March 23, 2022, 11:21 | Updated: March 23, 2022, 11:26
Students, graduates and professors of the Gnessin School of Music in Moscow criticized the “heinous” political act of their director.
Last week, the Gnessin Moscow Music School YouTube channel posted a video in which the school’s principal, Mikhail Khokhlov, conducted an orchestra wearing a “Z” on his top.
The letter “Z” stands for support for Putin’s war in Ukraine and was also added to the title of the video. The orchestra playing in the video was the Gnessin Virtuosi, Russia’s first youth concert orchestra founded in 1990 by Khokhlov and made up of students from the school. The music in the video: the opening movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor.
In one social media post published on March 22Current students, alumni and teachers at the school condemned Khokhlov’s video, calling the political stunt “heinous” as the conductor “recruited underage students” as “a vehicle for the expression of his personal militaristic worldview”.
The video was removed from YouTube by the uploader, but the full performance still remains on the school’s website.
Founded in 1895, the Gnessin School was nationalized by the Soviet state in 1946 and was visited by Vladimir Putin to celebrate recent anniversary events.
Read more: A Ukrainian and Russian pianist plays a Mozart duet: “With music, we become connected”
In an open letter published yesterday, which was signed by more than a hundred artistic leaders in classical music, conductor Vladimir Jurowski writes:Not everyone feels able to testify clearly, because such testimony could potentially cause significant harm to the person themselves or to their family, friends and co-workers in Russia or Belarus.”
So far, the post from students, alumni and teachers of the Gnessin School of Music has received thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, including one from composer Gabriel Prokofiev.
The Russian-British musician and grandson of Sergei Prokofiev commented: “Strength to you all. The truth must be heard. The respect to stand up for your beliefs. Prokofiev recently attended an orchestral flashmob in London’s Trafalgar Square in solidarity with Ukraine.
The open letter was published in Russian and English about the Gnessin graduate Facebook account of Dmitry Selipanov.
On March 16, 2022, the YouTube channel “Gnessin World Channel” released a video titled “Gnessin Virtuosi – MuZical Offer”. In this video, the “Gnessin Virtuosi” Orchestra of the Moscow Gnessin School of Music performed the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. The orchestra was led by the school director, Mikhail Sergeyevich Khokhlov, who for the occasion wore a t-shirt with a large letter Z.
We, former students and graduates of the Gnessin School, as well as its teachers, condemn this shameful action in the strongest possible terms and regard it as a horrible stain on the history of our school.
This action is a serious attack on the reputation of one of the best music schools in the world and an insult to the honor and memory of the famous former teachers of the Gnessin school.
We further consider it heinous for the principal to have recruited underage students for this horrific publicity stunt, as well as to have used the school as a vehicle to express his personal militaristic worldview.
The aforementioned video was removed from YouTube on March 21, but by then thousands of people around the world had watched it. Moreover, to this day it is still accessible on the official website of Gnessin School and through the VK social network.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind you, Mr Khokhlov, that our School is not just walls that you had painted, not just the building that you saved from takeover. The school, with force, is all of us, not you personally. Therefore, as representatives of the School, we reject your views and position on this matter in the strongest possible terms.
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