Russian music students bravely condemn conductor’s pro-Putin ‘Z’ stunt

23 March 2022, 11:21 | Updated: 23 March 2022, 12:36

Mikhail Khokhlov, director of the music school, with President Vladimir Putin.

Alamy / гнесинские Vиртуозы

Students, graduates, and teachers of the Gnessin Moscow Music School have criticised their principal’s ‘abhorrent’ political act.

Last week, the Gnessin Moscow Music School YouTube channel published a video where the school’s director, Mikhail Khokhlov, conducted an orchestra wearing a ‘Z’ on his top.

The letter ‘Z’ signifies support for Putin’s war in Ukraine, and was also added to the video’s title. 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 from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor.

In a social media post published on 22 March, current students, alumni, and teachers at the school condemned Khokhlov’s video, calling the political stunt “abhorrent” as the conductor “recruited underage students” as “as a vehicle for expression of his personal militaristic worldview.”

The video has been taken down from YouTube by the uploader, but the full performance still remains on the school’s website.

Founded in 1895, the Gnessin school was nationalised by the Soviet state in 1946, and has received visits from Vladimir Putin to celebrate recent anniversary events.

Read more: A Ukrainian and Russian pianist play a Mozart duet: ‘with music, you become connected’

Students of the Russian music school
Students of the Russian music school.


In an open letter published yesterday, that was signed by over one hundred artistic leaders in classical music, conductor Vladimir Jurowski writes, “Not everyone feels able to testify clearly, because such a testimony could potentially cause significant harm to the person himself or to his family, friends and work colleagues in Russia or Belarus.

So far, the post from the students, alumni, and teachers of the Gnessin music school 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. Respect for standing up for your beliefs.” Prokofiev recently attended an orchestral flashmob in London’s Trafalgar Square in solidarity Ukraine.

The open letter was published in Russian and English on Gnessin graduate Dmitry Selipanov’s Facebook account.

On March the 16th, 2022, the YouTube channel “Gnessin World Channel” published a video entitled “Gnessin Virtuosi – muZical Offering”. In this video, the “Gnessin Virtuosi” orchestra of Gnessin Moscow Music School played the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. The orchestra was conducted by the School principal, Mikhail Sergeyevich Khokhlov, who, for this occasion, donned a t-shirt sporting a large letter Z.

We, former students and graduates of Gnessin School, as well as its teachers, condemn this shameful action in strongest possible terms and consider it a horrible stain on the history of our school.

This action is a grave injury to the reputation of one of the best music schools of the world, and an insult to the honour and memory of Gnessin School famous former teachers.

We further consider it abhorrent for the principal to have recruited underage students for this ugly publicity stunt, as well as to have used the school as a vehicle for expression of his personal militaristic worldview.

The above-mentioned video was taken down from YouTube on March 21st, yet by that time thousands of people around the word had watched it. Moreover, as of today, it is still accessible on the official website of Gnessin School and via VK social network.

We would like to use this opportunity to remind you, Mr. Khokhlov, that our School is not just walls that you have had repainted, not just the building that you saved from takeover. The School, emphatically, is all of us, not you personally. We, therefore, in our capacity of representatives of the School, reject your views and your stance on this matter in strongest possible terms.

George Avetisov
Magda Amara
Maria Andreeva
Boris Andrianov
Catherine of Antokolskaya
Ekaterina Apekisheva
Tiger Akhumyan-Balyan
Svetlana Balan
Michael Balan
Rostislav Balchunas
Maria Bogomolova
Alexander Brodsky
Mikhail Brodsky
Alexey Brunie
Dmitry Bulgakov
Philip Weiman
Victoria Vartanova
Lina Vartanova
Elizabeth Vilkovskaya
Alexandra Vinnick
Alina Vorobyeva
Mariana The Train
Ulyana Volkova
Alexey Volodin
Karina Garibova
Gregory Gerschfeld
Dina Goyfeld-Zemtsova
Maria Golovkina
Diana Gontarenko
Alexander Gordon (Zemtsov)
Sergey Grokhotov
Sofia Gulbadamova
Asya Gulua (Kozhevnikova)
Catherine of the State
Elena (Olesya) Doskina
Timur Jafarov
Alexandra Dzyubenko
Nikolai Dobkin
Andrey Doynikov
Elena Drabkin (Shagalova)
Polina Egudin (Kozhevnikova)
Alexandra Elina
David Yezhov
Ksenia Zhulyova
Maria Zaitseva
Michael Zakaryan
Ekaterina Zeynetdinova
Vladimir Zisman
Maxim Zlotnikov
Catherine Ignatova
Evgenia Ivanova-Dyatlova
Leo Iomdin
Lyalya Kandaurov
Tatyana Kalmykova (Menshikova)
Yuri Kalnits
Michael Kaplouhi
Denis Karpov
Anait Karpova
Marina Katarzhnova
Gregory Kesler
Eugene Kisin
Alexander Cobrin
Daniel Kobylansky
Akmal Kosimov
Nelly Kravets (Litvinskaya)
Mikhail Krasnenker
Taras Krisa
Alexander Kudryavtsev
Cute Kuznetskaya
Alexandra Kuzma
Ivan Lazebny
Sophia the Swan
Mary the Swan
Elizabeth Leonova
Anna Lipkin
Konstantin Lifshitz
Love of Lviv
Anna Elizabeth Majorga Voycekhovskaya
Victor Maslov
Alexander Matveev
Roman Martynov
Daria Marshinina
Nune Melikyan
Alexey Melnikov
Olga Moytlis
Mikhail Mordvinov
Miriam Milgram Harat
Roman Mints
Julia Musayelian
Alexandra The Remembrance
Varvara the Unforgettable
Victor Omelyanovich
Maryana Osipova
Maria Ostrokhova
Margarita Pavlova
Eugenia Peschanskaya
Alina Petrova
Anastasia Petrova
Sophia Pinayva
Irina Pisareva
Nadezhda Podgornaya
Anna Prokopyeva (Selipanova)
Ella Pruzhanskaya
Nadezhda Podgornaya
Elena Portnaya
Anna Putnikova
Sergey Putnikov
Lola Rasulova
Dmitry Rakhmanov
Inga Homeland
Alla Roizis
Michael Rudoy
Ilya Rubinstein
Alexey Savinkov
Sergey Samushkin
Cyril Sedov
Dmitry Selipanov
Diana Serbina
Pavel Serbin
Vladimir Sidorov
Dmitry Son
Katya Scanavi
Elena Skvortsova
Boris Slutsky
Elizabeth Smirnova
Taisiya Sokolova
Anastasia Sologub
Asya Sorshneva
Maria Spitkovskaya
Yekaterina Starodubrovskaya
Anastasia Stasevich
Alexey Steblev
Maria Surovtseva
Marina Tarasenko
Polina Tarasenko
Natella Thevdoi – Burmuli
Eugene Tonha
Daniel Trifonov
Vladimir Tropp, Jr.
Julia Falina
Elina Firetag (Palitskaya)
Elena Fatahutdinova
Julia Filhaber (Gotlib)
Elena Fichtengolts
Michael Fichtengolts
Natalia Fichtengolts
Eugene Franchuk
Anna Hanina
Dmitry Hamov
Khakhulina Perks
She is a hwan
Tyr Hisambeev
Catherine Tsirempilova
Anastasia Chernyak
Andrey Chaporov
Mikhail Chaporov
Alexey Charykov
She is a chekina
Leonid Chizhik
Roman Chistyakov
Andrei Cholokyan
Alexander Shaikin
Konstantin Shamray
Daniel Shiposha
Dmitry Yudin
Igor Yusefovich
Timur Yakubov
Nikolai Yaushev

Next Post

10 Best Horror Games That Have A Cute Art Style

True fear comes from the disconnect between what a person expects and what actually happens in reality. For example, seeing people at a crowded intersection isn’t scary, but seeing a lone person in what should be a deserted alley is terrifying. Rather than necessarily being afraid of the person themself, […]