The year Valery Gergiev vanished

The year Valery Gergiev vanished


norman lebrecht

December 27, 2022

At the turn of 2022, Gergiev was the busiest, wealthiest and most sought-after of the world’s musicians, master of St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre and the Munich Philharmonic and a guest in all the right places.

Then his close friend Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February and all of Gergiev’s glory just vanished into thin air. covered the Gergiev story closely, but it was not the most viewed post of the year.

These were:

1 Death of a humble star

2 1 in 4 concertgoers won’t return

3 Brilliant man dies

4 Russians kill Kyiv dancer

5 a boy is booed at Covent Garden

6 Santa Fe ousts Anne-Marie

7 Moscow cops break up Lyubimov recital

8 Il Divo finds new barihunk

9 Gergiev is fired by tearful agent

10 Netrebko is dumped by her management


  • Matt says:

    Can you share the top 20 most viewed posts of the year?

  • Not a gergiev hater says:

    In 50 years Gergiev will be remembered for his handful of incredible recordings and filmed performances. History will have separated the man and the music, just like it has done for Karajan.

    • MJA says:

      @Not a gergiev hater – I’m sure I’m going to regret asking here, but what does Karajan have to do with it? Sorry, but the cases are not remotely comparable.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      The emphasis there needs to be on “handful” (and a very small handful at that).

    • Luca says:

      Karajan was never the close friend of a murderous dictator!

      • Tamino says:

        True. An ethical question: What is worse: a hundred innocent people killed by a dictator, or a hundred innocent people killed by a democratically elected head of state?

        Another ethical question:
        What is worse: a hundred innocent people killed by the head of another nation, or a hundred innocent people killed by the head of your nation?

    • Smiling Larry says:

      I can’t say I’m familiar with Gergiev’s work. I’ve heard some stuff of his which I thought was quite fine but that’s about it. Which of his recordings and filmed performances do you regard as incredible? Thanks in advance.

  • Tom Phillips says:

    If only he really HAD vanished!

    • Ana says:

      Yes, he is probably guilty of war in Ukraine. Do you know what you are talking about? Where all that hatred came from?

      • Me says:

        Not hate. Human attitude. Disgust.
        and it comes when seeing humble people beeing killed because they didn t leave their home.

  • MacroV says:

    I don’t think so. Karajan always carries an asterisk, bigger for some than others. But he could be seen as a young opportunist who took the path he needed for a career; craven but understandable, and he lived/worked for 40+ years after the Nazis fell.

    Gergiev’s stature would have let him walk away from Putin and Russia and into the arms of ever. Others with far less gave up more; Rostropovich left the Soviet Union not really sure what awaited him. Maybe he will have time and opportunity eventually to rehabilitate himself in the West; otherwise he will be remembered as the brilliant conductor who threw it all away to side with the Butcher of Bucha (and the Terror of Tskhinvali). Well, they’ll love him in Voronezh.

    • Not a Gergiev hater says:

      It’s easy to say all this from our position of course. But unfortunately even if he wanted to, Gergiev couldn’t leave Russia, because his ties to the Mariinsky run too deep. In the Guardian interview of 1998 already, before Putin came to power, he said the Mariinsky was the most important thing in the world to him, and that he would devote his life to it. That he did. His career in the West always served to merely build up his profile and ultimately help the Mariinsky shine internationally. And of course he had to connect with Putin to allow the Mariinsky to flourish, most notably through the big building projects, repaying the huge debts that came with those, and making the house profitable by having so many performances every week. Could he leave, become a western hero of resistance to dictatorship, make millions and live the good life? Yes. But that would mean abandoning the company he devoted his life to. As a true captain, he decided to go down with the ship.

      • Ana says:

        It’s useless to explain that to hyenas without brain. Why they didn’t leave or at least condamn USA in times og Afganistan, Iraq… Oh, I’m sorry, their government didn’t tell them to do so.

        • Tom Phillips says:

          Far more Americans did than you slavish Russians. What wonderful regimes you have and people you are.

          • Ana says:

            I am not a slavish Russian. There must be something very wrong with you if you conclude things not knowing me at all. And to think that we Europeans must think the same way. What a dictator lives secretly in you.

      • MacroV says:

        Raphael Kubelik left Czechoslovakia, Prague, and his beloved Czech Philharmonic, and the Prague Spring Festival that he founded because he didn’t want to be associated with the communist government; he could have lived well under it.

        Gergiev has been a transformational leader for the Maryinsky, but he could walk away, and it would send an important message.

    • Yes Addison says:

      All I don’t agree with is the “brilliant” part. Gergiev can be very good in the right repertoire, on the right occasion. But often, in my experience, his performances have been routine and seemingly under-rehearsed. Sometimes he has varied widely even in the same work with the same ensemble. (Example: Much better Met Eugene Onegins in 2007 than in 2013.)

  • Gustavo says:

    Vanished and banished.

  • Elaine says:

    I miss him in the west!

  • Guest Principal says:

    His odour will linger for a while, but that too will fade eventually.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Gergiev is a great conductor and a good person. There is plenty of evidence to back up both of those assertions. He doesn’t have jack to do with the conflict in the Ukraine. The only logical explanation for the attack on Russian artists is that there is none.

  • anon says:

    Maybe orchestras won’t need to blow their budget on hiring his assistant to conduct the rehearsals then.