Maestro Valery Gergiev (1953- ), musical director of the Mariinsky Theatre of St Petersburg and the London Symphony Orchestra. For him, it was personal… Maestro Gergiev is Ossetian, a member of a nationality slated for extermination by Mikhail Saakashvili and his foreign backers.
“If one has to name a conductor that has the status of living legend, then, one has to name the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev”. A foreign critic wrote that concerning the distinguished director of St Petersburg’s famous Mariinsky Theatre. In the normal course of events, Valery Gergiev would be a logical challenger for the title of “Person of the Year”. But, one concert especially spotlighted this eminent musician and human being and highlighted his sense of civic consciousness. On 21 August, in the still-smoking ruins of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, after its shelling by Georgian invaders, Maestro Gergiev lead the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre in a concert on the main square, under the open sky. It was a requiem concert dedicated to victims of the Georgian aggression in South Ossetia, which was broadcast by many TV channels. Turning from the improvised stage to face the audience, Valery Gergiev then said, “The main thing is that we should tell the entire world what happened here on the night of 7/8 August, when the Georgian aggressors shelled a sleeping city. Furthermore, if it were not for the aid given by Greater Russia, there would have been even more victims. Those who had hoped that their actions would go unpunished and unnoticed, well, they miscalculated”.
Valery Gergiev is unquestionably a man of integrity and impeccable character, but, he was criticised unfairly by the foreign media, which tried to accuse Russia of an act of aggression against Georgia, they tried to portray it as an attempt to seize a smaller country. Gradually, many people opened their eyes and started to see the truth. In a special interview with Voice of Russia, Maestro Gergiev said, “The concert in Tskhinvali was a piece of truth that the world refused to recognise at first. It was not an accusation of Georgia and the Georgian people, but, it was a protest against the merciless killing of innocent civilians, including children, all of which I saw with my own eyes. Today, it is my sincere desire that we would be able to act in such a way that there shall be no more occasions for similar memorial concerts”.
The world-wide popularity of Valery Gergiev borders on that of popular rock stars. This year, his name is again on the list of nominees for the prestigious Grammy music award, for his recording of Tchaikovsky’s opera Yevgeni Onegin with the Metropolitan Opera of New York. Maestro Gergiev is the director of two orchestras, both of which are considered amongst the twenty best symphonic ensembles in the world, the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has an entry in the Encyclopaedia Luchshie Lyudi Rossii (The Best People of Russia). Moreover, just the other day, on 13 December, the musical and public activity of Maestro Gergiev was honoured by an international award from the St Andrew the First-Called Foundation. The name of Valery Gergiev is a symbol of today’s Russia, which has allowed this musician to develop his talent to the fullest. This most-talented cosmopolitan musician, who is at home throughout the world, also spreads Russian culture as far as he can, generating ever-newer and greater interest in Russia and its fine arts.
15 December 2008
Voice of Russia World Service