Vienna faces protests over Currentzis concert

Vienna faces protests over Currentzis concert


norman lebrecht

April 04, 2022

A planned appearance by the Greek conductor and his Russian musicAeterna ensemble, funded by a sanctioned bank, is attracting hostile responses on social media.

Like this, from the Vienna-based Ukrainian violinist Vira Zhuk, pictured below at her own fundraiser for 73 unaccompanied children evacuated from Ukraine.

Vira writes:

Dear team of Wiener Konzerthaus, liebes Wiener Publikum,

Why do you think that’s it is appropriate to host three concerts of Teodor Currentzis with his musicAeterna the following week? The orchestra is founded and sponsored by VTB bank, the second largest bank in Russia, currently under sanctions due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia clearly continues the Soviet tradition of using the culture as the main mouthpiece of propaganda. This has been so successful, that Europeans still can’t believe, that this criminal war is not just Putin’s crazy idea, but a horror supported by majority of Russians. Have you seen their latest ‘achievements’ in Ukraine? #buchamassacre.

The third concert announced as a benefit event, ‘a symbol of hope and peace in this crisis-ridden time’ ( crisis! ), which apparently supposed to camouflage the presence of this ensemble in the calendar, deserves special attention. Quite an impressive list of masterpieces from the Western history of music crowned with Tchaikovsky’s Elegie as the final work of the concert. Maybe a sign of ‘Russian liberation’?

Not to mention the recent controversial behaviour of the International Federation of Red Cross in Moscow, which is listed as the final destination for the donations.


  • Amos says:

    Simply publish the photos of the bodies of civilians lying in the streets of Bucha.

  • Gareth Jones says:

    She’s absolutely right, but unfortunately too many Austrian cultural institutions seem very reluctant to make any concessions at all on this question.
    As an historian, I can’t begin to imagine where they learned such behaviour….

    • Amos says:

      Perhaps they learned their behavior and morality from their ancestors who tried to invert the birthplaces of Beethoven and hitler.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Or perhaps they understood that all human behaviour – on the spectrum from good to evil – cuts across all the races, especially when provided with the opportunity for perfidy.

        Evil doesn’t just belong to Austro-Germany any more than it does to Russia; we see it alive and well in many nations, just as we have in the past and will continue to see into the future. The scale might differ but the intent is exactly the same.

        • Amos says:

          Your predictable support for fascism in all forms is always appreciated.

          • John Borstlap says:

            That’s just nasty, obviously the comment was one of resignation, not of endorsement.

          • Amos says:

            First, for as long as I’ve been reading this blog the person who left the comment has supported every fascist leader and cause on the world scene since 1933 and denigrated virtually every person belonging to a minority community as well as women who don’t follow “traditional” roles. Second, I find it rich that someone like yourself judges any comment as “nasty” when they address every criticism of their views and art by assuming the female persona Sally.

    • Marilena Volosinovici says:

      The Russians did exactly the same during and after WWll They behaved like savages and were rewarded with territories from countries like Romania and Poland … However must be in their training and their blood! Not even animals behave like these russians! Putin and his followers are the scam of the Earth!

  • Susan says:

    What a chance for many to upgrade their careers! Choosing one side over the other is creating more resistance and more war. I thought artists are better educated! What is it to do with war? Did Currentzis call the war? Or maybe his orchestra? The bank was their sponsors for many years now. Did people check the pictures that they have been shown by the media from Ukraine? What if it’s fake? Ukraine forbid pro Russian parties, news. They are pushing us to do the same here! What about Syrien refugees or refugees? Why didn’t we have any concerts for them and screaming everywhere about war atrocities? People barely can influence any political decisions! What is happening is mass psychosis! If we want peace then we must make it. We should stop accusing the others and look at ourselves and our governments. People that know each other can’t find a way to diplomatic relations and they send their own citizens to fight that don’t know each other to fight against each other with patriotic narratives! And they sell it to us through the media that they fight for our freedom? And make us hate each other. Are we so simple to be manipulated?

    • Amos says:

      The only thing fake about the bodies in the streets of Bucha are the efforts of the russian leadership to plant stories like yours. Is it really worth a few bitcoin to excuse the atrocities your handlers are unleashing on a country free to dissent and more prosperous than yours?

    • Nick says:

      “If we want peace then we must make it. We should stop accusing the others and look at ourselves and our governments. ” Yes, that was the failing in dealing with Hitler – the Allied powers shouldn’t have resisted but rather spent time wondering about their own faults. Good grief. I actually have sympathy with the idea that in general we should be quick to examine our responsibility in contentious situations, but when faced with something like a madman, isn’t it a pretty futile exercise?

    • PGHK says:

      Your comments are irrelevant. Sanctions are designed to inflict pain. Russian people commit crimes and they must get some pain in return. Syria has nothing to do with this if only to confirm that sanctions against Russia are needed.

    • Rena says:

      It is a matter of well being and good nuturing of each other. Love, is two notions:one is positive and the other is negative. When we love in a positive way, we share, when in negative ways we give.
      So give love a chance, and lots of minds…
      I disagreed with you Susan, because you said that we make peace. No, peace, and wealth are given for us. When we keep them close to our hearts, we do not even need to work, say as a priest.
      It is me Rena, or Irena, that you remember, as a fighter and a victim.
      Of course,
      Mr Currentzis is for me an amazing fighter. Remember me as lol.

  • Andrey says:

    She is so right. I hope she can upend this honeymoon of Courrentzis in Europe. I was writing endless unanswered letters to venues with little to no replies. Just because hes name sounds un-Russian doesn’t mean he is supported by state and largest russian banks. Please support this letter and call out venues who host this Russian conductor.

    • Hugo Preuß says:

      There is a rather simple way to deal with it: DON’T go to his concerts. Let them play for an empty house, with only the Russian ambassador attending the concert. Let’s see how the maestro likes this audience statement.

  • Tamino says:

    I feel sorry for TC. Just unlucky. You built your life’s work out of Russia, unpolitically, because you happened to study there, only to be caught in the dilemma of being forced to choose sides on the new iron curtain and front line and in the consequence loose your life’s work, your professional child.
    He hasn’t done anything criminal. Destiny can be a bitch.

    • Amos says:

      I feel sorry for the people of Ukraine who have endured death and destruction at the hands of the leader of russia. The fact that those in the arts in russia, like TC, who profit from his support lack the moral clarity to renounce his actions are no better than he is. In this instance, history is an excellent teacher and the actions of Toscanini vs. Furtwangler demonstrate that the former acted morally in response to tyrants whereas the latter equivocated until his personal safety was threatened.

      • Tamino says:

        Whataboutism… This is a thread about TC specifically, not about people in Ukraine primarily. I can feel sorry for him AND the people in Ukraine, can’t I?
        And you sit probably in a comfy arm chair somewhere in the west, playing moral judge, oh the moral authority, so high…not

        • Amos says:

          This is a thread about the consequences of TC’s refusal to decry the genocide being carried out by his benefactor. If you think it demonstrates an inappropriate level of moral authority to speak out against those who put a gun to the head of innocent people then you have my sympathy.

      • Greg Bottini says:

        Although I understand Tamino’s point of view about TC, and sympathize with it to some degree, you are right about one thing, Amos.
        Toscanini acted with absolutely certain moral decisiveness regarding the rise of Fascism, both German- and Italian-style.
        After all these years, there are still questions being asked about Furtwangler.
        In a better world, there would be more Toscaninis.

        • Harry Collier says:

          Toscanini stayed in New York, even after 1944. Money spoke louder than patriotism.

          • Amos says:

            At 77 years old was he supposed to volunteer for the infantry? Try looking up how much money, at orchestra bond rallies, he raised for allied war causes. Similarly, in 1938 he traveled to Palestine, without fee, to lead an orchestra of exiles from nazis Europe. Last, unlike many of his colleagues, from 1933-to 1945 he refused to conduct anywhere controlled by fascists.

    • Gareth Jones says:

      The notion that Currentzis is unpolitical is the worst joke I’ve heard in months

  • The View from America says:

    If Currentzis’ performances are indeed canceled, there’s a silver lining: It will give him more time to pursue his side hustle as a “film star.”

  • The View from America says:

    If Currentzis’ performances are indeed canceled, there’s a silver lining: It will give him more time to pursue his side hustle as a “film star.”

  • Couperin says:

    She could also play his rehearsal video of Prokofiev Sym. 5 as an example of crimes against humanity.

  • ASOPHIA says:

    Given the mono-dimensionality and the stiffness of the haters posting here I dare to simply state that this concert will have an a priori value just for lining up Alexandre Kantorow in these days. The rest is up your arse.

  • BigSir says:

    Yes, let’s cancel some more culture in the name of politics.

  • Dave says:

    Currentzis clearly had no problem working for a bank that is linked to a country that annexed part of another country and fomented armed dissent in that other country. He must, as a minimum, utterly repudiate Putin and Russia’s actions if he is to perform in the free World.

  • Ragnar Danneskjoeld says:

    Collecting donations for the Russian Red Cross would be far more tasteless than his conducting – no matter your view on TC.