Valery Gergiev

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About Valery Gergiev

Until the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the career of the conductor Valery Gergiev (born in Moscow in 1953) had been a largely uninterrupted ascent to artistic eminence. A pupil of the legendary teacher Ilya Musin, Gergiev was assistant conductor at the prestigious Kirov (now Mariinsky) Opera in Saint Petersburg by his mid-twenties. A decade later he was running the company, and made a string of critically acclaimed recordings of its productions—Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov (1873) and Prokofiev’s War and Peace (1946) among them—for the Philips label. These attracted widespread attention beyond Russia, establishing Gergiev’s reputation as a red-blooded interpreter of his country’s music. Outside opera, he was increasingly in demand for symphonic concerts. Gergiev forged a particularly close relationship with the London Symphony Orchestra, becoming principal conductor in 2007. While critics occasionally accused him of being slapdash and skimming over the finer details of an interpretation, his performances of symphonies by Prokofiev, Mahler, and Tchaikovsky confirmed him as a generally electrifying presence. In 2022, his refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine provoked his departure from the Munich Philharmonic, where he was music director, and a slew of other cancellations. He remains artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre.

Moscow, Russia
May 2, 1953
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