A violist is Putin’s Hero of Labour

A violist is Putin’s Hero of Labour


norman lebrecht

June 13, 2022

The violist and conductor Yuri Bashmet has been honoured by president Putin as a Hero of Labour on Russia Day, 12 June.

He has been a craven collaborator of the regime.

Bashmet delivered a short speech on the supposed ‘cancellation’ of Russian culture in the West.

He said: ‘Today, when in some places they refuse Tchaikovsky, Pushkin, Chekhov, they, in fact, refuse their heart, their soul, that is, the very essence of our culture.’


  • Bratsche Brat says:

    Canceling Tchaikovsky is absolutely absurd – anyone who disagrees with that has completely lost their mind.

    • Adonis says:

      I haven’t heard of any UK orchestra banning Tchaikovsky other than one amateur orchestra at the start of the war. It was a sensible (indeed sensitive) decision as they had a Ukrainian player and the programme included the 1812 and so-called ‘Little Russian’ symphony.

      Don’t be so absolute – there are always reasonable exceptions…

    • Sisko24 says:

      If that had actually happened, I’d agree with you. But as it didn’t – certainly not in New York and not in many other cities – I’d say that is a tendentious proposition, wouldn’t you? Note that the comment on what Mr. Bashmet said includes the phrase, “…supposed cancellation…” indicating that no cancellation in the West (which does include New York, Boston, London, etc.) actually happened.

    • AlbericM says:

      Viola Brother: Bashmet, is that you? I haven’t lost my mind, and I think it would be to the good if Tchaikovsky were removed from the repertoire for, say, 10 years. It would make room for a lot of other, more interesting music.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    Probably has the biggest bank account of any violist in the world, despite not having practiced much these decades.

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Bashmet & Spivakov have for decades competed for the position of The Brownest Nose in post Soviet Russia. It brought them both unimagined wealth – Music be damned.

  • Gustavo says:

    The question is: do we need to ban Schnittke’s viola concerto?

    • phillip richards says:

      Just viola concertos in general.

    • John Soutter says:

      The question is do you want to have Schnittke’s Viola Concerto available so that on can freely ignore it, or have it banned so that one can only ignore it?

  • Preferences says:

    Is he scheduled to perform at la Scala?

  • Thomas M. says:

    That MUST be the end of his career in the West. Hopefully.

  • alexis piantedoux says:

    Bashmet had a great reputation as a musician and as a violist long BEFORE Putin got the power, he very often performed with Richter, A.S. Mutter, Argerich, Gutman and many many other fine musicians…Schnitke wrote a beautiful music for him and other composers write authentic masterpiece for him. He don’t need Putin to be recognize.

  • Gustavo says:

    Bashmet bashing banned

  • Lothario Hunter says:

    Russian composers are not getting cancelled in the West. Ask Chicago and Muti, who with a startling mix of foresight and impeccable timing engineered a marathon of Russian music (a Russian blast) for the farewell season of the octogenarian conductor.

    The fact that Muti was a recipient of the Order of Friendship Russian honor conferred on him by Putin – an honor that he is not wiling to return – is purely coincidental and should not be improperly brought into discussion here. The man is in love with Russia, and a war won’t change that love. We ought to respect that.

  • Uncle Sam says:

    That guy (Bashmet) has been one of the Putin’s most ardent bootlickers for years! Here’s what he said about his Master in 2019 (the translation from the link below):
    “People’s Artist of the USSR Yuri Bashmet is sure that Western countries are angry and jealous that they do not have “a leader of such talent and such qualities” as Russian President Vladimir Putin. He expressed this opinion in an interview with RTVI. The musician believes that the sanctions of Western countries are associated with the appearance of a “powerful boy.” “And most importantly, they are just jealous, they don’t have Putin. Nobody. Well, where is the leader of such talent and such qualities? No,” says Bashmet.”
    Well, hopefully the pair will have an ample chance to continue the mutual admiration for a long time – in hell, where both belong…


  • corruption in Russia says:

    I thought he was hiding from Putin after the infamous wine spilling incident?

    He must have re-emerged from under the table, begged for forgiveness, with kisses to bare chested macho riding horses, or flying in some weird bird brain thingy, or faking finding amphora in the sea.
    Fake honours from an aging ex-Stasi leader with a GDP no bigger than Italy.
    What could go wrong?

  • Philip newton says:

    Vassily Petrenkos Mahler 5th two sundays ago with the RLPO here. Spellbinding. Standing ovations.

  • Julia says:

    The Russian propaganda uses this argument (of cancelling Russian culture) for its purposes. They take some rare unfortunate cases and present them as a routine which is not true of course. It is a pity Yuri bashmet who was once an excellent musician is a part of this

  • Stephen says:

    Tchaikovsky symphony no. 2 seems to be generally referred to now as “The Ukrainian Symphony” – and we’ll see how many older recordings will be renamed as such over the coming year!

    • AlbericM says:

      Oh, I like that. It makes clear the source of the style of the tunes. Can we also do that for the Prokofiev composition (is it the Second String Quartet?) which also uses ethnic themes? Prokofiev was born 30 miles west of Donetsk.

  • Tim Walton says:

    He mad be a great Violist, but in all other respects he’s an idiot.

  • IP says:

    Speech could be by some of the tender hearts here…

  • Sidney Pastor says:

    The guy has no moral compass and needs to be de-programmed!

  • Leslie MacPherson says:


  • Aristoman says:

    There are many places abroad which didn’t stopped play russian music. I played this week Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. I also see the news from Ukraine. Shame on anyone who support Putin’s brutal invasion. Bashmet had already respect from musical community didn’t need to take one from Putin. But there might be also threat to his life if refusing the prize. We will never know.

  • SoulCollector says:

    I mean… the viola jokes just write themselves…

  • TimmyVc says:

    It’s easy to judge Mr. Bashimet when we don’t have any fear of reprisal. This seems like Russian propaganda. I doubt he even wrote the speech himself…

  • Maxine says:

    Arts and politics don’t mix well.