Pianist Boris Berezovsky dropped by agent following comments on Ukraine conflict

After comments made on a Russian TV channel, the pianist Boris Berezovsky has been dropped by his agent Productions Sarfati

Published: March 17, 2022 at 2:55 pm

After his television appearance last week, in which he suggested that the West was to blame for the situation in Ukraine, the Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky has been dropped by his agent, Productions Sarfati.

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In a statement on its website, the company says: ‘On March 3 we unequivocally condemned this unprovoked aggression and stated our support for the Ukrainian people. Our company has represented the pianist Boris Berezovsky, an extraordinary gifted artist and paradoxical individual, for almost 20 years…

'He recently spoke on a pure propaganda talkshow on a Russian TV channel. His comments shocked, upset and stunned all those who know the man and the artist…

'We strongly condemn the comments he made during his TV appearance and we must sadly suspend the representation of Boris Berezovsky by our company.’

In his appearance on Pervy Kanal on 10 March, Berezovsky made a number of statements about the conflict. At one point he said: 'There are important political analysts in the West who claim that it is their part of the world that is to blame for the situation in Ukraine.’ At another moment the 53-year-old pianist asked a military officer: ‘Should we really care about the timeline (of the ‘military operation’)? I understand that we have pity on them, we are being very delicate. But can’t we just spit on all that, surround them and cut off the electricity…from Kyiv?’ The military officer replied: ‘We shouldn’t create a humanitarian catastrophe.’

Berezovsky, who won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1990, has played all over the world and recorded for labels including Warner Classics.

When questioned about the impact of rising energy prices in the West, Berezovsky said: ‘I don’t care what happens in the West…I will definitely not go there for the next three years or so…it’s not my problem.’

Among those reacting to Berezovsky’s comments was the pianist and conductor Lars Vogt, musical director of the Paris Chamber Orchestra. ‘I can’t believe these words from my ex-friend Boris B. But I hear them from his own mouth,’ he said on Twitter. ‘Our friendship is officially over.’

The Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero called Berezovsky’s statements a ‘tremendous disappointment’ on Twitter, adding that ‘musical greatness is not always accompanied by empathy.’

Berezovsky is one of a number of artists in recent weeks to have been declared persona non grata by Western companies. Anna Netrebko and Valery Gergiev have been forced to step away from the concert hall after refusing to condemn the Russian regime.

In addition, two major piano competitions - the Honens International Piano Competition in Canada and the Dublin International Piano Competition - have announced that they will not be open to Russian pianists this year.

Around the world, musicians are facing calls to denounce Putin’s rule of Ukraine, with Vasily Petrenko and Thomas Sanderling stepping away from their roles at the head of Russian orchestras.

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Photo: Getty

Authors

Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.

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