Rage as renowned Russian pianist calls for Kyiv to be shut down

Rage as renowned Russian pianist calls for Kyiv to be shut down


norman lebrecht

March 14, 2022

The international pianist Boris Berezovsky has gone on Russian television channel 1 to declare that the west started the war in Ukraine.

Among other appalling statements, he urges the military to cut off electricity from Kyiv.

A military officer on the programme says, ‘that would create a humanitarian catastrophe’.

Berezovsky does not seem bothered.

Berezovsky, 53, won the 1990 International Tchaikovsky Competition and went on to enjoy a considerable international career.

He has made recordings for Warner Classics and others.

Here’s the full untranslated video of his unpleasant remarks on TV.

UPDATE: What made him do it?


  • Bernd Brackman says:

    A horrible human being..

  • Andrew Constantine says:

    Worked with this guy once. Didn’t like him then, like him less now! Completely slimy human being.

  • Ms.Melody says:

    This disgusting clip illustrates the depth of Russian propaganda. This man is so brain-washed that even a military officer has to tell him that Russia cannot create a humanitarian catastrophe, because it will probably look even worse than it does now.

    • UJG says:

      I had the feeling he was stooged into making the military look good: “See, we, the humanitarian Russian army, are resisting pressures from these horribly cruel musicians to create an inhumane disaster in Ukraine!” (Not that this takes any responsibility away from either of them…)

  • marcus says:

    Well that’s his international career down the toilet. Prat.

  • MacroV says:

    He’s even outdone Gergiev and Matsuev, both of whom may be unwilling to distance themselves from Putin but haven’t, to my knowledge, actually called for aggression toward the civilian Ukrainian population.

    Not sure if he’s been working much in the West but I imagine he won’t again for quite a while, deservedly.

  • Lost and found says:

    His daughter was arrested some weeks ago for some hours. Maybe he was forced to give this statement.
    We should be careful with judgements.

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      I’am agree with you.

    • AndrewB says:

      I don’t recognize this man who says such appalling things. I was involved in a couple of long concert series with him about 18 years ago. He was easy going company on travels , a bit of a practical joker , played draughts offstage whenever he got the chance while waiting to perform. I would say he had a very ‘western’ outlook at that time due to his studies , travels and living in France.
      He does not look comfortable in that TV studio and I get the impression he is speaking for speaking’s sake. Might that be why what he says is so alarming and ill thought through/ incoherent even?
      Some may feel this evil invasion is showing his real character or his character as it is now – perhaps that is so?
      While condemning Putin , this invasion and Berezovsky’s comments which I find repulsive, I can’t help but think there might be more to this than meets the eye at first glance?
      His daughter is clearly no supporter of the current Russian government if she was arrested for protesting.
      Could he be being manipulated into making propaganda here and publicly supporting the regime? They must be looking for artists, musicians , people from the public sphere to do so and are they beyond applying pressure to get a result? I wonder.
      All I can say is that I am appalled by what I hear and shocked by what I see .

    • Reno says:

      I also have the unexplainable feeling looking at the video that he might be cleverly ironic, talking explicitly of war on TV altough the word is forbidden and finally describing what the army is actually doing, putting the military man beside him in an awkward position.

  • Michael Endres says:

    A cultural ambassador of some sort.

  • pianist says:

    He literally says that all western media is lying!

    • J Barcelo says:

      Well, the media has lied about so much in recent decades that it’s sometimes hard to know what the truth is. In the USA, the New York Times, Washington Post, tv networks ABC, NBC, CBS and yes, NPR, have a tenuous grasp of truth-telling.

      • True North says:

        Oh yes? Please tell us about some more reliable resources, then.

      • Nick says:

        You are absolutely right, J Barcelo. WaPo, NYTimes, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CBS, BBC, NPR, LATimes — are all Left and/or radical-Left propaganda, but all Russian media are propagandists too.
        Boris is simply not a terribly smart guy and he admits it when saying “I do not understand…”. Admits unknowingly. Regardless, his attitude is nothing short of revolting!!!

        • Mel Cadman says:

          … That’s certainly news to me that the BBC is : ‘ … Left and/or radical left propaganda … (sic) ‘.!!!

      • SK says:

        Really, J, is that what you think?
        And what are your sources of truth-telling: Murdoch’s False News network? One America? Newsmax? NY Post? Some other source of right-wing propaganda? The NY Times is consistently far closer to reality than those emetic purveyors of pukedom. Seems you’ve drunk the plutocratic-nationalist swill of the Orange Abomination, our would-be dictator in Mara Lago.

  • HUMAN says:

    He is a total Psychopath

  • M McAlpine says:

    Thankfully I have none of his recordings on my shelf

  • music lover says:

    He hit the bottle years ago….I played in a concert where he clearly couldn´t walk the line on his way onstage.To his credit,he played brilliantly nevertheless.But his appearance at the post concert reception was absolutely embarassing….i rarely have experienced a person that pissed.

  • Svetlana says:

    I watched the entire interview. It’s even worse than that. He is dripping with hatred and resentment of the West. Paraphrasing him “ I am a musician and humanitarian. I understand that you (military) are trying to conduct your operation humanely and precisely but could we just encircle them all (Western Ukraine) and turn the electricity off?”
    In other words, he is suggesting the Russian military not to get too worried about humanitarian disaster and get even more brutal. That’s the gist of his remarks.
    From this point on he shouldn’t be invited anywhere in the civilized world. As a musician and a putrid human being he is dead to me.

  • Bloom says:

    ”We know now that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning.”George Steiner

    • John Borstlap says:

      Steiner claims, in his ‘In Bluebeard’s Castle’, that this kind of antimoral behavior is deeply embedded in Wester/European cuture, that the culture is responsible for such abberations because of its ideas of sublimity. So, when a psychopath reads Goethe and kills Jews, it’s Goethe’s fault. Bach could not stop the holocaust, so: it’s his fault. Etc. etc…

  • Svitlana says:

    This behaviour should make him a persona non grata in a civilised world!

    • Cynical Bystander says:

      There is much in the so-called civilised world that does not bear close scrutiny. The current spotlight is on Russia as a pariah state but our PM is off to schmooze the Saudis later this week. I doubt he will be pointing to their less than civilised activities.

      • MuddyBoots says:

        As factually correct as you may be, your timing is way off. Most urgently important things first. Your PM is schmoozing the Saudis in hopes of getting them to increase oil production to make up for Russian oil that is sanctioned. As such this particular action may be required at this time. But the sooner energy conservation and the move away from oil occurs the better

  • Lev Deych says:

    it seems that rot has penetrated entire Russian culture. Disgusting.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The Guardian warned that, in a next to worst-case scenario, Russian would become a North Korea and the Ukraine a Syria. Seems exaggerated but no longer unthinkable.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Throughout human history, they seem to be an almost primordially evil people. Even many of those who “defect” to the West (and then consistently fervently support the worst right-wing and quasi-fascistic authoritarians such as Trump).

  • Christopher says:

    Another member of Putin’s private Conservatory of has-beens.

  • Bloom says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqQhOuWMtYQ For rekindling faith in classical music and classical musicians.

  • Topo says:

    Boris will spend rest of his life in Russia and North Korea

  • Scott Rose says:

    Berezovsky’s Paris agent is Albert Sarfati

  • John Borstlap says:

    Well, this absurd and tragic crisis is showing-up people all around.

  • Andrey says:

    I hope he is LANDLOCKED forever from now on, there is no coming back from this. Yes, he is good, but there are dozens of Asian kids at least as good as he is.

  • Mercurius Londiniensis says:

    Well, now we know where he stands, and from his own lips. Music lovers will draw their own conclusions.

    I suppose there is some comfort to be gained from the fact that the Russian military officer standing next to him was clearly appalled.

    • Sisko24 says:

      My experience with military officers – at least American ones – is that they have a higher sense of what constitutes a ‘moral war’. The politicians who send them off to fight are usually clueless.

  • James Weiss says:

    One word: asshole. Be gone.

  • Io says:

    A fking drunk and a piece of s. Had to deal with him in the past. Skum.

  • IP says:

    From the depths of the Russian . . . soul???

  • Feeling yellow and blue says:

    This from man who has had the privilege to travel the world and experience the education and benefits that come with that. What an utter disgrace to promulgate these lies when he clearly *knows* better. It’s easier to forgive those Russians who have never set a foot outside their country and are force-fed a diet of state propaganda.

  • boris says:

    He just lost his little tiny rest of mind.
    He is just an artist.

  • JB says:

    Very disappointing. He was a regular presence in France for many years where I heard him several times. Excellent pianist, but this does not prevent from lousy judgement in political manners as shows the example of Alfred Cortot.

  • Hans says:

    We need to boycott all Chinese pianists as well since China appears to be in bed with Russia. Do it!

    • John Borstlap says:

      The point is, whether artists have direct ties with their regime or not, or whether they express supporting opinions about the crimes of their country.

  • fflambeau says:

    One can be a talented musician and still be a fascist. See Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich’s dad, by the way, was a German composer and opera singer and managed a musical school.

  • John U says:

    Boris clearly says a lot more than that, and I for one would like to have a decent translation of everything he says before passing judgement or slipping a disc.

    • Agnes Kory says:

      Exactly, John! This rage against Berezovsky from the comfort of armchairs in the West is stomach turning. The lynch mob should research facts in all dimensions but lynch mobs don’t do research.

      • Andres Carciente says:

        Being a musician is not an excuse for lack of empathy… It seems Berezovsky is rather too confortable in his Moscow armchair … Learn from Bela Bartok who protested against the anti jewish laws promulgated my the Hungaria Parliament ( 1938) and even left his country, having nothing personally to loose… But first of all, you have to have courage, moral courage I mean…

  • Kateryna says:

    shut him down!

  • Joel says:

    Some more cds to get rid of

  • Uncle Sam says:

    Here’s another shameful recent page in this obnoxious guy’s bio: On February 25th of this year, on THE VERY NEXT DAY after the Russia’s bloody invasion had started, on the very day when Russian rockets and bombs and tanks were pounding Ukrainian cities, towns and villages like there’s no tomorrow, he chose to go ahead with his concert in Moscow, although it seems they couldn’t find a conductor for the event and the hall looked half-empty. War? What war?? There he is: seemingly in a pretty good mood, smiles, flowers – business as usual, not a word about the horror his countrymen were inflicting during that very concert onto their “Slavic brothers and sisters”. What a putz!


  • Tiredofitall says:

    Inhuman pig.

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Boris, for crissakes, please stick to your day-job.

  • DG says:

    Boris can look forward to endless concert tours of Siberia for the rest of his career.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    He can stay in Russia. The world needs less competing classical pianists, not more.

  • V.Lind says:

    A LOT of people in Canada have known this guy as a jerk for a very long time. Bit this is beyond the pale. He makes Gergiev and Netrebko look like diplomats.

  • Poutine says:

    This is what happens when you have too many gambling debts. I wonder what his daughter Evelyne in London thinks of his daddy right now.

  • Martin says:


  • O. D. Jones says:

    #257 in the “Great Career Ending Moments in Show Business”, or this year’s early front runner for The Wilhelm Mengelburg Memorial Award.

  • Hans says:

    What a pity that he turned out to be a fascist… he hasn’t played the piano well in at least 20 years anyway.

  • Wim de Haan says:

    Sorry, I’m really sorry to write this, but Boris Berezovsky should be banned from international concert stages for ever. His words (and thinking) is unacceptable.

    • Kyle says:

      Words (and actions) may fairly be judged, but even the suggestion of reprisal based on other people’s unknowable thoughts is a bridge too far.

  • Scottish2022 says:

    It’s fine for Israel to annex Golan heights and Morocco to annex western Sahara both by force the double standards on this planet are blatantly obvious, pretty sure any country being surrounded by NATO would get a bit annoyed and Ukraine has military units proud to have nazi symbols on their uniforms yet their government are fine with this that’s an issue and very easy to go and see this info.

    • horbus rohebian says:

      Jesus, what stunning ignorance. Blind to the facts and callous. Back to Scotland to the land of mists and midges mate…

      • V.Lind says:

        I’m very much afraid it is true about neo-Nazi elements in the military, and elsewhere, particularly in the east. Which justifies nothing Russia has done. But take a closer look before you denigrate.

        • Mystic Chord says:

          There are neo-Nazi groups everywhere – it’s a pan European problem, you can’t just single out Ukraine. Of course there are no members of the extreme right in Russia … LOL.

          • V.Lind says:

            No argument from me. I was just responding to a poster who implied another was making it up. Not true.

            But it has nothing to do with what Putin is up to. This is an annexation effort, pure and simple. Because Zhelinskiy has removed Putin’s other stated fear from play: Ukraine joining NATO. If this was really about any Russian fear of Ukraine, this war would be over.

    • Helen Wynn says:

      Your are obviously eating too much Haggis!

    • As far as Israel is concerned, she was ATTACKED by Syria and in the defensive war that followed, Syria lost control of the Golan Heights. That is not quite the same as being “a bit annoyed” at being “surrounded by NATO”. But if you want to point out double standards, how about the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, and the Chinese occupation of Tibet?

  • Felix says:

    Disgusting. Clearly he is in ‘you know who’s’ pocket.

  • Liana Narubina( pianist) says:

    He is dead for me,it is a shock.

  • Viv says:

    Disgusting he is.

  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    If he realy said that and if he thinks that…. it’s very chocking for me. And sad. I like this pianist from a long time.

  • Jean says:

    I don’t want to see this guy’s face ever again

  • SlavaUkraini says:

    He is represented by Marina Bower – another pro-Putin Russian – in Sarfati agency which is located in Paris. Every orchestra and producer should ban them immediately.

  • John Humphreys says:

    Both depressing and unforgivable. Knew him quite well when he lived in UK. A great pianist and good company. A different Boris emerges here.

  • bebop1971 says:

    How sad. Many years ago I had the honour of being his page turner at the Aldeburgh Festival for the Prokofiev Piano Sonata in B♭. We set each other off, sniggering like two schoolboys as he hammered out the exaggerated figures. Always had a soft spot for him since. Sorry to hear this about this latest outburst, although a previous commenter stated that his family may have been arrested. This slightly tempers my feelings.

  • Shame on you, Boris Berezovsky!!

  • Nick K says:

    A pianist for the Trumpsters and Putinists.

  • Michael Coolen says:

    He once noted that he “mismanaged” his career in the 90s and tried to restart it in the USA. Well, once again, he’s screwed.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    If your country is run by a mafia-style don/thug then the perfect political formulation for success is cutting off access to media for your people and using individuals with high profiles to spruik your propaganda for you. Like Emil Jannings during WW2, this pianist considers being a mouthpiece for a tyrant will pay him dividends. It will not. He is done, just as Jannings was. (The latter died ignominiously in Switzerland in 1950 after a once-stellar acting career in German film.)

  • It is very sad, these words are a scandal. So sorry.
    Désiré N’Kaoua, pianist

  • Andres Carciente says:

    Unfortunately typical of musicians: the main things is their career, no matter what is happening all around. Like unfortunately Claudio Arrau in Nazi Germany, playing concerts from 1933-1941, after Kristallnacht also… To be a musician is not an excuse not to have empathy for others! The opposite example would be Béla Bartók, who left Hungary in 1940, even if he personally had nothing to loose. Erick Kleiber also left Germany in protest against Hitler and the nazis! Few people have this courage…