BERLIN ( Associated Press) — 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.
The Rotterdam Philharmonic in the Netherlands also cut ties with Gergiev, saying “an unbridgeable divide” between the orchestra and conductor on the issue of the Russian invasion became clear after speaking with him.
The announcement ends a close cooperation between the Rotterdam orchestra and Gergiev dating back to 1988 and also halts a Dutch festival that bears his name.
The Verbier Festival in Switzerland said Tuesday that Gergiev resigned as music director at its request.
Gergiev, a friend and supporter of Putin, is the music director of the Mariinsky Theater 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Festival and from the Vienna Philharmonic’s five-concert US tour, and his management company said Sunday it will no longer represent him.
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.
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