Vladimir Putin makes no secret of his love for Russian culture, and Russian literature in particular – a body of work whose achievements, Dostoyevsky once claimed, justifies the existence of the entire Russian people. But if that same oeuvre now inspires a man instigating unprovoked war, doesn’t that raise urgent questions about its contemporary validity?
For some, these concerns are best expressed via cancellation. In Wales, the Cardiff Philharmonic recently pulled the plug on performances of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Marche Slave and Second Symphony, the ‘Little Russian’ (an old and patronising name for Ukraine). In Ireland, Trinity and University College orchestras have excised all Russian music from their repertoire, while in London the Royal Opera House has eliminated the Bolshoi’s summer season.