German minister: We will not stop listening to Tchaikovsky and reading Chekhov

German minister: We will not stop listening to Tchaikovsky and reading Chekhov


norman lebrecht

March 16, 2022

Germany’s culture minister Claudia Roth spoke at last night’s Ukraine fundraising concert in Berlin.

Among other things the Green politician said: ‘Music is the most effective, the most radical contradiction to war…

‘We must contradict this deadly, this unbounded madness, as loudly and as audibly as humanly possible. Precisely because we cannot stop the aggressor, because we cannot stop Putin, because we have no means of ending this criminal war in Ukraine right now, we need these widely audible signs of solidarity with the Ukrainians…

But: ‘We will not stop listening to Tchaikovsky and reading Chekhov. I don’t want to imagine a world without Russian culture, without Ukrainian culture, without our culture and therefore I oppose anyone who tries to instrumentalize or boycott culture. It’s the culture that makes us human.’




  • IP says:

    She might even start to.

  • erich says:

    Do you think Nadine Dorries even knows who Tchaikovsky and Chekhov were?

  • J Barcelo says:

    During WW I, the Boston Symphony – to its eternal shame – found its conductor, Karl Muck, in a prison camp. Beethoven, Wagner, and other German composers banned. While I can understand playing “1812 Overture” is a bit sensitive right now, Tchaikovsky had nothing to do with the current evil in that part of the world and the joy his music brings is much needed.

    • Koontakkin Taye says:

      WRONG! Tchaikovsky’s music should never be performed again.

      Putin’s actions are disgusting and ALL Russians, past and present, must be held accountable.


    • Cathy Zadoretzky says:

      It is difficult to interpret Madame Roth’s comments here without context. There are artists and musicians who — regardless of the music they perform — publicly support the invasion of Ukraine. They exploit their celebrity to champion Putin and whitewash the genocide of Ukrainians. To employ those artists would make any institution complicit with the purpose of their “soft power ” to normalize the invasion of sovereign Ukraine. I personally hope Madame Roth knows that Tchaikovsky was Ukrainian.

      • M McGrath says:

        Give it a rest! Who cares WHAT nationality Tchaikovsky was! This kind of thinking just makes matters worse in an already fraught world. Claudia Roth is a remarkable woman, and, from the context of Germany’s past, which included banning music, art, literature, etc. because of race, gender, national origin, etc., she is emphasizing that there will be no BANNING of anyone during this war. As it should be. Brava.

        • guest says:

          Gergiev and Netrebko are “banned” (though I dislike the term), but _not_ because of “race, gender, national origin.” They don’t perform in Germany because of the “etc.” in your post. In this particular situation, the “etc.” means they are Putin supporters.

          I don’t give a fig about Tchaikovsky’s nationality. I don’t give a fig about concert halls cancelling a Tchaikovsky concert either. The works of major composers can’t be banned from our lives in the 21st century, there are millions of recordings available. There are also recordings featuring VG and AN, so everybody can hear what the West has lost by their absence – or gained.

  • music lover says:

    I haven’t been Claudia ‘s biggest fan in the past… But hats off!!! Spot on speech!!!

  • Cathy Zadoretzky says:

    I hope Madame Roth knows that Tchaikovsky is Ukrainian.

    • IP says:

      I am glad that she did not promise to read Tchaikovsky and listen to Chekhov.

    • Tamino says:

      No he is not. And it‘s also quite irrelevant. As they say: nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrels, the tiny narrow minded. Tchaikovsky is much bigger for all mankind than an attribute of national origin.
      Your mindset creates division, ultimately also war.

  • Andy says:

    During World War II, to raise the spirits of Londoners, Myra Hess organized daily concerts at the National Gallery. Hitler was bombing the city, but Hess and her musician friends played Bach, Beethoven and Brahms to enrich their audiences.

    History informs us that Tchaikovsky loved Ukraine, its people, its culture and its music. He used his celebrity and influence to lobby the Russian government to create the Kyiv Conservatory, the eventual construction of which was spearheaded by Rachmaninoff and Glazunov.

    Political and religious tyrants and regimes silence music. Roth’s words and perspective are enlightened and refreshing.

  • Genius Repairman says:

    I agree. The great Russian artists and thinkers of the past have nothing to do with Putin the Disgusting.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Good for her. A voice of sanity in the current headless-chicken madness.

  • Constanze Backes says:

    Good old Claudia. I’m glad she’s getting some praise for a change.

  • Adolphina Frappéler says:

    Tchaikovsky was gay, so…

  • IC225 says:

    I’ve not seen a single genuine case of Russian artworks (as opposed to individual artists) being boycotted since this started. But some people do seem desperately to want it to be true.