Russian conductor Valery Gergiev was born in Moscow on 2 May 1953 and brought up at Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, learning piano at secondary school. He studied conducting with Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatoire and won the All-Soviet Conducting Prize and first prize in the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition in Berlin.
He began his career as assistant conductor to Yuri Temirkanov at the Kirov (now Mariinsky) Opera, where he conducted Prokofiev's War and Peace. He was chief conductor of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1980s, and became chief conductor of the Mariinsky Opera in 1988, and the company's general director in 1996. He has also held positions with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, New York's Metropolitan Opera and the London Symphony Orchestra.
He is a specialist in Russian music - particularly Prokofiev - and has also recorded music by Borodin, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. He has also conducted and recorded Wagner - notably, in 2003, the first Ring cycle in Russia for more than ninety years.
On 28 February 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and because of Valery Gergiev's friendship with Vladimir Putin, Gergiev's contract with his agent was terminated, and many appearances in the West were cancelled.
Classical music news. No Russian Music? - Should we ban Tchaikovsky because of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine?
Listening to Tchaikovsky - Béla Hartmann asks some searching questions about the pressure being placed on Russian artists following Putin's invasion of Ukraine
Ensemble. An Engrossing 'Simon' - Giuseppe Pennisi reports on one of Verdi's 'cursed' operas at the Salzburg Festival
Ensemble. A Popular Music Drama - Giuseppe Pennisi is impressed by Musorgsky's 'Khovanshchina' at La Scala Milan
Ensemble. A Memorable Evening - Shostakovich's 'Leningrad' Symphony performed by two symphony orchestras in San Diego, and conducted by Valery Gergiev, heard by Ron Bierman
Ensemble. Sublime Romanticism - Valery Gergiev conducts Tchaikovsky's 'Iolanta', impressing Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Sparkling Brilliance - Gergiev conducts Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker', enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. '... he delivers the big moments with overwhelming power.'
CD Spotlight. Orchestral Discipline - Berlioz's 'Harold in Italy', heard by Stephen Francis Vasta. '... sweet, plangent tone ...'
Ensemble. A Thought Provoking Combination - Iolanta and Bluebeard in high definition from New York, reviewed by Maria Nockin
Ensemble. The Highest Artistic Level - Maria Nockin loved The Met's 'Eugene Onegin' streamed live in HD
Ensemble. Charisma, Punch and Pull - Roderic Dunnett listens to Valery Gergiev conduct Szymanowski and promote the opening of Mariinsky2
Mahler versus Mahler - Two symphony orchestras are playing Mahler in Rome, by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. The Quality of Mercy - Verdi's 'La Forza del Destino', heard by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Unique and Moving - Mahler's Fifth Symphony - a self-metamorphosis from grief to ecstatic energy, by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Exquisite Performance - Metropolitan Opera's live HD transmission of 'Boris Godunov', enjoyed by Maria Nockin
Ensemble. Almost Cinematic - Shchedrin's 'Anna Karenina' and other premières at The Stars of the White Nights Festival, by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Mahler versus Mahler - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Antonio Pappano and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
CD Spotlight. Transcendent Resignation - Mahler's Ninth Symphony, heard by David Wilkins. '... played with love and knowledge and commitment ...'
Record Box. An Unfolding Cycle - Gergiev conducts Mahler, heard by Patric Standford
Profile. Rich Musical Experiences - American conductor Joel Revzen talks to Maria Nockin
Ensemble. Podium Celebrity - Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra in Florida, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
DVD Spotlight. Major Delights - Rossini's 'Il Viaggio a Reims' entertains Robert Anderson. '... an evening of pure champagne.'
Mad about Glinka - Russian conductor Valery Gergiev arrives in London later this month to conduct a rare concert performance of 'A Life for the Tsar'. Musicologist Gerard McBurney talks to Roderic Dunnett about its importance