Artistic & General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre

"Gergiev carries a disproportionate share of the music world on his shoulders. He is something of a national hero in Russia for having kept alive the Mariinsky Theatre after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Under his leadership, the Mariinsky has become one of the most celebrated - and recorded - opera companies in the world."
The New Yorker (April 1998)

"We have all marvel Valery Gergiev at his truly inspirational music-making, which, alongside his totally unbelievable energy, passion for music, and great qualities of friendship and idealism, have forged him a unique place in the world of music."
The Guardian (24 May 2005)

Graduated in symphony conducting from the Leningrad Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire (class of Professor Musin). At age 23, he won the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition in Berlin and, while still a student at the Conservatoire, was invited to join the Kirov Theatre.

Conducted at the Kirov Theatre from 1977. From 1981–1985, he was also Principal Guest Conductor with the State Symphony Orchestra of Armenia.

At the age of 35, Valery Gergiev was appointed Artistic Director of the Opera Company and, from 1996, has been Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre.

Throughout his years of dedication to the theatre, the Maestro´s main aim has always been to make the Mariinsky Opera Company the best in the world. Over the last fifteen years, the repertoire has undergone unprecedented development. The return of Wagner´s operas Lohengrin, Parsifal and Der Fliegende Holländer to the St Petersburg stage are among some of the highlights, to say nothing of the production of the entire Ring des Nibelungen tetralogy of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Die Götterdämmerung in the original German, a unique and unprecedented event in Russia. The European premiere of the tetralogy in Baden-Baden (2004) was viewed by German media as a truly historic event in music. In June 2005 Der Ring des Nibelungen was performed in Moscow and subsequently in South Korea and Japan. In the 2006-2007 season Wagner´s tetralogy was performed in the USA, the UK and Spain.

Valery Gergiev is the founder and artistic director of many international music festivals including For Peace in the Caucasus (Vladikavkaz), the Mikkeli Festival (Finland), the Red Sea Festival (Eilat), the Kirov Philharmonic (London), the Rotterdam Philharmonic-Gergiev Festival (the Netherlands) and the Moscow Easter Festival. He organised and ran a Musorgsky Festival (1988), a Prokofiev Festival (1991, 1992), and a Rimsky-Korsakov in the 20th Century festival (1994). Lastly, of course, Valery Gergiev is also the inspiration and energy behind St Petersburg´s annual Stars of the White Nights festival, which he established in 1993.

In the 2004–2005 season, Valery Gergiev initiated a world-wide series of charity concerts entitled Beslan. Music for Life. Under the Maestro´s direction, concerts were held in New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, Rome and Moscow. Maestro Gergiev conducted the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra in a requiem concert in front of the ruined Government House of South Ossetia.

It was Valery Gergiev who first envisaged artistic co-operation between the Mariinsky Theatre and the world´s leading opera houses, among them the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, the Teatro Carlo Felice, the San Francisco Opera, La Scala, the New Israel Opera and the Théâtre du Châtelet.

Valery Gergiev is one of the finest conductors of our time. He works with such renowned ensembles as the Wiener Philharmoniker, Berliner Philharmoniker, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (UK), L´Orchestre National de France, Swedish Radio Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of San Francisco, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Minnesota, Montreal and Birmingham. He has been Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic since 1995 and of the Metropolitan Opera from 1997 to 2002. On 1 January 2007 Valery Gergiev was appointed Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Under Valery Gergiev´s management, the Mariinsky Theatre has toured extensively, performing to great acclaim in countries all over Europe, in North and South America, China, Japan and Australia. The Mariinsky Theatre´s summer tours to London have long since become a tradition.

Special mention must be made of the now long established partnership between Maestro Gergiev and Philips, which has resulted in the production of over thirty compact disc recordings. Together with the Mariinsky Theatre and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestras, he has conducted recordings of operas, ballets and concert programmes from his vast repertoire which includes works by Russian and non-Russian composers alike, among them Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Musorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Bizet, Berlioz, Verdi, Brahms and Bruckner.

Maestro Gergiev´s artistic achievements have brought him many awards and titles. He holds the titles of Honoured Worker for the Arts of Russia (1983) and People´s Artist of Russia (1996).

He was awarded the State Prize of Russia in 1994 and 1999. In 1994 the jury of the International Classical Music Awards conferred upon him the title of Conductor of the Year. As Best Conductor, he was awarded Russia´s most prestigious theatre prize the Golden Mask (1996 –2000) and St Petersburg´s most prestigious theatre prize the Golden Sofit in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2003. In 1998, Philips Electronics awarded him a special prize for his outstanding contribution to music, which he donated to the development of the Mariinsky Theatre Academy of Young Singers. In 2000, Valery Gergiev was made a full member of the International Academy of Arts. In the same year, he was awarded the highest prizes of Russia (the Order of Friendship) and Armenia (the Order of St Mesrop Mashtots). Maestro Gergiev has also been decorated with Germany´s Bundesverdienstkreuz (first class), Italy´s Grand Ufficiale al Merito and France´s L´Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2002, he received the Russian Presidential Prize for his outstanding contribution to arts and sciences. In March 2003, he was made an Artist of the World by UNESCO. In April 2003, was decorated with the order For Services to the Fatherland, third class. In June 2003, the Patriarch of All Russia Alexei II awarded Valery Gergiev the Order of St Prince Daniil of Moscow of the Russian Orthodox Church, third class, for participating in charitable and cultural programmes of the Russian Orthodox Church. Awarded the medal In Commemoration of the Tercentenary of St Petersburg. Recipient of the award For an outstanding contribution to cultural development and Russia´s highest public award For Work and the Fatherland. Valery Gergiev has been awarded the Crystal Prize for his dedication to the arts and his contribution to cultural dialogue; the prize was presented by the World Economic Forum in Davos. In April 2004, Valery Gergiev was made a People´s Artist of Ukraine, the country´s highest State award, in recognition of his "important contribution to the development of cultural relations between Ukraine and Russia and his many years of fruitful activity". Valery Gergiev has also been awarded the Order of Danaker, presented by the Government of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. In September 2005 Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands made Valery Gergiev a Knight of the Order of the Dutch Lion. As the royal decree proclaimed, the Russian musician received this eminent Dutch award for his exceptional character, international importance and his worldwide activities in music. In November 2005 Valery Gergiev has been awarded the Polar Music Prize of the Swedish Royal Academy of Music for his "unique, electrifying musicianship, which becomes ever richer with time and makes us re-examine our attitudes to a great tradition". In February 2006 he was awarded the Herbert von Karajan Prize, which was founded by the Baden-Baden Music Festival. In March 2006 in Washington, Valery Gergiev was awarded a prize by the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation for his outstanding contribution to the development of cultural relations between Russia and the USA. In November 2006, Valery Gergiev received Japan´s highest award – the Order of the Rising Sun – as well as the highest award of Valencia – the Silver Medal. In April 2007 he was made an Honorary Officer of the Legion d´Honneur, France´s highest State award. In May 2007 Valery Gergiev was awarded the Académie du disque lyrique prize for the best recording of a Russian opera as well as the title of Honorary Citizen of St Petersburg. In May 2008 for his huge contribution to the development of Russian and international music and theatre, Valery Gergiev was awarded the Order "For Services to the Fatherland", fourth class, and the same year he was presented with the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (2008, Rotterdam, the Netherlands).
In December 2008 the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under Valery Gergiev was included in the list of the top twenty ensembles of the world as published in the December issue of Gramophone magazine. Of the three Russian orchestras on the list, the Mariinsky Orchestra was rated number one.

This biography was most recently edited by...
steven - 13 Feb 2010