The relationship between Vladimir Spivakov and Grigory Kovalevsky is more than half a century old. They entered and studied at the Moscow Conservatory together, went to concerts all over the world, shared hotel rooms on tour, met girls, got married and gave birth to children under the close supervision of each other, and family holidays were often celebrated together until recently. But their main joint project, to which they both devoted more than three and a half decades of their lives, is Moscow Virtuosi. A cult band that almost every person in Russia knows about, even those who are far from music. Together they were involved in charity work: they flew with concerts to Kiev after Chernobyl, to Armenia after the earthquake, to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to Turkey - to help orphans, to Lisbon - after a terrible fire, in Khabarovsk - after floods.
“The main mission of a musician is always to remain human. Such a line of mercy is constantly present in the activities of the Moscow Virtuosi, and Gregory is one of the most not indifferent guides. Our friendship with Grigory lasted for half a century And soon the Moscow Virtuosi, who we started together, will turn 35... It seems to me that the most important thing in friendship is the constant feeling of a friend's shoulder. When you feel that a person is ready to share your joy and pain, then the grief becomes less than half, and the joy doubles. He knows the orchestra from the inside. You can rely on him”, - this is how Vladimir Spivakov spoke warmly of his soloist, double bass player just a few years ago. Grigory Kovalevsky, in his turn, always admirably called the conductor “the main virtuoso”.
Until recently, questions of trust also did not arise - since 2003, Grigory Kovalevsky, by decision of Spivakov and the Moscow Department of Culture, was the director of the Virtuosi of Moscow. And the inspectors did not have any complaints about him as the head of the legal entity and about the economic activities of the orchestra as a whole.
Collaboration and friendship fell apart literally overnight. “Because of my young wife, my Galina Sergeevna. Many people condemned my second marriage, and Spivakov was among them, ”the musician is convinced.
“Most of all I fear in life that I will die and you will lead the orchestra”, - he told me in one of our last conversations. For me it was strange - firstly, I never wanted to lead the orchestra, and secondly, I could not explain to myself what caused such aggression on his part? We studied together at the conservatory, we created an orchestra, we had a great life for 35 years before I got married a second time. I met a person whom I fell in love with and could not understand in any way, is it really so difficult to just be happy for a friend? Continuing that conversation, Spivakov added: "You will see how it all ends..." And what? Two babies were born, and nothing ended - I am a happy person, I have a wonderful wife and wonderful children, - says Kovalevsky.
With his first wife, Anna Brodskaya, Grigory Kovalevsky lived for 51 years, raised a son and grandson. However, the divorce was preceded by a difficult period.
- I did a DNA test, and it showed that my son, who is now 55 years old and whom I raised, is not my biological son. Of course, this is a trauma for me. But there is the Almighty, who for my good deeds in life gave me a wife and two children whom I adore, whom I love, and this is the meaning of my life. Of course, I was bitter because the person whom I considered my friend and close person could not understand me, although he himself was in a similar situation and could not share my happiness, '' says Kovalevsky.
The musician retells one of the last conversations with his friend, theater and film artist Oleg Tabakov.
- When all this leapfrog began, I wanted to share with Oleg Pavlovich. We sat with him and had a frank conversation. He didn't even let me finish, interrupted at the very beginning. In the voice of the cat Matroskin, as he snapped: "Grishka, this is envy!"
Immediately after the magnificent celebrations in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Moscow Virtuosi, the contrabass player received a notice of termination of the contract. Since 2019, the artist has been challenging his dismissal in courts.
According to the materials of civil case No. 02-183 / 2020, which was considered in the Meshchansky District Court, contested in the Moscow City Court, Kovalevsky Grigory Ilyich asks the court to recognize his dismissal from the post of director of the Moscow State Budgetary Institution of Culture “State Chamber Orchestra“ Moscow Virtuosi ”illegal, to establish the fact of labor relations in the period from 01.09.2014 to the present in the position of "artist of the orchestra", oblige the defendants to draw up an employment contract and make an entry in the work book.
The lawsuit also includes material claims: to recover from the Department of Culture of Moscow and the State Chamber Orchestra of Moscow Moscow Virtuosi State Chamber Orchestra compensation in the amount of three times the average monthly salary in the amount of 3,959,722.80 rubles, the average earnings for the period of forced absence for the period from 02.07.2019 to 31.08.2019 in the amount of 2,639,815.20 rubles, to collect wage arrears for the period from 26.07.2018 to 01.07.2019 in the amount of 1,262,163 rubles, the average earnings during forced absence from the period from 02.07.2019 to 24.12.2019 in the amount of 719 696 rubles, monetary compensation for violation of the terms of payments in accordance with Art. 236 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, compensation for moral damage in the amount of 200,000 rubles.
To date, the courts of two instances have completely refused the artist's demands.
When making decisions, the judges came to the conclusion that upon the expiration of the term of the employment contract, the plaintiff was lawfully dismissed, and the employer did not violate the dismissal procedure. The arguments about the additional agreements that had not expired at the time of dismissal are not consistent. Grigory Kovalevsky was denied wages for the performance of additional duties as an orchestra artist (combined with the work of director). The court explains this by the fact that “the plaintiff did not apply to the defendant with any statements about the required payment,” and the defendant did not issue “personnel orders to instruct the plaintiff to perform his duties as an orchestra artist”... The contrabass player's lawyers tried to challenge the phenomenal court verdict.
“The defendant acknowledges that Grigory Ilyich Kovalevsky, during the entire period of his employment as director of the Moscow Virtuosi State Chamber Orchestra, also served as an orchestra artist - he took part in rehearsals, performances and tours of the orchestra. However, labor relations for an additional position - the artist of the orchestra were not formalized, no remuneration was made. Only on the basis that an employment contract for an additional position was not concluded, the court refuses to recognize the defendant's employment relationship with the plaintiff and, accordingly, refuses payments.
Not in legal language, the Department of Culture answers - well, you played for 10 years, well, you toured, well, you soloed at concerts, but we didn't ask you about it, you yourself decided that. And nothing that without the double bass part the orchestra would not have played on stage in principle and no concerts would have taken place? Judicial practice is also unambiguous that not properly formalized labor relations with an employee are more likely even a violation on the part of the employer. In fact, the employee was allowed to work and performed it conscientiously; he did it with the knowledge and instructions of the employer - the Moscow Department of Culture. In the described situation, on the basis of Article 67 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, an employment contract that has not been drawn up in writing is considered concluded if the employee has started work, therefore a court decision that did not satisfy this claim of the plaintiff is, of course, illegal and must be canceled", - the lawyers of Grigory Kovalevsky comment.
- When relations with Spivakov began to deteriorate, by and large, I was ready for retirement, although I really wanted to continue playing on stage or at least be a consultant to the orchestra. My claim was not dictated by a thirst for money, some kind of material penalties. I just turned out to be completely unprepared, dumbfounded by the fact that after 40 years of joint work, from the very moment of the foundation of the Moscow Virtuosi, a person could be so cruelly exposed. Not even the smallest was said - a simple human "thank you".
Grigory Kovalevsky recalls the events that preceded the dismissal. Two years ago, on his 75th birthday, the country's top officials - both the President, and the Prime Minister of Russia, and the Chairman of the Federation Council - sent congratulations to him. The honors are understandable - in the whole of Russia today there are only two double bass players who have the title of People's Artists. Only the native Moscow Department of Culture did not congratulate. This was done at the suggestion of the conductor of the Moscow Virtuosi Vladimir Spivakov, the artist is sure.
- Two weeks before my dismissal, the now deceased Deputy Minister of Culture of Moscow Leonid Osharin summoned me. He said that he knew both from his friends and from his colleagues that I was an outstanding musician, and all the more monstrous, they say, was the mission entrusted to him, especially in the year of the orchestra's anniversary. He said that a letter had been received from Spivakov: with Kovalevsky, the contracts should not be renewed anymore, - says the interlocutor.
- Now I work as an assistant to the chief conductor of the State Orchestra of Tatarstan, I conduct group consultations, master classes in conservatories, specializing in double bass and quartet class. I play in various orchestras by invitation, I participate in international festivals. There are also proposals in Moscow. There is knowledge and I want to transfer it to the musicians, - says the people's artist.
A year after his dismissal, Grigory Kovalevsky published the book "Spivakov that You Don't Know". She, according to the artist, will not be sold in stores. This materialized embodiment of disappointment is intended only for the closest circle of friends...