Russian Maestro has a Snit

December 1st, 2008 | Sources: Boston Globe


When Gennady Rozhdestvensky found out the materials promoting his appearance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra didn’t show proper respect, he pulled out at the last minute. That left the BSO in the hands of a young assistant conductor and its genteel audience aghast.

The 77 year-old Rozhdestvensky is a towering figure in his field. He conducted Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet at the Bolshoi when he was 20 and went on to become the pre-eminent conductor during a golden era for classical music in the Soviet Union.

Rozhdestvensky’s brilliance was not lost on the Communist party. It flaunted him as a symbol of the regime’s excellence.

But that was quite awhile ago and now the maestro had pulled into Boston for a 4-night gig.

Then Rozhdestvensky, while out on a stroll, happened upon a promotional poster for his performance.  It gave top billing to the soloist, a cellist by the name of Lynn Harrell. Her name appeared in big print and was accompanied by a photo. His name appeared in smaller print.

How can that be?

The conductor tracked down a BSO marketing brochure. He opened it to find a page titled, “Artists who inspire.” His name wasn’t on that page. He then flipped to a section titled “Distinguished Conductors.” Still, no mention of the conductor. Rozhdestvensky finally found his name in a third section titled, “The Cello Shines.”

Who is that blasted Lynn Harrell anyway!

The maestro wasn’t going to take this sitting down. “I felt insulted by the actions of the (BSO) administration,” he told the Boston Globe. “I feel not only slighted but I suffered what is called in Russian a moral insult, and I’m free to take any actions to defend myself in public.”

That sent everybody ducking for cover at the BSO but Mark Volpe, its managing director did tell the Globe, “All of us at the BSO greatly admire Gennady Rozhdestvensky’s artistry. We genuinely regret that Maestro Rozhdestvensy decided to cancel his concerts this week.” 

Then he scrambled back to the foxhole.


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