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Valery Gergiev to become principal conductor of Munich Philharmonic in 2015

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Valery Gergiev has been appointed principal conductor of the Munich Philharmonic starting with the 2015-16 season.

Gergiev agreed to a contract through the 2019-20 season. He will succeed Lorin Maazel, who took over last year from Christian Thielemann.

In addition, the 59-year-old Gergiev remains artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, a position he has held since 1988. He intends to give up his post as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 2014-15 season, but plans to conduct the LSO in some projects after that.

"I think Munich is a different colour in the musical map of Europe and deeply rooted in this Austrian-German or better to say German or even Bavarian music tradition. Look at Richard Strauss. Look at Wagner," he said Friday during a telephone interview after a news conference in Munich. "Every program is repeated three times. In London once, sometimes twice."

Gergiev doesn't consider himself a candidate to succeed Simon Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic. Rattle said last month he will leave in 2018 after 16 years.

"I never think this way," he said.

He will conduct a new production of Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" at the Metropolitan Opera in the September season with Anna Netrebko, but has withdrawn from the new staging of Borodin's "Prince Igor" later in the season.

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