Munich will not pay out Gergiev’s contract

Munich will not pay out Gergiev’s contract


norman lebrecht

March 12, 2022

Bavarian Radio reports that German lawyers have advised the city of Munich that it will not have to pay compensation for firing Valery Gergiev because his pro-Putin actions brought the city into disrepute.

Gergiev had been chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic for almost seven years at an estimated annual fee of two to three million Euros. His contract was scheduled to run until the summer of 2025, so the loss of earnings amounts to at least six million Euros.

Report here.


  • BP says:

    Gergiev would certainly have grounds to sue. Could this turn into a lingering issue for the orchestra while it looks for a new music director ?

    • John Kelly says:

      Somehow I don’t think he is going to bother suing…………….

    • fflambeau says:

      Grounds to sue and a successful lawsuit are two different things. I cannot imagine Gergiev winning a jury trial now.

      • wim de haan says:

        I guess you live in the US, in Europe we have a different law system, the judge will decide (we don not have a jury system). And I am not in law suits, but it feels this is an unilateral breach of a contract, so the orchestra will not stand strong

        • guest says:

          German lawyers have advised the city of Munich that it will not have to pay compensation. You aren’t a lawyer but feel somehow that the orchestra hasn’t a strong stand. Wonderful thing, feelings.

      • fflambeau says:

        Or a trial before a judge (Germany indeed has no jury trials.) Even if he “won”, the money could be confiscated. I think Gergiev simply walks away.

      • Ana says:

        Why? You think he’s guilty for the war in Ukraine?

      • Kastro Jurijs says:

        So you agree that there is a rusophobic bias

    • Riom says:

      Suing for not being paid while doing his Putin propaganda? That an interesting idea!

  • I’m sure many in Munich are wondering now why they ever hired him as chief music director in 2015 after what happened before that?

    He can sue them, of course, but — good luck with winning that case now.

  • AB says:

    i trust your reporting but i am literally gob smacked at this. can this fee even be real? i cannot reveal my name on here but i really put my foot down when a famous conductor wanted 40k a concert. just no. i’m all for classical musicians being compensated but honestly munich, what are you thinking?!

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Back in the 90s Maazel creamed Munich for 6 million marks.

    • John Borstlap says:

      These fees are indeed grotesquely exaggerated, if measured against salaries of players, the orchestra’s budget, the upkeep, etc. Conductors should be paid very well, absolutely, but not to the extent that it looks like skimming. It is supposed to be about art, not about market forces and getting rich.

  • waw says:

    Aw c’mon, pay him in rubles.

  • Monty Earleman says:

    2 to 3 million annually for a very part-time job. Nice work if you can get it!

  • MacroV says:

    Gergiev had already conducted a middle-finger concert in Tskhinvali after the Russian invasion in South Ossetia in 2008, and signed the letter in 2014 when Putin seized Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Munich was under no illusion about who Gergiev was when they hired him; they just didn’t care. It’s right that they dumped him now, but I hope they’ll spare us the Claude Raines.

    • JB says:

      You are absolutely right. The pro-Putin stance of Gergiev was fully known when Munich hired them, and this may well play in Gergiev hands if and when he sues. He made no declaration at all since the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    I appreciate that his earnings are probably the going rate for chief conductors of his supposed calibre. I don’t really. But if they were prepared to pay him this grotesgue amount of money then they deserve to be forced to pay the €6m so that they can ease their consciences as they, belatedly, side with the angels.

    It’s not as if his sympathies were not known prior to the invasion of Ukraine. If Munich and other institutions have to pay to support their belated bout of collective virtual signalling then they only have themselves to blame for their previous tolerance of what is now, inconveniently for them, seen as intolerable.

    • John Borstlap says:

      But now, their tolerance suddenly has become visible in a drastically wider way, so they try to reduce the image damage. My suspicion is that they hired him only for marketing reasons and not for artistic reasons – just to get as many bums as possible on the seats.

  • Cid says:

    Nice to see that Munich is supporting old WWII allies of the rebranded Azoz Brigade, Ukrainian Neo Nazis.

    • Milos Maricevic says:

      Why people do not see it?
      Are they so slow? So Cincal? Who is hounding Germany against it self and people are only watching. Last time was expensive but only 3 countries took the bill. G-YU-PL-R. Again?

    • Marko Velikonja says:

      Yes, those wicked people who live in apartment buildings and maternity hospitals. Shame on you.

  • phf655 says:

    Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic were to have opened Leipzig’s Mahlerfest (a cycle of Mahler’s orchestral music) in May 2023. Participants include the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Nelsons , Concertgebouw/Chung, Staatskapelle Dresden/Thielemann, and others. Gergiev’s name has been removed. The Munich Philharmonic will have to find a replacement conductor willing to conduct the 4th Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde on one program!

  • Mick the Knife says:

    It’s clear that Gergiev, in not making some throw off statement to keep a few million, is the one with real integrity in this episode.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      You understand, there is no integrity on either side here. First, Munich hired Gergiev, knowing he is a shill for Putin, and now Gergiev is silent, desperate to preserve some semblance of a future in the west. Shame on both sides.

      • John S says:

        Well. Didn’t it all change with the invasion of Ukraine? What might have seemed acceptable then (maybe) is ckearly grotesque now. Many people have changed their minds about Putin (or been pushed over the edge) by the invasion. Why not the City of Munich?!

  • Jorge Rojas says:

    Stupids and scoundrels too…

  • Elisabeth says:

    I hope he sues Munich out of existence.

  • VBMaestra says:

    Munich needs to extend a contract out to Vanessa Benelli Mosell.

  • Milos Maricevic says:

    What did he actually do?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Oh, honey…read a book.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Nothing. That’s the point. Just listen to his Bruckner. Some say the same of his Mahler too. Seriously, he was – and may still be – a member of Putin’s inner circle. It’s well documented and not just ‘fake news’. He’s still ‘on mute’ regarding the invasion itself. He refuses to condone it.

  • Jaro says:

    Kto zna choćby jednego wybitnego kompozytora ukraińskiego?

  • Richard M. Braun says:

    The carnage Gergiev’s beloved dictator is inflicting on Ukrainian civilians makes it unlikely he’ll find a sympathetic judge or jury in Germany to entertain a payout. #NaziRussia

    • Eve says:

      There are no juries in Roman law. It doesn’t care about your feelings towards Putin. If Georgiev is legally in the right, the judge will rule in his favour regardless of sentiment.
      Also, I’m sure many Ukranians will be fed and clothed by your pompous virtue signalling, keep it up, good job, atta lad, etc

  • Althea T-H says:

    Note his paycheck.
    I am absolutely disgusted with the over-inflated pay some musicians manage to obtain for themselves. They pursue their financial agendas too frequently at the expense of orchestral musicians, for whom only a pittance is left, once the conductor and soloist have trousered most of the funds.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Good for them. Still, ‘bad’ on them for recording all Bruckner with Gergiev in St. Florian Cathedral. I can well imagine Bruckner turning over and over where he’s entombed there.

  • Anna Astar says:

    This is the problem with the classical music industry (symptomatic for our society in general).
    It doesn’t earn almost anything.
    It’s losing audiences.
    It’s stuck in the past with its historically unique, suicidal reluctance to develop.
    But still it is boasting about crazy millions paid to made-of-PR figures that no one can explain what is so good about.
    How many new operas, symphonies, song cycles, etc. could have been written for just one-year worth of Gergiev’s finger-wiggling in just Munich?
    How many reduced-price concerts for younger audiences could have been produced?
    How many musicians could have gotten scholarships?
    And Gergiev is far, far not the only one getting these unbelievable sums.
    The world is sick – and sickening.

  • Vasilis. says:

    Sue these bums Gergiev.