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Vladimir Putin Awards Conductor Valery Gergiev Order of Merit

By Sara Schabas on June 3, 2024

Valery Gergiev
Valery Gergiev (Photo: Mil.ru)

On May 30th, the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev received the Kremlin’s Order of Merit for the Fatherland from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gergiev, a favourite of President Putin’s, heads Russia’s Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg as well as the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

The scoop: On May 30th, the Kremlin Press Service reported that conductor Valery Gergiev has been awarded Russia’s Order of Merit for the Fatherland. Gergiev accepted the medal from Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a speech, Gergiev expressed that the strength of the organizations he leads comes from their courage to showcase performers and composers of all nationalities alongside one another.

A bit of context…: The conductor Valery Gergiev is a longtime ally of Vladimir Putin’s. But, since his refusal to denounce the war in Ukraine, Gergiev’s busy performance schedule outside of Russia has come to a grinding halt. But, Putin has rewarded Gergiev’s allegiance by giving him a monopoly as leader of Russia’s major classical music presenting organizations. And, Gergiev isn’t the first conductor to be favoured by a despotic leader. During WWII, the German conductor Wilhem Furtwängler was the de facto chief conductor of the Nazi regime and a favourite of Adolf Hitler’s.

Gergiev claims his orchestra is being courageous by playing Glinka alongside Mozart. However, we at Ludwig Van would prefer to hear the sounds of peace alongside those of Ukrainian composers including Valentin Silvestrov, Ukraine’s most famous composer who now lives in Germany as a refugee, or young contemporary composer Alla Zahaykevych. Check out Silvestrov’s Prayer for Ukraine performed by the Bamberg Symphony in 2022.

Sara Schabas
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