Valery Gergiev, an ally of Putin, fired as a conductor in Munich

Valery Gergiev, the star Russian maestro and prominent supporter of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, was dismissed from his position as conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra on Tuesday after he refused to speak out against the invasion of the Ukraine by Mr. Putin.

Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, announced his decision in a press release stating that terminating Mr Gergiev’s contract was the only option available.

Mr Gergiev’s abrupt dismissal, three years before his contract expires, was the biggest setback for the conductor, who has been the target of widespread anger and condemnation in recent days for its long history of supporting Mr. Putin and his Strategies.

The city said Mr Gergiev, who had served as conductor since 2015, did not respond to a request from Mr Reiter on Friday asking him to condemn Mr M’s ‘brutal war of aggression’. Putin by Monday or to be fired. .

The press release states that “with immediate effect, there will be no more concerts by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra” under the direction of Mr. Gergiev.

Mr. Reiter said in his statement that “I would have expected him to reconsider and revise his very positive assessment of the Russian leader. He did not do it. Termination was the only option, the statement added.

Mr Gergiev, one of Russia’s most prominent cultural ambassadors, has faced the loss of a number of concerts and tours around the world since Mr Putin’s invasion began on Thursday, prompting a long list of performing arts institutions to sever ties with him. But the loss of his leading position at the head of a major European orchestra suggested far more serious ramifications for his international career.

It’s a stunning turnaround for Mr Gergiev, whose busy schedule and regular engagements with many of the world’s leading concert halls and opera houses have led the Bachtrack website, which collects music performance statistics classical, to proclaim him the busiest conductor in the world in the last several seasons.

Mr Gergiev is a prominent supporter of Mr Putin, endorsing his re-election and performing at concerts in Russia and abroad to promote his policies. The two have known each other since the early 1990s, when Mr. Putin was a civil servant in St. Petersburg and Mr. Gergiev began his tenure as head of the Mariinsky, then called the Kirov.

Mr. Putin played a significant role in Mr. Gergiev’s success, funding the Mariinsky Theater, where Mr. Gergiev serves as general and artistic director.

His international commitments began to dry up last week when Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra pulled him from a series of performances. On Sunday, Mr Gergiev’s manager announced he was ending his relationship with his client.

Director Marcus Felsner said in a statement that it had become impossible to defend Mr Gergiev, whom he described as “one of the greatest conductors of all time, a beloved visionary artist and admired by many of us, who will not, or cannot, publicly end their longstanding support for a regime that has come to commit such crimes.

On Monday, the fallout continued, with the Verbier Festival in Switzerland saying it had requested and accepted the resignation of Mr Gergiev as musical director of the festival orchestra. (The festival also said it would ban other artists who had shown support for Mr. Putin’s actions and would return individual donations under sanctions from Western governments.)

The Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland, where Mr Gergiev served as honorary president, also said on Monday he had resigned from his post after being asked to do so. The Philharmonie de Paris, a performing arts complex in France, announced that it was canceling two concerts in April with Mr. Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra. And the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland announced that it was canceling two performances in August with Mr. Gergiev and the Mariinsky.

“Given Russia’s acts of war in violation of international law, we send a clear signal of solidarity to the Ukrainian people,” Michael Haefliger, the festival’s executive and artistic director, said in a statement.

Several other institutions have threatened to cancel Mr Gergiev’s engagements unless he condemns the attack on Ukraine, including the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Teatro alla Scala and the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie.

Comments are closed.