood in line to work with Gergiev and to benefit from his conducting. Last year Gergiev even made it to the short list of the Concertgebouw Orchestra to succeed Daniele Gatti. Therefore, I suggest that all of these orchestra’s and concert organizations buy a big mirror as well. Firing Gergiev was absolutely the right thing to do, but it can’t be the whole story.

    • guest says:

      I agree. What’s worse is that European orchestras are subsidized with taxpayer money. Ultimately, a part of Gergiev’s fees was taxpayer money, as was his salary as chief conductor of various orchestras. For shame.

      • william osborne says:

        In the USA, by contrast, we fund the arts with the tax money the wealthy evade. Off shore accounts are especially helpful.

  • Bill says:

    It’s not stopping at living artists; I have already heard of groups in the US cancelling performances of any Russian music such as Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich because of pressure and threats.

  • music lover says:

    Absolutely spot on!!!!!Daniel Barenboim nailed it this morning at the benefit concert of the Staatskapelle Berlin:”Russian politics is not russian art and culture”…..

  • J. Ittner says:

    Thank you. What’s needed for presenters to make the right decisions is a clear eye, not hysterical reactivity. Vancouver’s cancellation of an August (!) concert by Malofeev – who’s too young to even have voted, has not been silent, and is part Ukrainian – can and should be canceled.

    • Fiery angel says:

      Interesting. Can you tell a bit more about Malofeef’s “Ukrainian connection” and what is the source of your information?

    • Sam says:

      Agreed, the Malofeev cancellation is absolute insanity. He’s what, 16 years old? Spoke out against the conflict and still removed because he’s from Russia?

  • Mathieu says:

    I often disagree with Mr Lebrecht, but this is absolutely spot on.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Agreed. There is a fundamental difference between the Russian government and Russians, including Russian musicians.

  • Friend of NACO says:

    À propos: this official statement

    “About my concerts this week in Ottawa with the NAC Orchestra and Ukraine-born conductor, Dalia Stasevska:


    (Gabriela Montero, March 2nd, 2022)

    As Vladimir Putin continues his barbaric invasion of neighbouring, sovereign Ukraine, and as self-avowedly Putin-supporting artists face inevitable and commensurate consequences outside Russia, it is vitally important to remember that Russian culture is not on trial. Indeed, to censure Russian culture today, much of which grew out of protest against Russian autocracy, is akin to censuring the Goethe or Heine in 1939.

    The music of Shostakovich, if anything, should remind us of the heroic work of Russian composers to oppose, often in buried musical or literary code on pain of death, the very tyranny from which the archetype of Vladimir Putin has emerged. His pathological refusal to untether himself from the autocratic, anachronistic, mid-20th century narrative of empire is a prime motivator of this attempt at violent course correction. I am convinced that, were Shostakovich composing today in reaction to Putin’s universally condemned aggression, he would call on his deepest resources of creative, sardonic commentary to condemn without equivocation the actions of a deranged and increasingly isolated thug.

    On a deeply personal note – and what can be more personal than art? – I have spent 14 years of my professional life trying, without compromise, to bring the world’s attention to Putin’s closest ally in the Western Hemisphere, the Venezuelan regime. Inspired by pianist-composer-commentators of the past, like Shostakovich, I have composed and improvised at every given opportunity to draw attention to the whole-scale destruction of my native Venezuela – its civil society, economy, and moral compass – under a dictatorship supported and administered not only by Cuba, but by Putin.

    When, in 2018, hope appeared on the horizon for Venezuela following protests at the usurpation of our National Assembly, Putin sent his bombers to Venezuela by way of warning. Furthermore, he provided the necessary cash lifeline to circumvent Maduro’s western sanctions, sanctions whose aims are no less justifiable than sanctions against the Putin regime. Vladimir Putin’s role in Maduro’s survival has not only enabled Chavismo to persist – 6 million Venezuelans now live in exile – but presents a fundamental security risk to the Western Hemisphere. This must, once and for all, be understood by those who – mystifyingly – support some brutal dictators on ideological grounds while condemning others, even when they form part of a single, malevolent axis. Maduro and Putin are one. Indeed, this week they discussed plans to further strengthen their alliance (REUTERS).

    I look forward to playing Shostakovich’s witty, sardonic, and boldly imaginative Piano Concerto No.1, a piece he wrote as a young man in his twenties, before the murderous censorship of the Stalin years began to bite. I do so in solidarity with a pianist-composer who fundamentally understood that the role of the artist is not to “shut up and play!” or to conceal the truth but, on the contrary, to reveal it, to comment on it and, only thereby, to lead us to our better selves.

    I dedicate my performances to the suffering people of Ukraine, never forgetting my own dispossessed compatriots.”

    • V.Lind says:

      She writes as well as her husband.

      There is a concert of hers being live-streamed on nac.ca at 2:00 p.m. EST. (I do not know if it will stay up afterward). Not the Shostakovich — that is later in the week.

      Also noted when looking this up that the NAC is premiering a new Philip Glass commission in tribute to the late Peter Jennings (an Ottawa native and lifelong supporter of the arts, music in particular) called Truth in Our Time. That concert also includes Shostakovich.

  • Simpson says:

    Thank you, Norman. You are 100% right. What Dublin did is so wrong. (1)This empty symbolic gesture contributes exactly nothing to the fight with the aggressor, this is an imitation of an action which carries no real weight. A meaningless illusion of a “feel good” for Dublin. (2) People have understood by now that collective guilt is a dangerous and morally wrong path. This is what Stalin had practiced, as Norman correctly pointed out. Congratulations, Dublin, on collectively punishing young people based on their national origin and deeds of others. P.S. Those young musicians Dublin kicked out are against the war as much as we all are. P.P.S The refund of application fees is especially heart warming. Any fee payment made via a Russian bank cannot be refunded because of the sanctions, the vast majority of them cannot receive funds from abroad now. So keep the change.

    • guest says:

      “(2) People have understood by now that collective guilt is a dangerous and morally wrong path. This is what Stalin had practiced”

      And this is what is practiced on SD by some, in case anyone wonders. Apparently the West is meant to feel guilty over the cancellation of a couple of Russian artists, while Russia is _not_ meant to feel guilty over the invasion of Ukraine accompanied by killing of thousands of people, despite the fact the population in Ukraine _is_ “collectively punished based on their national origin and deeds of others.”

  • True North says:

    It’s unfortunate that some artists are getting caught up in the inevitable backlash against all things Russian, but I prefer to concentrate my attention on the suffering of the Ukrainian people, which is immeasurably worse than having your concerts cancelled.

    • music lover says:

      But it certainly doesn´t help to cancel dead ones,like Tchaikovsky or Dostojewski…….I felt also sorry for the russian parylympic athletes….

      • guest says:

        Dostoevsky was not cancelled, for Chrissake. Inform yourself before commenting. The fact a Tchaikovsky concert was cancelled is unfortunate, but you can listen to Tchaikovsky on Youtube or Spotify until you get your fill, it’s not like Tchaikovsky’s music has disappeared forever from people’s lives with that concert. This melodrama has to stop. There are people dying now in Ukraine. _Real_ people die only once. Of Tchaikovsky’s music, or any other mainstream classical composer, there are millions of digital copies all over the world.

        • Fiery angel says:

          Dostoyevsky WAS cancelled, even if the cancellation was not called a cancellation. The mail to Paolo Nori said “postponed” “in order to avoid polemics in this moment of great tension”. If you “postpone” a course because Dostoyevsky can generate “polemics” and don’t even approach the subject of new dates, this is a de facto cancellation.

          Only later, after the affair had become public, did the university retract and say “it was all a misunderstanding”. Only later, in an interview, did the prorector offer an explanation about throwing in Ukrainian authors in a course about Dostoyevsky. Why wasn’t there a single word about this in the mail to Paolo Nori?

        • music lover says:

          They´ll die also when Tchaikovsky is not played.This melodrama has to stop.

        • guest says:

          @fiery angel and @music lover

          Copypasting here my comment posted somewhere else in this long comment section. There are apparently several posters who bemoaned the “cancellation” of Dostoevsky.

          music lover’s post implied that Dostoevsky was “cancelled” in retaliation. My point was that the _lecture_ on Dostoevsky (not to be confused with Dostoevsky himself, or his oeuvre) was cancelled/postponed because the University feared polemics/demonstrations unrelated to Dostoevsky work, not because they had anything against Dostoevsky. This was the official statement of the University. The lecturer raised a stink on social media by attributing other motives to the University, and, in the current climate, found a lot of underemployed keyboard warriors only to willing to support him.

          Lastly, Dostoevsky’s oeuvre is public domain. If people have an interest in it, they can download it and read it for themselves, instead of expecting a lecturer to feed them bits and explain it to them. If they can’t understand it without help, better not waste their time with it. They can do the same with any Russian composer or musician, millions of digital copies available. Perhaps Russian art lovers should spend less time bickering on social media, and more busying themselves with said art, if they love it so much.

        • Sam says:

          Similarly innocent people in Yemen, Palestine, Syria, etc are being killed by invasive forces as well. Should we cancel all American composers for the US’s military support of Saudi Arabia and Israel?

      • True North says:

        All the commenters who are pushing for Russian culture to be celebrated as though nothing whatever was wrong are terribly disrespectful and completely insensitive.

        On the other side, if Russians want to restore their collective honor, they know what they have to do.

    • kitty says:

      So back during World War II, you’d have said that it’s unfortunate that Japanese Americans are caught up in the “inevitable backlash”, but you preferred to concentrate your attention on victims of Nazism? Of course, suffering of the Ukrainian people is immeasurably worse, but it doesn’t make cancelling concerts of people whose only fault is their nationality right. The question here is if cancelling concerts do anything to stop Putin or help Ukrainian people, and I don’t see how it would. Now, not using Russian gas and oil would certainly make a difference, but it’s much easier to cancel concerts, right?

      • guest says:

        I am tired about all this hand wringing about cancelling concerts. I begin to feel tired about the entitlement exhibited by some Russian artists, and by the noise made on behalf of their thwarted ambitions by their online supporters. Russian artists got plenty of opportunities in the West, in peace time, some of those opportunities financed by the Russian regime, more shame to the Western institutions for taking the money, but this is a different topic. Now there’s war. Get it. There’s war. On an aside note, has it ever crossed your mind there may be Western artists working in Russia, who were forced to leave Russia? I know of at least six cases. Has it ever crossed your mind there are more in there in mild financial trouble, what with some banks suppressing payment with Western currency, and the ruble plummeted? Has it crossed your mind many of them are minors training with one of the two flagship state ballet schools?

        I am also tired by woke. The arts community is a tiny percentage of the population, Russian artists are a tiny minority of the arts community. Worrying incessantly about the well being of a tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny minority while playing down the much greater evil under our noses is woke.

        I am tired of posters paying lip service to REAL tragedies. “Yeah, the suffering in the Ukraine, BUT …” followed by twenty lines in which the poster whines about the terrible misfortunes of specified or unspecified Russian artists who have to renounce a well paid job in the West, complete with unhinged hyperbole about the Cultural Apocalypse about to descend upon the West because a few Putin supporters, and even a few Russian artists, caught in the inherent dirtiness of war, were sent back home.

        As to Russian gas and oil, fear not, it will come.

  • Vlad says:

    It is very UNFAIR that the music business is using double standards with the Russian artists and with the artists which are close to the Kremlin.
    Tugan Sokhiev, Teodor Currentzis, Yusif Eyvazov, Ildar Abradzakov, Aida Garifullina, Ekaterina Semenchuk were and are supported by the Russian politics and oligarchies. All of them are still working and invited on the european stages. Did they ever send statements on this matter? Did they ever take distance to Putin?
    Yusif Eyvazov supported the war against the armenian minorities in Azerbaijan and he always benefited from his wife’s connections to the Kremlin. Anna Netrebko is out from La Scala but he is allowed to sing all the performances of Adriana Lecouvreur.

  • Alviano says:

    After all American musicians were not “cancelled” the last 42 times the US invaded something.

  • just saying says:

    Just here for the comments *munches popcorn*

  • New Yorker says:

    agreed. Thank you Norman.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Lots of good points.

    Alex Ross has also thoughtfully argued along similar lines in the New Yorker.

  • Bloom says:

    I guess it is quite dangerous for a Western artist to declare his sympathy for his former Russian colleagues Gergiev and Netrebko these days…who did it? Christian Thielemann only. Everyone is keen on running for cover and saying the right thing. It is a matter of survival, after all. They have bills to pay and kids to send to college. Who thinks of friendship in times of war?

    • guest says:

      Thielemann was motivated by self-interest, not by sympathy.
      So now Western artists live in danger too? I thought only Russians. Take care that bubble of yours doesn’t burst when you add Chinese artists to the group of artists persecuted solely because of their nationality.
      Have you ever considered that the lack of sympathetic messages may be due to the fact Gergiev and Netrebko might not have true friends?

    • MuddyBoots says:

      On the contrary, many of their statements seemed targeted precisely at refuting Netrebko’s non-stand stand. Igor Levit all but addressed it to Netrebko by name.

      • Kitty says:

        It’s very easy to demand someone “take a stand against Putin” when your relatives are here in the US. Have you considered that Netrebko’s extended family will be in danger if she were to publicly denounced Putin? Easy to be an armchair critic. Let’s send your parents to Moscow and then see how brave you’ll be in denouncing Putin. Incidentally, Netrebko did say she was against the war which alone could send someone to jail in Russia these days.

        • guest says:

          Netrebko has double citizenship. Stop worry about her and her family, who lives in Austria with her. That statement of hers about the war – I have never read a more sullen one. The statement was nothing but a calculation on future employability, and it misfired. All this AN storm in a teacup could have been avoided, had opera houses demonstrated a minimum of quality standards and dropped her quietly years ago. She was long past vocal expiration date, and more vulgar than ever in every other respect. This one is indeed on the opera houses, more shame to them.

  • Years back I spoke to Vadim Repin personally about politics and Putin. Though he doesn’t take as public a stand of support for Putin, he has been privately very supportive of Putin. They do have a relationship, and I am sure this has enabled him to start his festival in Russia, etc. Despite Mr. Repin’s non-Russian passports, there may be more to his cancellations.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    After the recent postings here what hypocritical cant.

  • James Weiss says:

    Norman is absolutely correct here. This must be looked at on a case by case basis. You can’t thrown away the baby with the bathwater. Gergiev and Netrebko had to go – there’s no question about that. But banning all things Russian is overkill. Some nuance is needed here.

  • HAMILTON says:

    Quite right, Norman.

  • pyotr says:

    Dear Norman, what do you mean by saying “ The Rest”?
    Managers ? Managers who had so far never ever any kind of problem working with Gergiev, making loads of money, celebrating him even after he applaused the annexion of Crimea or the law against “publishing” homosexuality?
    To be a born russian artist means these days months in advance being fired and banned from western stages. The same managers I mention above are now asking in general every russian artist to show on which side he or she is standing. Let’s call it Moral-Compass! Should not all these Managers be judged by the same Moral-Compass, especially those ones who celebrated even when Ukraine was already under attack Currentzis’ 50th birthday in St. Petersburg? A friend of mine who was attending this party told me that even Michael Naske, who introduced himself as the chief manager of the Concerthouse in Vienna had not at all a problem to celebrate and party with his cashcow. He was by no means the only manager at this party!

  • Musician says:

    So what happens with someone like Teodor Currentzis? Is his Music Aeterna orchestra to now blacklisted until further notice? And what about his German radio orchestra? Do they fire him because he is supported by the Russian government?

  • Alexander Walker says:

    I understand that my former classmate Tugan Sokhiev has resigned from the Bolshoi Theatre.

  • Clem says:

    Emotionally, I fully agree. But this is not how a boycott works. Are employees of Aeroflot guilty of Putin’s crimes? Are the workers of all the industrial plants run by Western companies which are shutting down? Are the Russian citizens who see the value of their savings dropping? They aren’t. Yet the boycott targets them.

    This is a site for art lovers, and art lovers seem to believe all too often that art lovers and artists have some special status. They don’t, not in cases like this. If you are serious about a boycott of Russia, you can’t but hit everything and everyone.

    Saying that “any boycott should be targeted strictly at those who benefit personally and financially from Putin’s regime” sounds great, but would reduce said boycott to almost nothing. You can take away all their money, and Russia’s economy and Putin’s power would still be more than strong enough to compensate them. All their money was stolen in the first place anyway.

    So no. A boycott has to be as all-encompassing as possible, to make absolutely clear to the Russian people that this is much, much more than the “limited military operation against neonazis” that the regime is selling them, and that they either have to stand up against the regime, or become an isolated nation.

    Is their anyone, really, anyone who doesn’t see yet how far this goes? And you complain about canclede concerts?

  • UScitizen says:

    A few points which have been ignored but which are vital facts:
    1. Gergiev is devoted to Mariinsky which his main life achievement from before Putin was in power. He has made his life choice to remain resident in Russia primarily for this reason.
    2. Gergiev has a large family living in St Petersburg and his home city.
    3. If Gergiev makes a strong anti-Putin statement, he commits high treason and puts his life and his families life in jeopardy
    4. Lebrechts comments about this conductor seem personally motivated for years

    • guest says:

      5. No one really expected Gergiev to make an anti-Putin statement. Gergiev took it on the chin, deservedly so, because his political views were well known. No one would have believed an anti-Putin statement from him. Well, now he can spend time with his family.

      6. First and foremost, Gergiev is devoted to himself.

  • henricolbert says:

    eye roll. didn’t we save German artists from Germany? so utterly ridiculous.

  • guest says:

    I agree Russian artists shouldn’t be boycotted because their nationality. But is this a widespread phenomenon? It might be actually a media phenomenon. If an alien race would try to learn something about us from the stuff that gets reported in the media, they would get the wrong idea. The media nowadays reports only about aberrant behavior, war, and various other crimes. For all out sins, the majority of the population isn’t criminal.

    I don’t wonder the media publishes only cases of Russian artists being “cancelled” (what an idiotic word) because of their nationality. Clickbait and misinformation are rampant in the media. I am not saying a few of the cases may not be true, but are _all_ true? Moreover, there are perhaps a dozen or so of mediatized cases, what about the rest? Are these _all_ Russian artists currently in the West?

    Lastly, there is a war going on. Some artists may want to return home, in which case their contracts are probably terminated by mutual agreement. In case of performances scheduled in a few weeks from now, the organizer may worry if the artist in question will be still able to travel in few weeks from Russia to the West. Just because air travel is still allowed today, it doesn’t follow it will be so tomorrow. I wouldn’t blame those organization for terminating the contract, perhaps with a small compensation, and look for replacement now, in order to avoid last min replacement hassle. But I bet such cases, which have nothing to do with the nationality of the artist in question, not even with his political views, just with his country of residence, are _not_ reported in the media, because there’s nothing in them for the excitable crowd to mill over.

    And I beg to disagree with Norman, but even sending all Russian artists home won’t leave a “major hole.” Not in an “industry” so overpopulated as classical music. To the overexcited keyboard freedom crusaders, before jumping with hate speech on me, read the three paragraphs above. I do _not_ advocate sending all Russians artists home. I am just doing basic math, which you could too, instead of reasoning with your guts.

  • M McAlpine says:

    O course innocent Russian artists will get caught up in this, just like innocent German and Japanese were caught up in the last war. Innocent Russian athletes are being banned. It is unavoidable due to their dictator’s recklessness. But at least we are not treating these people the same as he is.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Sometimes Russians who denounce Putin have an unfortunate habit of becoming suddenly “ill” and dying in European or British hospitals of untreatable radiation poisoning and other improbable maladies. So it calls for a certain amount of courage, and not all people have that courage. Ditto for Saudi Arabia and a few other spots.

    On an utterly different level of concern, but with some parallels, today’s (Sunday’s) NY Times has an article about a huge retirement development in Florida where people are demanded to “take a stand” and support Trump, be anti-vaxers and so on. The widow of a former work colleague is quoted and is one of the few openly pro-Biden Democrats living there (Judi never could prevent herself from speaking her mind). Yet I could imagine she has concern and maybe even a justified amount of fear even in that tempest in a teapot, when you take a stand and it is not the shared consensus. So you edit yourself. Multiply that by a few thousand in Russia if the subject is Putin.

    • Democrat says:

      If you are referring to The Villages, they do have lots of democrats there who are active. My sister is one of them. Don’t forget, that lots of liberal democrats move there from cities like Chicago and New York. The Democrat clubs are just as active as the republicans although smaller in size. The Villages is a wealthy place where people go driving around on their golf carts. Nobody is forced to do anything like stand up and take a stand. Yes, the family that owns The Villages is arch conservative and yuck, Fox News is broadcast from tvs in the town squares. But people who live there have money and fisticuffs would be considered unacceptable and represent everthing people move to the Villages for—weather, golf, shopping, town square activities, pickle ball. It truly is a Disneyland for adults, as long as you don’t mind being reported to management for having a flamingo in your front yard. Yes, that is really what riles people up, along with driving your golf cart too fast and parking your golf cart in the wrong space.

  • Welcoming Russian artists “the world over” was the previous state of affairs and it did nothing to prevent this new conflict.

    Maybe it’s not a significant factor.

    • MuddyBoots says:

      Excellent point! Cultural exchange is useless in times of war. That time is past once one country sends its military to invade another sovereign nation.

  • lavy says:

    this hypocrecy and brutal, russian artist should be welcome every where

  • Harpist says:

    Well said!

  • Alexander Graham Cracker says:

    We flatter ourselves if we think that we have evolved past the witch-burning stage.

  • PS says:

    Russian opera singer and Putin – Met cancels artist, attacks free speech


  • Commonsense says:

    How dare all of you condemn Netrebko. Do you know nothing of what it is like to live in an authoritarian state? She and other Russian artists face significant danger if they are to speak out against Putin. Remember, Putin has shown no hesitance to kill those who oppose or speak against him. Or arrest their families. I suspect that all of you courageous Internet Warriors would suddenly lose that courage if you were in her position.

  • Ismael says:

    Ntrebko was dismissed for refusing a disloyalty oath even though she called the war “senseless blind aggression.”

    • guest says:

      A “disloyalty oath”? Uh, what’s this? Swearing on the constitution, on the Bible, or what? Or did you fall for her patriotic drivel that she “was forced to denounce her homeland”? She wasn’t _forced_ to do anything, and her _homeland_ isn’t behind the invasion of Ukraine, that’s _Putin_. Let’s not confuse her homeland with the current regime. The rest of her statement was sullen and nothing but a calculation on future employability, and it misfired.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    “In the first place, it is ethically wrong for organisations to demand that performers issue a loyalty/disloyalty statement towards Putin. That is a Stalinist tactic, and it must stop.

    Second, any boycott should be targeted strictly at those who benefit personally and financially from Putin’s regime, or who have shown outspoken support for his aggression in Ukraine.”

    Agreed 1000%.

  • Bonetti Micaela says:

    Thank you, Mr Lebrecht.

  • Olena says:

    We are waiting do currentzis to speak out then.

  • Mary Robinson says:

    Do these people in the West realise that speaking out against Putin could mean a prison sentence or even death?

    • guest says:

      Rest assured they do realize. Some Russian artists spoke against Putin, you know. Not that anyone has ever seriously expected Gergiev could entertain the notion, he’s too cozy in Russia, and now he was even proclaimed hero of the Russian homeland by the Russian media, because “he acted like a citizen when the Fatherland is in danger.” Yeah. Fatherland is in danger. ’nuff said. To paraphrase you, do these people in Russia (I assume you belong to them despite your assumed name) realize what b.s. this is, Mary?

  • am says:

    If we truly believe in the ability of art to connect us, unite us, heal us, encourage us to understand; why doesn’t it work for Russians? When you justify them and defend them, they destroy all and kill civilians. But wait… it’s not artists or sprtsmen that kill, but who then? Tailors, waiters, engineers …? It looks like nobody is to blame…

  • am says:

    Would you defend German artists in the same way in 1939-45?

  • Beverly Palmer says:

    Very thoughtful. wise, and ethical.

  • Curatica says:

    The author is right.

  • Howard says:

    Excellent point. BTW, I don’t recall any American artists being boycotted during the US war in Iraq…or Vietnam…or Afghanistan.

  • Hugh Mather says:

    For what it is worth, we at St Mary’s Perivale are broadcasting several recitals by Russian pianists over the next month – Ilya Kondratiev today (Tuesday), Konstantin Lapshin (March 29) Dimitry Kalashnikov (March 31) and Nikita Lukinov (April 12). And on Sunday March 13 we have 18 pianists playing all Mozart piano sonatas, including Roman Kosyakov (Russian) and Dinara Klinton and Sasha Grynyuk (both Ukrainian). All the Russians are representing themselves and not their country, and their recitals will go ahead as planned. Incidentally we broadcast far more piano recitals than the Wigmore or any other UK venue so you might like to tune in on Youtube ! No paywall – all free – and the musicians are all paid. http://www.st-marys-perivale.org.uk .

  • A.R. says:

    In truth, Putin hasn’t done anything that American leaders haven’t done time and again, on flimsier pretexts. But the West’s cancel-culture orgy is not a surprise, given the authoritarian impulses of the entire woke movement. Kiss the propaganda ring, or it’s off to the gulag with you. The next logical step from here is to make Westerners sign fealty oaths to certain leaders and policies, along with denunciations of “incorrect” leaders and policies, and we’ll have circled right back around to the days of Joe Stalin. Good times.