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Conductor’s Biography

Valery Gergiev

Valery Gergiev is Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, Principal Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Principal Guest Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. He is Founder and Artistic Director of the Gergiev Rotterdam Festival; the Mikkeli International Festival, the Moscow Easter Festival and the Stars of the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg.

Valery Gergiev’s inspired leadership as Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre has brought universal acclaim to this legendary institution. With the Kirov Opera, Ballet and Orchestra, Valery Gergiev has toured in 45 countries including extensive tours throughout North America, South America, Europe, China, Japan, Australia, Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

Born in Moscow to Ossetian parents, Gergiev studied conducting with Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory. At age 24, he was the winner of the Herbert von Karajan Conductors’ Competition in Berlin. He made his Kirov Opera debut one year later in 1978 conducting Prokofiev’s War and Peace and was appointed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor in 1988.

In 2003 he celebrated his 25th anniversary with the Mariinsky Theatre, planned and led a considerable portion of St Petersburg’s 300th anniversary celebration, conducted the globally televised anniversary gala attended by 50 heads of state, and opened the Carnegie Hall season with the Kirov Orchestra, the first Russian conductor to do so since Tchaikovsky conducted the first-ever concert in Carnegie Hall.

That same autumn The Wall Street Journal observed, ‘The Mariinsky Theatre’s artistic agenda under Mr Gergiev’s leadership has burgeoned into a diplomatic and ultimately a broadly humanistic one, on a global scale not even the few classical musicians of comparable vision approach.’

Maestro Gergiev is the recipient of the Dmitry Shostakovich Award, the Golden Mask Award, the People’s Artist of Russia, and the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award. He is also the 2006 winner of the Karajan Prize (Germany) and the Polar Prize (Sweden) for outstanding international performance and leadership.

He has recorded exclusively for Decca (Universal Classics), but appears also on Philips and DG labels. His vast discography includes many Russian operas (introduced to international audiences by his initiative), a cycle of Shostakovich War Symphonies (Nos 4–9), a cycle of Prokofiev symphonies with the LSO and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic among many others.

Visit lso.co.uk for details of Gergiev’s Mahler cycle with the LSO at the Barbican in 2007/08.

© Alberto Venzago

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