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Copyright © reMusik.org
He became the chief conductor and artistic director of the Mariinsky in 1988, and overall director of the company, appointed by the Russian government, in 1996. In addition to his artistic work with the Mariinsky, Gergiev has worked in fund-raising for such projects as the recently built 1100-seat Mariinsky Hall, and intends to achieve complete renovations of the Mariinsky Theatre by 2010.
From 1995 to 2008, Gergiev was principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1997, Gergiev became principal guest conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. His current contract there runs through the 2007-2008 season. His premieres there have included a new version of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, revised and reorchestrated by Igor Buketoff.
In 2002, Gergiev was featured in one scene in the film Russian Ark, directed by Alexander Sokurov and filmed at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In 2003, he initiated and conducted at the Mariinsky Theatre the first complete cycle of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung to be performed in Russia for over 90 years. The production’s design and concept reflects many aspects of Ossetian culture. Gergiev conducted this production in Cardiff in 2006 at the Wales Millennium Centre, and in Costa Mesa, California in October 2006 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. This production was presented at the Lincoln Center in New York City in July 2007 to a great acclaim, and the run was completely sold out.
In 1988, Gergiev made his first guest conducting appearance with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). In his next appearance with the LSO in 2004, he conducted the symphonies of Sergei Prokofiev.This engagement led to his appointment in 2005 as the Orchestra’s fifteenth principal conductor, succeeding Sir Colin Davis effective January 1, 2007.Gergiev’s initial contract with the LSO was for 3 years. His first official concert as the LSO Principal Conductor was on 23 January 2007, as he was supposed to have conducted his first concert as LSO Principal Conductor on 13 January, but had to withdraw because of illness.
In October 2007 Gergiev took part in a unique holiday project featured in the 100th anniversary issue of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. A concert by Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra featuring piano virtuoso Lola Astanova became a part of a $1.59 million fantasy gift. The super concert is said to be hosted by the Emmy-winning American television personality Regis Philbin.
Gergiev has a reputation for an abrasive, yet passionate, conducting style. He is a driven conductor who produces his best in pieces of great drama. Curiously, he often conducts using a toothpick as a baton, as can be seen in his performances of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol and Verdi’s overture to La Forza del Destino on YouTube. He has stated that his favourite composer is Sergei Prokofiev in his DVD recording of Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite. He was awarded the 2006 Polar Music Prize together with Led Zeppelin.
Gergiev has focused on recording Russian composers’ works, both opera and symphonic, including Mikhail Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. Most of his recordings, on the Philips label, are with the Kirov Orchestra, while he has also recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic. A recent undertaking, the complete Prokofiev Symphonies, is with the London Symphony Orchestra. Gergiev is also in the process of recording the complete symphonies of Gustav Mahler with the London Symphony Orchestra; all are being recorded live in concert and are available through the London Symphony Orchestra Live label. In 2009 Gergiev and Mariinsky launched a Mariinsky Live record label (being distributed by London Symphony Orchestra Live) with the first two recordings featuring the music of Dmitri Shostakovich.