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Russia’s piano wars – Gavrilov orchestra issues statement. Abusive, as you’d expect.

We have received the following communication from Dr Ilgiz Yanbukhtin,  International Director of the Moscow City Symphony – Russian Philharmonic ( We present it  unvarnished. Apparently, it’s 12 days before Christmas goodwill reaches in Russia. 

My name is Dr. Ilgiz Yanbukhtin, I am the International Director of the Moscow City Symphony – Russian Philharmonic ( made a necessary pause I‘mwriting to you on behalf of the orchestra in order to clarify in detail the incident which happened during the opening concert of the II Moscow Christmas Classical Music Festival on the 19th of December. Thank you for your interest to this unbelievable and crazy story we were all involved.




Let me tell you a few words about the orchestra. Exact full brand name is MOSCOW CITY SYMPHONY – RUSSIAN PHILHARMONIC. It was founded in 2000 by the Moscow City Government, and is the only Capital City of Moscow full symphony orchestra. Russian Philharmonic is the resident orchestra (together with two orchestras of Vladimir Spivakov) of the Moscow International House of Music ( In 2011 Dmitri Jurowski, member of the prominent musical dynasty, music director of Royal Flemish Opera, was appointed its chief conductor.


This orchestra is continuously expanding its activities both within the Russian Federation and internationally, starting its touring performances in USA, France, Germany, Bruckner Festival in Linz, Besancon Festival in 2013-2015. Moscow City Symphony – Russian Philharmonic is the only Russian full symphony orchestra to be member of International Artist Managers’ Association (IAMA), Alliance of Asia Pacific Region Orchestras (AAPRO), League of American Orchestras (LAO).


Inquiries about Russian Philharmonic can be made at Productions Internationales Albert Sarfati, Atholl Swainston-Harrison, IAMA executive director, Madame Guo Shan, AAPRO Chairman & China Symphony Development Foundation or such classical music industry legends as Till Janczukowicz and Rosi Pritz or such world renowned musicians as Maxim Vengerov, Dmitri Sitkovetsky, Jose Carreras, Jose Cura, etc. You are most welcome to listen to the orchestra through its official YouTube channel (



andrei gavrilov

Mr. Gavrilov was invited to participate in the opening concert of the above-mentioned Festival to be held at the Moscow International House of Music on December 19. Our orchestra first contacted Mr. Gavrilov in late May 2012. He sounded very enthusiastic about cooperation with the orchestra and him performing in Moscow and he himself proposed to perform Rachmaninoff’s 3rd concerto. THE CONTRACT WASSIGNED ON JULY 7, 2012 and HE WAS PAID IN ADVANCE ON JULY 9, 100% ADVANCE PAYMENT BY BANK TRANSFERRALTHAT WAS HIS BASIC CONDITION.




Mr. Gavrilov arrived in Moscow one week before the date of the concert after having performed in Asia. Federal TV channel “Culture” wanted to make a live concert recording for subsequent broadcasting. MR. GAVRILOV REJECTED TOTALLY ANY POSSIBLE RECORDING DURING THE REHEARSALS AND THE CONCERT AS WELL AS ANY INTERVIEWS.


DEC.18 – first rehearsal was scheduled from 4:30 PM till 7 PM including 15 minutes break. It became immediately clear that Mr. Gavrilov was not in a good pianistic shape. Both members of the orchestra and Mr. Jurowski were very surprised to see that the soloist was not able to play the right notes and chords, was constantly stopping, and instead of concentrating on his own performance, giving instructions to the orchestra and teaching. He seemed very distracted, couldn’t remember the text and clearly was not in control of his fingers. IT’S FUNNY THAT MR. GAVRILOV STATES THAT HE DOES NOT NEED A CONDUCTOR TO PERFORM WITH THE ORCHESTRAS. He repeated this idea several times to Gayane Shiladzhyan, orchestra CEO, at her office and in their correspondence. DESPITE HIS ODD BEHAVIOR DMITRI JUROWSKIGAYANE SHILADZHYAN AND THE MEMBERS OF THE ORCHESTRA WERE VERY TACTFUL, TOLERANT AND PATIENT WITH MR. GAVRILOV. Additionally, the woman who accompanied the soloist informed Gayane that a tragic event happened to Mr. Gavrilov’s dearest person the other day. One can imagine that after such a rehearsal we were all very concerned about the level of Mr. Gavrilov’s preparation and the success of the concert.


DEC.19 – dress rehearsal was scheduled from 4:15 PM till 6 PM on stage of the Svetlanov Hall. Mr. Gavrilov arrived almost an hour late. During the dress rehearsal Mr. Gavrilov again demonstrated total incapacity to play the right musical text and total absence of concentrationin full view of numerous listeners at Svetlanov Hall. Mr. Gavrilov was politely asked about whether he would be able to play tonight considering his personal tragic circumstances and emotional state. His reply was that he’s in good spirits and ready to perform.


The dress rehearsal finished at 6:40 PM. Orchestra was on stage by 7:15 PM. Assistants went to Gavrilov’s dressing room on the 8th floor to invite him to go on stage but found no one – neither Gavrilov himself, nor his stuff. Nobody could find him at the backstage either. Eyewitnesses (House of Music security and barmen) saw how he ran away right after the rehearsal through emergency exit on the 4th floor.

 alexander ghindin

We knew that the distinguished Russian pianist Alexander Ghindin was at Svetlanov Hall with his wife and son as a guest (please listen to Ghindin playing Part 1 of Rachmaninoff’s 4th concerto, original version, with Vladimir Ashkenazy ). He also attended the dress rehearsal. We had no choice but to ask him to save the concert and to play Rachmaninoff’s 3rd concerto, one of the most demanding pieces in the piano repertoire, without rehearsing or even warming up his hands. Dmitri Jurowski made an announcement, saying that because Mr. Gavrilov suddenly felt unwell he would be replaced by Alexander Ghindin. SUCH AN ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE IN ORDER TO PROTECT MR. GAVRILOV’S REPUTATION AND NOT TO DISCLOSE TO THE PUBLIC THAT THE PIANIST WAS SIMPLY NOT CAPABLE OF PLAYING THE CONCERT AND WAS COWARDLY ESCAPING THROUGH THE FIRE EXIT.


Rachmaninoff began to sound at 7:30 PM. The concert ended with the standing ovation.




Those are the naked facts. I would like to emphasize some important points.


1) Mr. Gavrilov was TECHNICALLY NOT READY TO PLAY RACHMANINOFF. There is audio recording from the dress rehearsal on Dec.19 one could post in Facebook but we’ll never do it as we do observe the proprieties. One can also watch a pretty fresh video from Mr. Gavrilov’s dress rehearsal in Seoul (four weeks ago in late November). That gives an idea of his professional level right now. HE USES INTERPRETATION MATTERS (“MY CONGENIAL RACHMANINOFF”, “MY CONGENIAL TCHAIKOVSKY”, “MY CONGENIAL CHOPIN”, etc.) AS A COVER FOR HIS OWN PERFORMING PROBLEMS.


2) Mr. Gavrilov DIDN’T REFUSE TO PLAY THE CONCERT – HE JUST VANISHED WITHOUT ANY EXPLANATION through the emergency exit. He even admitted that on his Facebook account. We believe that it is a disgrace to behave like that towards the audience, orchestra and Dmitri Jurowski, his colleague and partner on the stage. He could honestly say to the audience and to the orchestra, “I refuse to play”.IT COULD BE A NORMAL AND CIVILIZED GESTURE OF RESPECT BUT HE DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH COURAGE TO DO THAT.


3) Mr. Gavrilov tried TO FRUSTRATE AND SABOTAGE THE CONCERT DELIBERATELY TO COVER UP HIS PROFESSIONAL IMPOTENCE.Luckily Gayane Shiladzhyan and Dmitri Jurowski handled this situation with courage and dignity. To be honest we’ve never faced with such a wild and uncivilized challenge before. The concert was a huge success. Only 15 tickets were returned and, of course, reimbursed. Out of almost 1800 sold out.


4) Mr. Gavrilov UNLEASHED A STORM OF MISINFORMATION THROUGHT FACEBOOK TO JUSTIFY HIMSELF.He still cannot stop blaming everyone and everything for his own problems and inadequacy. HIS TACTICS CAN BE IDENTIFIED AS “ ATTACK IS THE BEST FORM OF DEFENCE”. Mr. Gavrilov is being rude, insulting and personal towards Dmitri Jurowski publicly calling him “mega untalented”, “impudent”, “young, spoiled and feeble”, “water nymph with a stick”, etc. We are appalled by his behavior. Once a distinguished musician has reduced himself to becoming an incompetent hooligan.



5) THE VERY STYLE OF MR. GAVRILOV’S POSTS BOTH IN ENGLISH AND ESPECIALLY IN RUSSIAN IS INADMISSIBLE AND DISGRACEFUL. His language is extremely vulgar abounding with foul expressions. None of his opponents (Ghindin, Jurowski or Shiladzhyan) ever permitted themselves to insult their colleague. Please note that Mr. Gavrilov’s argumentation in Facebook is very intolerant and primitive – everybody who disagrees with him over his actions in Moscow is scornfully and arrogantly called “Sovok”, a remnant of something supposedly Soviet.


6) Mr. Gavrilov DID NOT FULFIL HIS CONTRACT OBLIGATIONSwhich constitutes a breach of contract. IS IT PROFESSIONAL AND NORMAL FOR THE LAW-ABIDING WESTERNER (ESPECIALLY) SUCH A FLAGRANT VIOLATION OF CONTRACT OBLIGATIONS?!?!Keeping in mind that Mr. Gavrilov used to proudly position himself as a “citizen of the world”. I DOUBT THAT HE WOULD EVER DARE TO BEHAVE LIKE THAT SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE RUSSIA – IN EUROPE, AMERICA OR ASIA. The orchestra has already claimed the damages strictly according to the contract through his accountant in Moscow. No answer yet. Unless the parties settle this issue within a month the orchestra will bring an action against Mr. Gavrilov.


By the way, this is NOT THE FIRST TIME MR. GAVRILOV BREACHES HIS CONTRACT IN RUSSIA – he left the city of Vladimir in Russia in March 2007 right before the concert.

We treated Mr. Gavrilov with utmost respect, we treated him as a pianistic legend. We were aware of his unpredictability and extravagance but the reality exceeded our worst expectations. Mr. Gavrilov CANNOT BE CONSIDERED A “HANDSHAKE” GENTLEMAN ANY MORE.Now it is up to you and the Western audience as well as his fans to judge whether he is a decent man or AN ORDINARY CROOK AND LIAR.




Dr. Ilgiz Yanbukhtin

International Director

Moscow City Symphony – Russian Philharmonic


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  1. Angry perhaps, but to me this doesn’t read as “abusive” at all. Just a robust attempt by one side to set out their version of events (which no doubt Gavrilov would dispute).

    • Gavrilov is abusing.

      He starts with using “friends” for getting attention. Thats fine, many do.
      Then uses his “friends” for getting him concerts (of course, they wont get paid a penny).
      He wont say “thank you”, even if they arrange for him concerts (still being totally unpaid).
      He will let them book for him many more flight tickets than he uses by canceling flights.
      Then finally, after the concert, he will be speaking down on them in chauvinistic
      manners like if he is educating children. No problem, if they complain on his
      respectless way of speaking to them, he just removes them. Easy cake.

    • I agree that Gavrilov is abusing for the way he acts as if he was superior upon most people and his friends.

  2. Dear Norman, thank you for posting my comments on behalf of the Moscow City Symphony “Russian Philharmonic”. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and all your readers! You’re right to say that it’s exactly 12 days Unfortunately there is ONE INCORRECT THING in my text. I just checked this information with our colleagues from the City of Vladimir where Mr. Gavrilov was supposed to perform in March 2007. HE WAS NOT PAID IN ADVANCE, He just VANISHED, RAN AWAY, so our colleagues managed to save on the soloist’s fee at least)) We’d not like to blame Mr. Gavrilov in this case without grounds. Please correct it, Norman. Thank you in advance. One can read corrected and updated version of my comments on the orchestra’s website

  3. Sorry, forgot to add that it’s exactly 12 days before Christmas goodwill reaches in Russia as well.

  4. Thank you David December 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm for correct understanding. “Abusive” is not right word here, “ANGRY” – yes. I believe WE HAVE THE FULL RIGHT TO BE ANGRY in such wild and uncivilized situation we found ourselves and we had to handle as well as the Moscow audience HAS THE FULL RIGHT TO BE ANGRY too. Our comments have a certain structure, frame. They aim at disclosing THE REAL LOGIC of this incident, the whole truth I would say. One more important point, here is the Russian link of the open letter from Vladimir symphony orchestra written by its chief conductor Artyom Markin. It was published yesterday, Dec.23: Its title sounds like “Andrey Gavrilov’s pre-concert flight from the House of Music – the same Vladimir story”
    English translation to arrive tomorrow morning I hope. Of course, it’ll be great to provide proper translation of Alexander Ghindin’s letter too.

  5. Further to our correspondence, first and foremost, definition “abusive” relates to Mr. Gavrilov’s style and behaviour. It’s confirmed by the most direct proof. You’re all welcome to visit his FB chats and forums both in English & Russian (I already mentioned in the comments). Our text contains a bare listing of facts, it’s balanced, logical but pretty tough in terms of its conclusions based upon facts again and deserved by the soloist. So, dear Norman, let’s draw a distinction between white and black. We’re not AGGRESSORS in this case. “Abusive” is not about us)

  6. As promised, here is the English translation of yesterday’s open letter from Vladimir Symphony. It just arrived. I’m posting it here, please read it, very instructive example. Dear Norman, I’ll appreciate very much if you could post it separately on your

    Open letter of Mr. Artyom Markin: “Pre-concert escape of Andrei Gavrilov from the House of Music – repetition of “the city of Vladimir” story”.

    December 23, 2012

    In connection with disappearance of Andrei Gavrilov before the opening concert of the II Christmas festival and aggressive attempts of the pianist himself and his fans to justify this action by unprofessionalism of the Moscow City Symphony – Russian Philharmonic and conductor Dmitri Jurowski and by attacks towards Alexander Ghindin, who has really saved the concert substituting Mr. Gavrilov, I find it necessary to present an open letter on behalf of the Vladimir Governor’s Symphony Orchestra and in my own name.
    We are not surprised at what has happened. Exactly the same story took place in Vladimir, in March 2007. There was an agreement concerning joint cycle of concerts – anthology of piano concerto genre – between our orchestra and Andrei Gavrilov. We considered established concert plan as a unique opportunity to collaborate with the great pianist. The concert was scheduled on March 2. The program consisted of the First concerto by Sergey Rachmaninoff and the First concerto by Chopin. Andrei Gavrilov asked to increase usual number of rehearsals and to our surprise motivated it by saying that these concertos were “new” for him. The musician arrived three days before the concert. We started to rehearse. Bewilderment because of the soloist’s total unpreparedness for the concert was the first impression. The rehearsals took longer than planned and were often interrupted at his request. It was impossible to recognize the musician whose records we knew pretty well. To be frank, he was rehearsing badly, with senseless repetitions of the text.
    On the day of the concert I received a short SMS from Gavrilov’s assistant, the main point was that there would be no concert as Andrei Gavrilov “fell in battle with piano”. We made an attempt to return him, my father, well-known Russian choirmaster Eduard Markin went to the hotel. Andrei Gavrilov just didn’t open the door. The concert sold out and so much expected by the public, including Gavrilov’s friends from Vladimir, was disrupted. It was said officially and out of respect for the pianist that the he felt unwell.
    However now, after almost 6 years have elapsed and the story which is accompanied by rude accusations of his colleagues – conductor, musicians of splendid Moscow City Orchestra and Alexander Ghindin, I consider it’s important to remind musical community about our case and to reveal the hidden motive for the concert cancellation. I am convinced that the reason for his another escape is not lack of professionalism of the orchestra, but in deplorable and certainly tragic fact that Andrei Gavrilov himself, being one of the most outstanding pianists, lost his professional skills. I am sure that the soloist’s forced (there are no doubts) replacement by remarkable pianist Alexander Ghindin turned out to be a present for the audience rather than a lost chance.

    Director of Classical Music Centre,
    Chief Conductor of Vladimir Governor’s Symphony Orchestra
    Artyom Markin (Russian original )

  7. We’re very grateful to our Vladimir colleagues. Better late than never. So 6 years ago Mr. Gavrilov “fell in battle with piano”. How do you like it?!

  8. Lukas Fierz says:

    Repeated episodes of inability to play in a Russian pianist might most probably be explained by Vodka. L.F.

    • Peter - a different one from the other Peter says:

      Perhaps he “fell in bottle with piano” or ” fell in piano, with bottle”.

      Just as politicians leave their jobs “to spend more time with their family”, and professors leave “to undertake more research”, then musicians “fall in battle” with their instruments. That is such a vivid description.

      • Andrei Gavrilov was one the most brilliant pianists to emerge from the USSR. He was considered a worthy successor to Richter, even by the great man himself. He is famously difficult. But then, if you had had your career taken away from you by the Soviet state, and had been committed to a psychiatric institute for the crime of criticizing the regime, so, probably, would you be.

  9. Well, other musicians have been “infamous” for cancelling performances in the last minute: Carlos Kleiber, Benedetti Michelangeli, Vladimir Horowitz… I am sure that even though they cancelled performances, did not behave the same way.

  10. David Handel says:

    Dear Readers,

    As a follower of Mr. Lebrecht’s always insightful writing, and a great admirer of Maestro Andrei Gavrilov’s extraordinary artistry, I feel compelled to write in defense of the good name of my colleagues of the Moscow City Symphony – Russian Philharmonic.

    When I first read the various back-and-forths, I was reminded of an historic and polemic conflict between Leonard Bernstein and Glenn Gould. Because I grew up idolizing both Bernstein and Gould, their conflict is tattooed on my mind and I think of it often when working with soloists.

    From the podium and audience present, Bernstein publicly distanced himself from Gould’s “idiosyncratic” interpretation of the Brahms First Concerto which they were to play within moments, jocularly obviating very serious tensions between conductor and soloist. The concert went forward, is recorded for posterity, and those who differed had every opportunity to do so, on and off the podium, off stage, beyond the concert hall, etc. I can think of no artists whom I have admired and continue to admire more than Bernstein and Gould. Though their differences were evidently great, each demonstrated the utmost mutual respect in the context of their significant differences. It was perhaps a period when things were not so immediate and were apparently more civilized, though I should think were no less intense.

    I assume the readers of Mr. Lebrecht’s writings to be people who believe in civil discourse, understanding that public forums like Facebook, Twitter, etc. must be handled with a great respect for the exponential implications the medium implies. In this sense, it is essential that we readers-contributors do our best to manage facts, concrete concepts, and not innuendo.

    I know the Russian Philharmonic, its musicians and administrative team all very well. I value and respect the work of my colleague Dmitry Jurowsky. They are all serious professionals of the highest caliber. For anyone to suggest otherwise is simply irresponsible and slanderous.


    David Handel

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