Valery Gergiev has been fired as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic because of his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and for not rejecting the invasion of Ukraine, the German city’s mayor said Tuesday.
Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter announced the decision after Gergiev didn’t respond to Reiter’s demand that the 68-year-old Russian conductor change course. “I had expected him to rethink and revise his very positive assessment of the Russian leader,” Reiter said. “After this didn’t occur, the only option is the immediate severance of ties.”
Gergiev has been Munich’s chief conductor since the 2015-16 season. A day earlier, the Verbier Festival said Gergiev resigned as music director at its request. Gergiev succeeded Charles Dutoit as festival director in 2018. This year’s festival is scheduled from July 15-31. Verbier said Monday it will return “donations from any individual sanctioned by a western government” and will exclude “artists who have publicly aligned themselves with the Russian government’s actions.”
Gergiev, a friend and supporter of Putin, is the music director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, and its White Nights Festival. He was already dropped by the Edinburgh International Festival and from the Vienna Philharmonic’s five-concert U.S. tour, and his management company said Sunday it will no longer represent him.
The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra also said it would drop the Russian’s planned festival there this September if he doesn’t stop supporting Putin.
Milan’s Teatro alla Scala said unless Gergiev makes a clear statement in favor of a peaceful resolution in Ukraine, Gergiev wouldn’t be permitted to return to complete his engagement conducting Tchaikovsky’s “The Queen of Spades,” which resumes March 5.