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Valery Gergiev

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Valery Gergiev


Valery Gergiev Gergiev confirms move to Munich Philharmonic Valery

Natalya Dzebisova (m. 1999)

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Valery Abisalovich Gergiev, PAR (Russian: Валерий Абисалович Гергиев; [vɐˈlʲerʲɪj ɐbʲɪˈsaləvʲɪtɕ ˈɡʲɛrɡʲɪɪf]; Ossetian: Гергиты Абисалы фырт Валери, Gergity Abisaly Fyrt Valeri; born 2 May 1953) is a Russian conductor and opera company director. He is general director and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre, chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic and artistic director of the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg.


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Early life

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Gergiev, born in Moscow, is the son of Tamara Timofeevna Lagkueva and Abisal Zaurbekovich Gergiev. He and his siblings were raised in Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia in the Caucasus. He had his first piano lessons in secondary school before going on to study at the Leningrad Conservatory from 1972 to 1977. His principal conducting teacher was Ilya Musin (Илья Мусин), one of the greatest conductor-makers in Russian musical history. His sister, Larissa Gergieva, is a pianist and director of the Mariinsky's singers' academy.


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In 1978, he became assistant conductor at the Kirov Opera, now the Mariinsky Opera, under Yuri Temirkanov, where he made his debut conducting Sergei Prokofiev's War and Peace. He was chief conductor of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra from 1981 to 1985 – the year he made his debut in the United Kingdom, along with pianist Evgeny Kissin and violinists Maxim Vengerov and Vadim Repin at the Lichfield Festival.

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In 1991, for the first time, Gergiev conducted a western European opera company with the Bavarian State Opera in a performance of Modest Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov in Munich. In the same year, he made his American début, performing War and Peace with the San Francisco Opera. Since then, he has conducted both operatic and orchestral repertoire across the world. He also participates in numerous music festivals, including the White Nights in St. Petersburg.

He became chief conductor and artistic director of the Mariinsky in 1988, and overall director of the company, appointed by the Russian government, in 1996. In addition to his artistic work with the Mariinsky, Gergiev has worked in fundraising for such projects as the recently built 1100-seat Mariinsky Hall, and intends to renovate the Mariinsky Theatre completely by 2010.

From 1995 to 2008, Gergiev was principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1997, he became principal guest conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. His contract there ran until the 2007–2008 season, and his premieres included a new version of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, revised and reorchestrated by Igor Buketoff in a manner faithful to Mussorgsky's intentions (unlike the Rimsky-Korsakov revision mostly used for many years until the 1960s or 1970s). In 2002, he was featured in one scene in the film Russian Ark, directed by Alexander Sokurov and filmed at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

In 2003, he initiated and conducted at the Mariinsky Theatre the first complete cycle of Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung to be staged in Russia for over 90 years. The production's design and concept reflects many aspects of Ossetian culture. Gergiev conducted this production in Cardiff in 2006 at the Wales Millennium Centre, in Costa Mesa, California in October 2006 in the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and in July 2007 in Lincoln Center, New York City to great acclaim and completely sold-out houses.

In 1988, Gergiev guest-conducted the London Symphony Orchestra for the first time. In his next appearance with the LSO in 2004, he conducted the seven symphonies of Sergei Prokofiev. This engagement led to his appointment in 2005 as the Orchestra's fifteenth principal conductor, succeeding Sir Colin Davis effective 1 January 2007. Gergiev's initial contract with the LSO was for 3 years. His first official concert as principal conductor of the LSO was on 23 January 2007; this was originally scheduled for 13 January, but was postponed due to Gergiev's illness.

In June 2011, Gergiev joined the International Tchaikovsky Competition and introduced reforms to the organisation, which included replacing academic judges with notable performers and introduced an openness to the process, arranging for all performances to be streamed live and free on the internet and for the judges to speak their minds in public as and whenever they wished.

Since 2015, Gergiev is chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic.

On 5 May 2016, Gergiev competed at the Roman Theatre of Palmyra at a concert event called Praying for Palmyra – Music revives ancient ruins. It was devoted to the victims who died while liberating Palmyra from ISIS and should emphasize the state of the ancient city.

Social and political involvement

In April 2007, Gergiev was one of eight conductors of British orchestras to endorse the 10-year classical music outreach manifesto, "Building on Excellence: Orchestras for the 21st century", to increase the presence of classical music in the UK, including giving free entry to all British schoolchildren to a classical music concert.

After the 2004 Beslan school massacre, Gergiev appealed on television for calm and against revenge. He conducted concerts to commemorate the victims of the massacre.

During the 2008 South Ossetia war, Gergiev accused the Georgian government of massacring ethnic Ossetians, triggering the conflict with Russia. He came to Tskhinvali and conducted a concert near the ruined building of the South Ossetian Parliament as tribute to the victims of the war.

Gergiev has been, according to Alex Ross in The New Yorker, "a prominent supporter of the current Russian regime. Last year, in a television ad for Putin's third Presidential campaign, he said, 'One needs to be able to hold oneself presidentially, so that people reckon with the country. I don't know if it's fear? Respect? Reckoning.'"

In December 2012, Gergiev sided with the Putin administration against the members of Russian band Pussy Riot and suggested that their motivation was commercial. He told the British newspaper The Independent, "I don't think this is anything to do with artistic freedom....Why go to the Cathedral of Christ to make a political statement? Why with screaming and dancing? You don’t need to go to a place that is considered sacred by many people." He also said, "I am told by too many people that those girls are potentially a very good business proposition. Suppose that someone created all this in order to produce another touring group earning millions and millions? Anna Netrebko (acclaimed Russian soprano) didn't need to do something like this." In The New Yorker, Alex Ross decried Gergiev's allegation by noting that "One member [of Pussy Riot] has been on a hunger strike in a prison camp."

In New York City in 2013, the LGBT activist group Queer Nation interrupted performances by orchestras conducted by Gergiev at the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall. The activists cited Gergiev's support for Vladimir Putin, whose government had recently enacted a law that bans the distribution of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors, as the reason for their actions. In London, the veteran activist, Peter Tatchell, led anti-Gergiev demonstrations.

In a public statement Gergiev replied, "It is wrong to suggest that I have ever supported anti-gay legislation and in all my work I have upheld equal rights for all people. I am an artist and have for over three decades worked with tens of thousands of people and many of them are indeed my friends." This did not mollify all his critics; the novelist Philip Hensher tweeted: "Gergiev summarised: 'Some of my best friends are gay. I don't support institutional homophobia. I leave that up to my friend Putin.'"

Writing in The Guardian, Mark Brown wrote, "Gergiev's case was not helped by comments he made to the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant on 10 September [2013]: 'In Russia we do everything we can to protect children from paedophiles. This law is not about homosexuality, it targets paedophilia. But I have too busy a schedule to explore this matter in detail.'"

On 26 December 2013, the city of Munich made public a letter from Gergiev assuring them that he fully supports the city's anti-discrimination law and adding, "In my entire professional career as an artist, I have always and everywhere adhered to these principles and will do so in the future...All other allegations hurt me very much."

In March 2014, Gergiev joined a host of other Russian arts and cultural figures in signing an open letter of support for Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and the Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. The letter was posted on the website of Russia's culture ministry on March 12, 2014. In the letter signatories stated that they "firmly state support for the position of the president of the Russian Federation" in the region. However, in September 2015, as he became chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, Gergiev said that he did not really sign the letter to Putin, but only had a phone conversation about it with Vladimir Medinsky. The New York Times reported that Russian artists may have been pushed by the Russian government to endorse the annexation of Crimea. The article specifically mentioned Gergiev, who faced protests in New York City while performing. After Ukrainian public outcry, the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture blacklisted Gergiev from performing in Ukraine.

Personal life

In 1999 Gergiev married the musician Natalya Dzebisova, who is 27 years his junior and a native Ossetian. They have three children together, two boys and a girl. From time to time Gergiev has been reported to be a friend of Vladimir Putin, and they have been said to be godfathers to each other's children. But in a letter to The Daily Telegraph Gergiev rejected this notion. From a past relationship with the language teacher Lena Ostovich, the conductor has another daughter, Natasha.


Gergiev has focused on recording Russian composers' works, both operatic and symphonic, including Mikhail Glinka, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Alexander Borodin, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky and Rodion Shchedrin. Most of his recordings, on the Philips label, are with the Kirov Orchestra, but he has also recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic. A recent undertaking, the complete Prokofiev symphonies, is with the London Symphony Orchestra. He has also recorded the complete symphonies of Gustav Mahler with the London Symphony Orchestra; all were recorded live in concert, issued on the London Symphony Orchestra Live label and made available on digital media. In 2009, Gergiev and the Mariinsky launched a Mariinsky Live record label (being distributed by London Symphony Orchestra Live), with the first two recordings featuring music by Dmitri Shostakovich.

Gergiev's recording of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet with London Symphony Orchestra on LSO live in 2010 was the winner of the Orchestral category and the Disc of the Year of the 2011 BBC Music Magazine Awards.


  • Valery Gergiev in Rehearsal and Performance
  • 60 Minutes: The Wild Man of Music, 2004.
  • Valery Gergiev Conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Prokofiev, Schnittke & Stravinsky, 2003.
  • Verdi: La forza del destino, Marinsky Theatre Orchestra, 1998.
  • Rimsky-Korsakov: Sadko, Kirov Opera, 2006.
  • Puccini: Turandot, Vienna Philharmonic, 2006.
  • Prokofiev: Betrothal in a Monastery, Kirov Opera, 2005.
  • Shostakovich against Stalin, 2005.
  • "All the Russias – a musical journey": a five-part documentary through the tradition and heritage of Russian music.
  • "Gergiev Conducts Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem" Kringelborn, Kwiecien, Swedish Radio Choir, Rotterdam Philharmonic, 2008
  • Tschaikovsky: Eugene Onegin; Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Renee Fleming, Ramon Vargas, Metropolitan Opera, 2007
  • VHS

  • Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov, Kirov Opera, 1993.
  • Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame, Kirov Opera, 1994.
  • Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame, Acts 1 and 2, Kirov Opera, 1992.
  • Mussorgsky: Kovanshchina, Kirov Orchestra, 1994.
  • Prokofiev: Fiery Angel, Polygram Video, 1996.
  • Honours and awards

  • Hero of Labour of the Russian Federation (1 May 2013)
  • Order of Merit for the Fatherland;
  • 3rd class (24 April 2003) – for outstanding contribution to music culture
  • 4th class (2 May 2008) – for outstanding contribution to the development of domestic and world music and theatre, many years of creative activity
  • Order of Friendship (12 April 2000) – for services to the state, many years of fruitful work in the field of culture and art, a great contribution to strengthening friendship and cooperation between nations
  • Medal "In Commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of Saint Petersburg" (2003)
  • Gratitude of the President of the Russian Federation (15 January 2009) – for the concert the Mariinsky Theatre orchestra under the direction of Valery Gergiev in support of victims during the Georgian-Ossetian conflict
  • Medal "For Valiant Labour" (Tatarstan) – for a fruitful cooperation with the Republic of Tatarstan, an active part in national projects in the fields of culture, outstanding contribution to the development of domestic and world music
  • Hero of Labour of the Russian Federation – for particular services to the State and its people. The new honour was created 29 March 2013, and first awarded on 1 May 2013.
  • Foreign awards
  • Order of St. Mashtots (Armenia, 2000)
  • Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (2001)
  • Order "Danaker" (2001, Kyrgyzstan)
  • Medal "Dank" (Kyrgyzstan, 1998)
  • Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion (2005)
  • Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 5th class (Ukraine, 10 May 2006) – a significant personal contribution to the development of cultural ties between Ukraine and Russia, high professionalism and many years of fruitful creative activity
  • Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2001)
  • Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 5th class (Ukraine, 10 May 2006) – a significant personal contribution to the development of cultural ties between Ukraine and Russia, high professionalism and many years of fruitful creative activity
  • Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland (2006)
  • Officer of the Legion of Honour (France, 2007)
  • Order of Arts and Letters (France)
  • Order of the Rising Sun with Golden Rays and Ribbon (Japan, 2006)
  • Order "Uatsamonga" (South Ossetia, 29 January 2009) – for courage and great patriotism, invaluable assistance and support to the people of South Ossetia during the Georgian aggression disaster in August 2008
  • Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan (2011)
  • Silver medal in Valencia (Spain, 2006)
  • Medal Pro Mikkeli (Mikkeli, Finland, 2005)
  • Medal Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (2008, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Gold Medal for Merit to Culture (Gloria Artis) (Poland, 2011)
  • Religious awards
  • Order of Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, 3rd class (Russian Orthodox Church, 2003)
  • Order of St. Vladimir (Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 2001)
  • Medal of St. Sergius of Radonezh, 1st class (Russian Orthodox Church, 2010).
  • Community Awards
  • Commemorative Gold Medal "olive branch with Diamonds" (the Russian-Armenian (Slavic) State University)
  • Titles
  • People's Artist of Russia (20 June 1996) – for the great achievements in art
  • People's Artist of Ukraine (2004)
  • People's Artist of North Ossetia – Alania
  • Honorary citizen of St. Petersburg (2007), Vladikavkaz (2003), Lyon and Toulouse
  • "Conductor of the Year" (1994) awarded by a jury of the international organization International Classical Music Awards
  • UNESCO Artist for Peace (2003)
  • Honorary Doctor of St. Petersburg State University
  • Honorary Professor of Moscow State University (2001)
  • Awards
  • State Prize of the Russian Federation in the field of art and literature in 1993 (7 December 1993) and 1998 (4 June 1999)
  • Prize awarded by the President of the Russian Federation in the field of literature and art in 2001 (30 January 2002)
  • Winner of the country's theatrical prize "Golden Mask" (five times from 1996 to 2000)
  • Winner of the Theatre Award of Saint Petersburg "Gold soffit" (four times; 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2003)
  • Russian opera prize «Casta diva» for the best performance – "Parsifal" (1998)
  • Winner of Tsarskoye Selo Art Prize (1999)
  • Shostakovich Prize (Yuri Bashmet Foundation, 1997)
  • Royal Swedish Academy of Music Polar Music Prize (2005)
  • Herbert von Karajan Prize winner (Baden-Baden, 2006)
  • Laureate of the Foundation of American-Russian Cultural Cooperation (2006)
  • Polar Music Prize (together with Led Zeppelin) (2006)
  • DaCapo KlassiK Award - Conductor of the Year (2014)
  • References

    Valery Gergiev Wikipedia

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