Valery Gergiev In-depth Biography
Valery Gergiev} emerged in the 1980s as one of the most exciting new conductors, particularly of opera} and ballet}, and has maintained and enhanced his reputation ever since. He is also known for the rather gruff, unshaven appearance he cultivates. Born in Moscow to Ossetian parents, he showed tremendous musical talent in early childhood. Deciding while still in his teens that he wanted to become a conductor, Gergiev} entered the conducting class of Ilya Musin} at the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Conservatory. In 1975 and still a student, he won the All Union Conductors' Competition in Moscow in 1975. The following year, Gergiev} won the Herbert von Karajan Conductors' Competition in Berlin. In 1977, the 24-year-old Gergiev} was appointed assistant conductor at the Kirov Opera} under Yuri Temirkanov}. He made his debut the next year, conducting Prokofiev}'s immense opera} War and Peace}. This and other exciting opera} performances marked the arrival of an extraordinary conductor. In 1981, Gergiev} became director of the Armenian State Orchestra}, conducting widely throughout the Soviet Union. He was appointed music director of the Kirov} in 1988, when Temirkanov} left to take over the Leningrad Philharmonic}. Starting his tenure at the Kirov} with immense energy and enthusiasm, Gergiev} developed the company's orchestra to the point that it rivaled the famed Philharmonic}. As director of the Mariinsky Theater} (the historic home of the Kirov Opera and Ballet} companies), he organized a successful annual Stars of the White Nights} festival in St. Petersburg.
Gergiev} has traveled widely, taking the Kirov} companies all over the world. During the 1997-1998 season, for example, Gergiev} conducted several Kirov} productions, including Mussorgsky}'s Boris Godunov} at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées} in Paris and Borodin}'s Prince Igor} at the Metropolitan Opera} in New York. His subsequent engagements included a production of Boris Godunov} at the Met}. Following his North American debut in 1991, when he conducted a San Francisco Opera} production of War and Peace}, Gergiev} has led major opera} companies and symphony orchestras} around the world. Known for fiery performances of Russian repertoire, he is also an acclaimed interpreter of more standard fare. Appointed principal guest conductor of the Metropolitan Opera} in 1997, Gergiev} is also principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra}. In addition, he is in charge of numerous festivals, including the Rotterdam Philharmonic/Gergiev Festival}, the Mikkeli International Festival in Finland}, the Peace to the Caucasus Festival}, and the Red Sea International Music Festival} in Eilat, Israel. Gergiev}'s many CD and video recordings include the classical Russian opera} repertoire; symphonic works by Rachmaninov}, Shostakovich}, and Borodin}; as well as the complete Prokofiev} piano concertos}. ~ Joseph Stevenson, All Music Guide