Munich Philharmonic dismisses chief conductor Gergiev for Russia stance

Valery Gergiev, conductor of the Mariinsky orchestra, attends a meeting of the Presidential Council for Culture and Art at the Kremlin in Moscow
Valery Gergiev, conductor of the Mariinsky orchestra, attends a meeting of the Presidential Council for Culture and Art at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool/File Photo

March 1, 2022

BERLIN (Reuters) – The Munich Philharmonic has dismissed chief conductor Valery Gergiev with immediate effect as he did not respond to calls to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the mayor of the southern German city said on Tuesday.

Gergiev, who is seen as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s friend and who conducted an orchestra in the ruins of Syria’s Palmyra in 2016 to celebrate Russia’s victory there, was also shunned by La Scala and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra on Monday.

Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter had asked Gergiev to “clearly and unequivocally distance himself from the brutal war of aggression that Putin is waging against Ukraine” in a letter, but the conductor did not respond, Reiter said in a statement.

“I would have expected him to reconsider and revise his very positive assessment of the Russian ruler. He did not do that,” the mayor said.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Writing by Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by Miranda Murray)