Currentzis refuses to condemn Russia’s war

Currentzis refuses to condemn Russia’s war


norman lebrecht

March 23, 2023

One of the Greek conductor’s most fervent supporters is Matthias Naske, director of the Wiener Konzerthaus for the past ten years.

Naske has repeatedly asked Currentzis to clarify his position on Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine. After his latest refusal, he has written his Russian orchestra out of Vienna’s next season.

He says: ‘You know about my good old relationship with Teodor Currentzis; However, you will no longer find the conductor in next season’s programme. This is no coincidence, but the result of an intense, painful process of reflection. Currentzis still does not comment on the Ukraine war. I had asked him for a statement, which has not come to this day. The political dimension of this silence is so great that we have decided to refrain from engaging Currentzis from the 2023/24 season until further notice. However, we are not breaking any agreements: At the end of the current season, Currentzis will be making a guest appearance with his (non-Russian) Utopia Orchestra in the Vienna Konzerthaus.’

Currentzis continues to be engaged by the Baden-Baden and Salzburg festivals.


  • Alan says:


    Say what we want you to say, irrespective of the consequences. Or we’ll end you.

    Nothing facist about that at all.

    Currentzis has said nothing. either way. And that’s not good enough?

    For shame on his critics, safe in their western enclaves.

    • SVM says:

      And even more egregious is the double standards. Has any British artist been cancelled because he/she “still does not comment on the Iraq/Afghanistan/Yugoslavia war”, or any other recent war crimes and acts of aggression perpetrated by our government? Has any British artist been called to account for having accepted a knighthood, thus giving a veneer of civilised legitimacy to war criminals such as Sir Tony Blair?

      Until we can get our own house in order, we are in no position to take the moral highground. A good start would be for the ICC to issue an international arrest warrant for Sir Tony Blair…

      • Piet Jan says:

        Finally normal thinking people!!! Thank you!!!!

      • Novagerio says:

        Still waiting for US musician’s condemnation of Bush the 1st’s Kuwait invasion (for oil), Bush the 2nd’s invasion of Iraq (for non-existing weapons of mass destruction) and Nato’s & Clinton’s destruction of Belgrade. Fair enough?
        Oh, that’s “whataboutism”? Or is it “selective News”? As in “It’s ok when we do it”?…

    • Dan says:

      Fascism is alive and well in Moscow nowadays, so please refrain from using Kremlin tactics of accusing others of what you are.

  • Serge says:

    This is like forcing small children to apology for something they have not done. Mr. Matthias Naske belongs as a kindergarten teacher, not as a grown up man with big responsibility.

  • Walter Klemmer says:

    That’s certainly an interesting position. Herr Naske wants a public statement so that he could sleep well and continue to sell Currentzis concerts – but how will he sell them if all his (how many, 150? 200?) Russian musicians go to jail? Or worse?

    Just yesterday in the NYT: “The government is increasingly penalizing people for posts it considers critical of the fighting in Ukraine — with fines, imprisonment and, in extreme cases, temporarily losing custody of their children.”

    What a fine man.

  • Robin Blick says:

    No surprise…not condemning Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the orthodox (sic) response for many Greeks.

  • Alan says:

    The attempt to penalise a whole people for the actions of their government is a war crime. Currentzis has given no word of support to the regime in Russia regarding the war. He has remained silent.

    Penalising or attempting to blame him for this is criminal in and off itself.

    • sonicsinfonia says:

      You know how his orchestra is funded, presumably?

      He’s in an admittedly unenviable position of being asked to decide where he stands, the consequences of which could be very dark for his musicians.

      It is not a matter of penalising a people for their government’s actions.

    • Brettermeier says:

      “The attempt to penalise a whole people for the actions of their government is a war crime.”

      So, Alan. It’s okay to penalize Germans but you draw the line at ruzzians? Interesting.

      Btw., what you’re saying is complete bullshit. Just saying.

      • Alan says:

        No it’s not ok to penalise the Germans, whatever it is that you’re talking about? And if you’re referring back to WW1 then of course that was absoltuley wrong, with horrific consequences.

        And it’s not bullshit. It’s actually front and centre in the Geneva Convention.

        • Brettermeier says:

          “And it’s not bullshit. It’s actually front and centre in the Geneva Convention.”

          Ugh, just no. Have you even read it?

      • Harry Collier says:

        We should also penalise Americans for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran (1953).

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Fascist tactics: demanding a politically motivated loyalty oath from artists. Then taking away their work when they won’t give it.

    • sonicsinfonia says:

      Presumably if he gives it, his orchestra ceases to exist. If he doesn’t he is denied work by the civilised world which does not support the actions of his funders. What would you do?

      • Simpson says:

        The orchestra will not cease to exist, it will get a new conductor, that’s all. TC will be replaced, the orchestra will continue.

  • MYC says:

    This doing, in an attempt to curve people’s opinions, right or wrong, for what they will say or not say, in order to fit them in a political mold is nothing short of Nazi Germany or Communist China. It is a violation of personhood, the very essence of civilization.

    • sonicsinfonia says:

      So you expect him to say – “Yes, I take Putin’s money, it’s how my orchestra is paid but I decry what he is doing”?

  • Em says:

    Is it a lost that C. won t be there?
    I mean musically, because morality for sure it isn t.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    . . . and I refuse to buy a Currentzis CD, or a ticket to anything he conducts.

  • Matthias says:

    Currentzis has had more than a year to figure this situation out for himself and his musicians. Yet he has stayed silent and changed almost nothing other than setting up Utopia in order to continue performing in the west.

    It’s no surprise that Naske’s sympathies (and mine) for him have worn thin. Can the critical commentators here explain why, at this point, we should treat Currentzis differently than Böhm, Furtwängler, Karajan etc.? They all faced relatively minor consequences, much like Currentzis now.

    • Clara Schumann says:

      High Art must be above politics and the popular opinions of the times. It is absurd to expect those who are not extremely well-versed in both geo-politics/military tactics and world history to even begin to comprehend what is happening in a conflict which can literally end the world. War is evil, violence, especially state-sponsored violence, is the most evil act. However, many, many countries are actively involved in the most vicious crimes against humanity and nary a word is spoken. Politics are utterly ruining arts and culture. Let musicians play, let dancers dance, let painters paint.

  • Brettermeier says:

    I really do wonder how many of these Putin apologists here are Kremlin-funded propaganda accounts.

  • Simpson says:

    And how is his (non-Russian) orchestra funded? New funding sources for orchestras don’t just miraculously present themselves. Following the (possibly obscure) money trail might be an interesting exercise.

  • Tamino says:

    There are always two perspectives.
    There is a legal reality, and there are moral opinions.
    Moral opinions are fluid and modulated by the current events.
    Legal realities are to the contrary rather solid.
    Is it legal, to force anybody to voice “vows of loyalty” to a certain flag, as long as he is not a combatant in a war?

    The only relevant question IMO in TC’s case is: does he still benfit from money from Russian government sources?
    Anything else is blurry virtue signaling and “tyranny of the masses”.

  • Ari Bocian says:

    Silence is a form of acquiescence or consent. It also implies neutrality. By being silent, Currentzis is either supporting Putin while lacking the courage to say so out loud, or he views both sides (the tormentor and the tormented) as somehow being equal, which is even worse.

  • Harry Collier says:

    Tough being a musician in the modern climate. Not only do you have to be supreme at conducting / playing the piano or the violin, but you also have to voice the “correct” opinions on politics, homosexuality, vegans, climate “crisis”, Chinese and Cuban “aggression”, and so on. I suspect many of the opinions of Bach, Mozart, Wagner and Schubert were not “correct” for the modern world.

    • Clara Schumann says:

      I am a lesbian vegan and I concur. My personal orientation and ethical choices with regard to diet/lifestyle is very important to me personally. However, I hold The Arts high above all else and believe it should not be marred by personal views nor political machinations. Why? Because the classical arts in each region of the world is the culmination of the highest aspirations of all of the people who have ever lived in the region. They have developed their arts and culture to pass along wisdom, love, and beauty to descendants. It must not be subject to a “loyalty test.”

  • Gustavo says:

    Take him to the salt mines instead of Salzburg.

  • Peter J. Sandys says:

    In what kind of world we are forced, if not deserved, to live today?

  • Disinterested says:

    Why is anyone interested Currentzis? He strikes me as marketing and hype only.

  • Edgar says:

    The delicious irony here is that no one gives a toss about what people in the classical music business think about international politics, except people in the classical music business.

  • Clara Schumann says:

    This is outrageous. Geo-politics are deep and vast to the point where even experts in the field are often flummoxed and know that SILENCE IS GOLDEN until the full measure of a massive and possibly world-ending situation can be fully grasped. Artists and Athletes have NO BUSINESS sticking their oars into the poisonous waters of global military conflicts.

  • Mark says:

    Okay so this is getting a bit ridiculous at this point.
    So, we think that Russia is the fascist regime that forces people to make political statements; and yet for some reason Russia is not forcing Currentzis to say anything, and the west is and very actively, blackmailing him financially and harming his art.
    So, the question is, who really are the fascists here?