August 27, 2008

The great Russian conductor Valery Gergiev who works in London has travelled to Tskhinvali and given a concert among the ruins of that city. NATO lay behind Saakashvili in the attack just past midnight on 7 to 8 of August, an attack which has killed very many innocent civilians, including the complete destruction of the Jewish Quarter.

It is a great thing which Gergiev has done. The responses from the British public and presumably many music lovers is not half bad either.

The theme was Russia’s victory over Georgia; the spirit was Second World War defiance; the music was from Leningrad — and the conductor was from London.

Surrounded by soldiers and barbed wire, hundreds crowded into the centre of Tskhinvali to see Valery Gergiev conduct the Maryinsky Orchestra from St Petersburg as Russia staged a victory concert amid the ruins of the capital of South Ossetia.

From the mournful first bars of Shostakovitch’s Symphony No 7 (known as the Leningrad) in the makeshift arena, it was clear that the theme of the night was a stirring appeal to patriotism and the memories of Russian suffering during the Second World War.

Gergiev is an Ossetian, and grew up in North Ossetia. He is also a close friend of Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister. The two men are godfathers to each other’s children.

On Wednesday evening he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, of which he is principal conductor, in Tchaikovsky’s ballet score The Sleeping Beauty at the Albert Hall in London. By last night he was in South Ossetia.

The concert, organised by the Kremlin, was broadcast live on television across Russia. The orchestra played the Shostakovitch and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony Pathétique on a stage erected next to the bombed-out shell of Tskhinvali’s local administration.

Candles covered the steps leading up to the orchestra in memory of the victims of the conflict. Soldiers waved Russian and South Ossetian flags, many standing on armoured personnel carriers to see the concert. People lit candles as soon as the music began and soldiers handed out ribbons merging the tricolours of the two flags.

Gergiev arrived on stage with a group of children and said that he had come to Tskhinvali “to see with my own eyes the horrible destruction of the city”. He told the audience that Tskhinvali reminded him of pictures of Stalingrad, the city where Soviet troops began to turn back the invading Nazi army. He flatly blamed Georgia for the destruction and repeated earlier Russian claims that 2,000 people had died, which led the Kremlin to accuse Georgia of genocide.

Russian prosecutors announced a sharply reduced figure on Wednesday, saying that the bodies of 133 civilians had been found in South Ossetia, while Georgia placed the number of its dead in the conflict at 215.

Gergiev, addressing the crowd in Russian and in English, said: “It was a huge act of aggression on the part of the Georgian Army . . . I think Tskhinvali can be called a hero city, we know how much people suffered here.

“If it wasn’t for the help of the Russian Army here, there would be thousands and thousands more victims. I am very grateful as an Ossetian to my country, Great Russia, for this help.”

Earlier the President of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity, addressed a crowd in the city’s main Theatre Square. “This is the last tragedy on the land of South Ossetia. I have already prepared an appeal to the President of Russia and the Government of Russia to recognise the independence of the Republic of South Ossetia,” he said.

The announcement means that both of Georgia’s breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, are now seeking Russian recognition. Mr Kokoity blamed the West for the conflict, saying: “This war was prepared not only in Tbilisi, but also in the United States and Ukraine.

“We have never fought and will never fight against the people of Georgia. We offer them the hand of friendship and to all those who want to live in peace in the Caucasus, which is our common home. I am convinced that we will all meet here again soon to celebrate the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia . . . The Caucasus is a Russian region and we will never surrender it to such adventurists as [Mikhail] Saakashvili [the Georgian President] and [Condoleezza] Rice [the US Secretary of State].”

From the very beginning I want to let everybody know Gergiev’s words before he started to conduct:
the music will sound in a remembrance of every one who suffered or died that days – both ossetian and georgian – it’s a tragedy for ordinary people no matter of nationalities.
Well done, Valery!

Vassa, Moscow, Russia

A sad contrast to the West-East divan orchestra that recently appeared at the Proms under Barenboim. Should musicians really celebrate ethnic cleansing operations?

C Stembridge, innsbruck, Austria

I admire Gergiev for having the guts to go to a war-torn city, bring an orchestra with him, and play music of hope and defiance in the view of the entire world. Various Williams from El Paso, and Tysons from San Francisco can unclebite, but they don’t have the guts Gergiev has. And they know it.

James Atwill, Ottawa, Canada

He certainly knew that what he has done will make his life in London much harder… But he still did what his heart said.

I hope he will be OK, god always help Russians when they do the right thing.

Alexander, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Saakashvili must have negotiated all the points he is interested but not kill the civil people! The whole town is ruined! The music was great and reflected the emotions all the people feel these days! Those who blaim Russia, watch the real films about this war and have a heart to sympathize!

Annie, Ekaterinburg, Russia

I am from Ossetia (North). And we cannot accept the way the western society interpreted all these events. I think soviet propaganda is nothing to compare with your brainwashing mashines. You critisize Gergiev, OK! But with this concert he managed to devaluate at least some of your ‘free press’ lies

Elina, Vladikavkaz, Russia, Ossetia

Dorian, i think a man has to be ashamed for NOT supporting his people and his native land when they face disaster . I thought this is something natural, natural for all people able to sympathize.

Anna, St.Petersburg, Russia

Valery Gergiev shoud feel a ashamed for what he has done. But we should all get used to the idea that a great artist should not necessarily be a great man. His fame has already made him a citizen of the world not only russian and he should act like one. He hasen’t percived the very meaning of music

Dorian, Tirana, Albania

“Russian prosecutors announced… bodies of 133 civilians had been found in South Ossetia…” statement is incomplete and misleading. It was clearly said during press-conference that they haven’t even started exhuming and id-ing bodies buried in people’s gardens and under rubbles of ~700 houses.

IL, Delgany, Ireland

Gergiev expressed his and the Ossetians’ attitude: they know Georgia is a threat and they see Russia as the guarantor of survival. Those westerners that criticize him – do you think you are better qualified to judge? Anything pro-Russian is folly, anti-Russian – laudable? Talk about paranoia…

Gramps, London,

dear Nodar from London.
Just FYI – He was in Beslan. He did similar concert there.

romane, Tallinn, Estonia

Gergiev gave his answer to the Geaorgian agression! The assasigns of Saakashvilly destroyed 2000 civilians using the arms of mass destruction. These people were not guily in anything!!!! The Russian Army was defending the people and was not the first to start the war! Remember of it!

Ilya, Moscow,

It appears that every aspect of Russia’s Georgian ‘adventure’ was orchestrated.

daibhidh, Los Angeles,

Where was this grate conductor until now? Maybe he really could help both sides to re-conciliate. He also could come to Beslan after tragedy or in Grozni. But it would upset his dear friend Putin. He is not just normal conductor he is soviet one.

Nodar, London, UK

Everyone needs to read “New Lies for Old” by Anatoliy Golitsyn. Those do will see with new eyes what the Russians are up to. Those in Russian leadership position are truly evil, and are probably the best in the world at “disinformation”. They lie, and don’t even blink.

William, El Paso, TX, USA

To Tyson from San Fran:
Great blurb on “Ra-ra! We Americans police the world!” As far as ‘playing in the majors’, the Vietnamese showed you how it’s done a long time ago.

Scott, Vancouver, Canada

I, to be honest, sympathize with the Russian. Still ther tactics are a little harsh. I like the Russian culture and Putin.

I would tell the Russians for now pull back and read the book on international law.

Oil is a dinosaur. Don’t show your hand just yet.

Hold them partner. Better days.

UCF, Orlando, USA

propaganda garbage. I I reading this right. Does the cunductor live in England. If so, why? shouldn’t he be in his beloved Russia.

Chris, PCB, US

Russia has done something great. Shame on the U.S. leadership and corporate biased media for not informing their citizens of the true cause of this conflict.

I hope more U.S. citizens, like myself, will further investigate this issue and see the lies which our major media outlets are feeding us.

Isaac, Phoenix, U.S.

I very much enjoyed Maestro Geregiev’s appearances in New York but would as someone with clear memories of the Cold War, I’d think twice before purchasing tickets to any of his venues in the future.

Lois Rogers, Trenton, New Jersey, USA

Hi is Ossetian and can’t hold a neutral/unbiased view of the conflict. If he wants to conduct a concert in his home town, he has a right to do so. Gergiev is trying to help people (his people) who lost their loved ones. I doubt he will be on guard duty at the check points or leading tanks to Tbilisi

John M, Boston, US

To Tyson: Come, baby, come! I sincerely hope that you will never see war by your own eyes. Bla-bla-bla is so safe. Even safer than killing civilians in Belgrade and Tskhinvali.

Well done, Valery! I admire your bravery and talant.

John, St-Petersburg,

If we truly believe in democracy then we should allow Ossetia to decide for themselves whether they want to join Nato or Russia.

adam russell, sierra vista, usa

I am deeply moved by this concerto among ruins of Ossetian capital. This is a good reminder to Georgia about what could happens with any invader, whether it is Hitler or Saakashvili.

Avigdor Lehigh , Philadelphia, PA, USA

Perhaps the Georgians should invite the LENINGRAD COWBOYS for a rousing rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama,” this time using Georgian Personnel rather than the Red Army Choir. -S-

Scott L. Salit, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Hey Oleg go drink a bottle of vodka. The USSR is gone and America will never let it return. It sounds like we are going to let your homeland slide on this go around but step over the line again and your army will know what it is like to play in the majors.

Tyson, San Francisco, USA!

I wonder if any other former Soviet slave states have requests they’d like to make?Yes ,you in the 3rd row.My name is Czechoslovakia -would you play “Spetznaz are fallin on my head ” by the 103rd Soviet Guards Airborne Division ? Thank you ever so much !

John Patrick, Houston, USA

The Shostakovich Symphonies One and Nine are in fact “festive”. The former was a work by a composer just starting out and demonstrating his talent…the latter, a wry piece contradicting the historical precedent that all Ninth symphonies had to be profound a la Beethoven.

Laurence Glavin, Methuen, MA, U.S.A.

David, I suppose that you support the Argentinian claims that the Falklands really belong to them!

Dick, Durham, UK

The choice of music was just great: Shostakovich performed his symphony in Leningrad at a time when the Nazis were besieging the city during the WWII. It was clear that this time it was the Georgians who were cast in the role of Nazis following their brief assault on Tskhinvali earlier this month.

John, Boston, USA

Violins in the streets

Bill , Arnold, USA

Saw him speak on the BBC claiming thousands of Ossetians had been killed. It blew me away when I read he is godfather to Putin’s children. Great to see the LSO leading the new tough UK stance on Russian aggression. Do you think this ‘ambassador for peace’ could spare a song for the Georgians

Ed, London, UK

Calvin , Milwaukee, USA
Please read the news. USA recognised Kosovo’s independence. The same should be done for Abhazia and South Ossetia. Unless your country operates with double-standards, which was noted by the whole world. USA can’t fool everybody all the time and will pay for it in the end.

Oleg, Toronto, Canada

The Georgian nation as nation would stop its existence in 17th century after Persia killed all georgian people. The remaining 40K people ask Russia to help with persia and Russia helped. Now georgians count for 4 mln. people.

Dmitri, Moscow, Russia

To Oleg in Toronto.
Your viewpoint is interesting. If I understand it, Kosovo is historically part of Serbia, therefore, it is proper for Russia to take Ossetia from Georgia. Is this taught in the Putin school of logic?

Calvin , Milwaukee, USA

This is bizarre!

David, Washington, DC, USA

Dear Author, it will not be “a defiant performance celebrating the defeat of Georgian forces at the hands of Russian troops.”
This performance will be given in remembrance of Georgian aggression’s victims. D.Shostakovich symphonies, if you do not know, are not festive.

Yuriy, Limassol

Yuriy, Limassol, Cyprus

David, just wondering, how long did the Georgians have South Ossetia as “historical Georgia land” before the Ossetians settled there “in 16-17th centuries”?

Tom, Chicago, USA

Well done Valery! I have great respect for you. About fairy-tales of Ossetia being Georgian historical land: please tell this to Serbians, they just lost their historical land to Albanians. I suggest Georgian Patriarch travel to Kosovo and lecture Albanians and US military to return Kosovo to Serbia

Oleg, Toronto, Canada

All above from

August 22, 2008

LSO conductor Valery Gergiev leads defiant South

Ossetia concert

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