Valery Gergiev, a Russian conductor and a prominent supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was sacked Tuesday from his position as principal conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra after he refused to denounce Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, announced his decision in a press release saying that terminating Mr. Gergiev’s contract was the only option available.
Gergiev’s sudden dismissal, three years before his contract expired, was the biggest setback yet for the train conductor, who had been the target of widespread anger and condemnation in recent days for his long record of support for Mr. Putin and his policies.
The city said Mr. Gergiev, who has served as district commander since 2015, had failed to respond to a demand on Friday by Mr. Reiter to condemn Mr. Putin’s “brutal war of aggression” by Monday or to dismiss him from office. .
The press release stated that “with immediate effect, there will be no further concerts by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra” under the direction of Mr. Gergiev.
“I would have expected him to reconsider and revise his very positive assessment of the Russian leader. He did not,” Mr. Reiter said in his statement. The statement added that termination is the only option.
Mr. Gergiev did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
The conductor, one of Russia’s most prominent cultural ambassadors, has been losing concerts and touring around the world since Mr Putin’s invasion began on Thursday, prompting a long list of performing arts institutions to cut ties with him. But the loss of his leading position at the head of a major European orchestra suggests more serious repercussions for his international career.
It’s an astonishing turnaround for Mr. Gergiev, whose busy schedule and regular associations with many of the world’s leading concert halls and operas have led Bachtrack, which compiles statistics on classical music performances, to his worldwide reputation. busiest conductor In the recent several seasons.
Mr. Gergiev is a prominent supporter of Mr. Putin, supports his re-election and has appeared at concerts in Russia and abroad to promote his policies. The two have known each other since the early 1990s, when Putin was in charge in Saint Petersburg and Mr. Gergiev was beginning his tenure as leader of the Mariinsky, then called Kirov.
Mr. Putin played an important role in Mr. Gergiev’s success, providing funding for the Mariinsky Theatre, where Mr. Gergiev serves as General Manager and Artistic Director.
His international engagements began drying up last week, when Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Philharmonic I dropped it From a series of shows. On Sunday, Gergiev’s manager announced that he was ending his relationship with his client.
Director, Markus Felsner, said in a statement that it had become impossible to defend Mr. Gergiev, who described him as “one of the greatest bandleaders of all time, a visionary artist loved and admired by so many of us, who would not, or could not end his support.” A longtime proclaimer of a regime that came to commit such crimes.”
Understand the Russian attack on Ukraine
What is the origin of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine from the inside its natural sphere of influenceHe has been exasperated by Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the possibility of the country joining NATO or the European Union. While Ukraine is not part of either, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
On Monday, the fallout continued with Switzerland’s Verbier Festival say I have requested and accepted the resignation of Mr. Gergiev as Director of Music for the Festival Orchestra. (The festival has also said it will ban other artists who have shown support for Mr Putin’s actions, and that it will return donations from individuals under sanction by Western governments.)
Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland, where Mr. Gergiev also served as Honorary Chair He said Monday that he resigned after being asked to do so. The Philharmonie de Paris, France’s performing arts complex, has announced the cancellation of two April concerts with Mr. Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra. The Lucerne Festival in Switzerland He said Two shows in August with Mr. Gergiev and Mariinsky were canceled.
“In light of Russia’s acts of war that violate international law, we are sending a clear signal of solidarity with the people of Ukraine,” Michael Hefleger, the festival’s executive and artistic director, said in a statement.
Shortly after the mayor of Munich announced his decision on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany – another major concert hall – said it had also canceled Mr Gergiev’s future engagements. Several other institutions have also threatened to cancel reservations with Mr. Gergiev, including the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Milan’s Teatro alla Scala.
Alex Marshall contributed reporting.
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