Artistic and 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)
Born on 2nd May 1953 in Moscow.
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 1981-85, 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 Mariinsky Theatre has staged operas including Mozart´s Don Giovanni, Musorgsky´s The Sorochinsky Fair, Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, Verdi´s Otello, Aida, La forza del destino, Don Carlos, Macbeth, Un ballo in maschera and La traviata, Prokofiev´s Fiery Angel, The Gambler, War and Peace, Betrothal in a Monastery and Semyon Kotko, Rimsky-Korsakov´s The Maid of Pskov, Sadko, Kashchei the Immortal and The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maid Fevronia, Shostakovich´s Katerina Ismailova, Strauss´ Salome and Tchaikovsky´s Mazepa, The Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin. 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 Götterdämmerung in the original German, a unique and unprecedented event in Russia.
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), Prokofiev Festivals (1991 and 1992), presenting a wide spectrum of the composer´s works including four opera premieres (War and Peace, Love for Three Oranges, The Gambler and Fiery Angel), several symphonies and cantata-oratory works, and a Rimsky-Korsakov in the 20th Century festival (1994), which greatly influenced world musical culture. 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.
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 Israeli 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 Berliner Philharmoniker, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (the 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.
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.
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.
Valery Gergiev holds the title of People´s Artist of Russia (1996). In the same year, the jury of the International Classical Music Awards conferred upon him the title of Conductor of the Year. He was awarded the State Prize of Russia in 1994 and 1999. In 1998, Philips Electronics awarded Maestro Gergiev a special prize for his outstanding contribution to music, which he donated to the development of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers. In 2000, he was awarded Russia´s prestigious Order of Friendship and Armenia´s Order of St Mesrop Mashtots. Valery 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, he was decorated with the order For Services to the Fatherland, third class, for his contributions to music. 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. In November 2003, Valery Gergiev was presented with the National Pride of Russia award in the category "For an outstanding contribution to cultural development" and Russia´s highest public award For Work and the Fatherland.
In January 2004 he was 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, 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".