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Guide to the Rotterdam Philharmonic Gergiev Festival

Dates

15 - 19 September 2021

Where is it?

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

About the festival

History
When Valery Gergiev became Principal Conductor in 1995 he and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra decided to hold an ambitious multi-day musical event. One year later, they presented the Rotterdam Philharmonic Gergiev Festival.

The early years
What began in 1996 as a themed concert series grew into a large-scale music festival. The 2001 edition was a major milestone, because it adopted a multi-disciplinary format to spotlight Shostakovich and his War Symphonies. In 2003 the Festival chose a ‘difficult composer’ in Prokofiev, but thanks to the wide range of programmes it managed to attract a record number of visitors. Further successes were achieved in the festival featuring Tchaikovsky (2004) and the edition entitled Fin-de-siècle Icons (2005) with music including works by Wagner and Strauss.

The second decade
In 2006 the Festival entered its second decade, with Freedom as its motto. There was now no focus on a particular composer or musical period, but a theme that gives every opportunity to place the music in a wider context. This course continued with Night of Love, Heaven and Earth, Eternal Youth and a trio of festivals about Rotterdam: Resurrection (2010), Sea & the City (2011) and Sea & You (2012). In 2013 the festival celebrated Valery Gergiev’s 25-year connection with the city and in 2014 the theme was The First World War.

Gergiev Festival New Style

Gergiev Festival new style
In 2014 the festival opted for a new format concentrated into a long weekend. Once again the principal actors (Valery Gergiev and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra) and their unique chemistry took centre stage. This new format was very well received by the audiences. The 2015 (Rachmaninov), 2016 (Prokofiev) and 2017 (The Russian Avant-Garde) festivals were very well attended; the highlights included the piano marathons, children’s concerts and the collaboration with the Symphony Orchestra of Codarts & the Royal Conservatoire.

25th festival
2021 is a jubilee year: this is the 25th edition of the Gergiev Festival, with St Petersburg as the theme. Although former principal conductor Gergiev still calls the city of Rotterdam ‘my second home’, his first home is of course the city of the tsars, of Peter the Great and of the Mariinsky Theatre. For many centuries St Petersburg has been the cultural capital of Russia and has a very eventful history. This is expressed in the spectacular programmes featured in this festival: from the monumental First Symphony of Shostakovich, via Tchaikovsky’s symphonic last oeuvre Le Pathétique to the world Première of Momotenko’s Madame en Noir.

How to get there?

The city of Rotterdam is accessible through Rotterdam The Hague Airport or the Rotterdam Central Station

Local accommodation

There is a large selection of hotels close by the different venues. Still, it is recommended to reserve your accommodation in advance.

Dress code

There is no specific dress code, but attendees tend to dress up for the symphonic concerts in De Doelen. The average temperature in the Netherlands during autumn is 10,6C. Generally, autumn is the wettest season in the Netherlands, so it’s good to bring an umbrella and to layer up.

Food & Drink

Within walking distance of the different sites of the Festival, you can find a large variety of good restaurants. Booking in advance is advised.

Why visit the festival?

2021 is the 25th Anniversary celebration year of this Gergiev Festival. A celebration of classical music and spectacular performances! Shostakovich’s First Symphony, Scheherazade with the Mariinsky Orchestra, Tchaikovsky's Le Pathétique and the seldomly played Second Piano Concerto performed by Alexandre Kantorow.

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