Russian maestro Vladimir Jurowski joins classical stars in high-profile ‘Stop the War’ open letter

22 March 2022, 16:07 | Updated: 24 March 2022, 10:14

Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski
Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski. Picture: Getty

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Sir Simon Rattle and Nicola Benedetti are among the open letter’s high profile musical signatories, in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

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Leading conductors and musicians have signed an open letter calling to ‘Stop the war against Ukraine and stop the blanket boycott against Russian and Belarusian artists.’

The letter, initiated by the Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski, also adds that no pressure should be put on these artists to publicly identify themselves, due to safety concerns.

The signatories include high profile conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, and Sir Antonio Pappano, and leading musicians such as Nicola Benedetti, Barbara Hannigan, Ian Bostridge, and Boris Giltburg.

Jurowski, who is the general music director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, has previously spoken out against the war.

On 24 February 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine, the 49-year-old conductor said, “I did not believe that the start of military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine was possible. I am deeply indignant about this action but also extremely sad because I am connected to both countries through my family history.

“I hope that peace will be restored as soon as possible.”

Read the full open letter, first published on, below:

A Ukrainian and Russian pianist play a Mozart duet

Stop the war and counteract the blanket boycott of Russian and Belarusian cultural workers

There is absolutely no justification for the ruthless war that Putin's totalitarian regime has unleashed against sovereign Ukraine, with Russian tanks and missiles targeting innocent civilians. The bombing and attacking of civilian objects such as hospitals, schools, theaters, universities, libraries or churches are war crimes, crimes against humanity that must be condemned without exception and unequivocally. Many artists, musicians, composers and theater workers in Ukraine, our colleagues, are deprived of the opportunity to practice their art freely due to the war. The suffering of all those affected by this war of aggression is immeasurable and we understand

We unreservedly support the sanctions and diplomatic pressure used against the Putin regime and its cronies, against its supporters, propagandists and information manipulators, and against any person or entity whose ties to Putin and his government are clearly documented. But not all Russians and Belarusians, and certainly not all cultural figures from these two nations, support this terrible invasion. Thus, we consider it unfair to condemn Russians or Belarusians in a sweeping manner for the actions of the dictator and his supporters when there is no direct evidence of their involvement. Excluding a cultural worker from an event because of their nationality, while at the same time not wanting to harm the artist personally, as has now happened several times, is not possible. Nationality should not matter - no one would have to justify their origin or nationality.

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. Many currently feel like hostages in their own country. Before invading Ukraine, Putin was already invading his own country, silencing all opposition and ideologically brainwashing the population. But we can defeat his hate-mongering disinformation campaigns by standing together. Therefore, all cultural workers who do not support this illegal war and the responsible regime, whether publicly or privately, should be allowed to continue their artistic activity.

We expressly raise our voices against the arbitrary exclusion of Russian and Belarusian persons solely on the basis of their nationality. Such measures are not only unworthy of a society striving to eliminate all forms of discrimination, but also serve to feed Putin's dangerous propaganda narratives.

We demand an immediate end to the war against Ukraine and urge fairness and justice towards Russian and Belarusian citizens who are not affiliated with Putin's regime.