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Charles Dutoit latest: Royal Philharmonic hedges on his future

December 22, 2017 by norman lebrecht

30 comments.


The firm that handles the RPO’s PR has just issued this statement:

Following media allegations of inappropriate conduct by Charles Dutoit, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and Charles Dutoit have jointly agreed to release him from his forthcoming concert obligations with the orchestra for the immediate future.

As a leading international ensemble, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is committed to the highest standards of ethical behaviour, which it expects from everyone that works with the RPO.  The Orchestra takes very seriously its responsibility to maintain a safe working environment for all its artists, musicians and staff.

These accusations are taken very seriously by the orchestra and the RPO believes that the truth of the matter should be determined by the legal process. The immediate action taken by the RPO and Charles Dutoit allows time for a clear picture to be established. Charles Dutoit needs to be given a fair opportunity to seek legal advice and contest these accusations. 

Dutoit is artistic director and principal conductor of the RPO, its figurehead for the past decade. The orchestra can ill afford to lose him. So they have hedged the statement with such terms as ‘for the immediate future’ and a statement that its expects Dutoit to ‘contest these accusations’.

Dutoit has not issued a response to the claims against him.


Comments (30)

  1. Rob says:

    Goodbye Charlie ?

  2. Been Here Before says:

    I think this is a perfectly reasonable response. Let him defend himself against the accusations. The due process will be respected and the RPO can’t be accused of giving in to the hysteria or witch hunt. If the accusations prove to be true, severe all ties with him.

    1. Stephen Moore says:

      Well said. The ‘truth…should be determined by the legal process’. Quite. All accusers should go to the police not the press.Simple as that.

      1. Luk Vaes says:

        It has never been as simple as that. It all only broke thanks to the power of the press. Police departments all over the world have a lot to explain for the countless times they dus not take complaints seriously, so that victims lost faith in “due process”.

        1. Andy says:

          What if the legal process means CD suing his accusers for defamation?

          Consider different perspectives.

        2. patrick Gillot says:

          So what is your point? To replace the police, judge and jury by the public opinion trial?

    2. Una says:

      That is how we should work in Britain at least – guilty until found otherwise, and not judged by social media or just big mouths. You are dealing with people’s lives, and you are dealing with someone who is now an elderly man.

      1. Furzwängler says:

        Spot on.

      2. Furzwängler says:

        oops! I think you meant “guilty until found otherwise”, surely?

      3. Furzwängler says:

        “NOT guilty until found otherwise” !!!

        I shall get it right in the end!

  3. FS60103 says:

    Players in that orchestra have told me that he’s never been well-liked: one once said to me that they “despised him as a human being”. No idea if that had anything to do with this side of his personality or if he’s just a workplace bully, but it was surprising at the time, because most orchestra players I’ve known usually show at least some regard – however grudging and highly-qualified – for their artistic director.

    1. Andy Thomas says:

      Not really. I can’t think of many UK orchestral musicians that have great respect for their principal conductors. The RLPO have very little time for Vasily Petrenko, neither do the Hallé for Mark Elder and the LPO has never been overly fond of Jurowski.

      1. pooroperaman says:

        ‘The RLPO have very little time for Vasily Petrenko, neither do the Hallé for Mark Elder and the LPO has never been overly fond of Jurowski.

        Considering how much all three have done for those orchestras, what a bunch of ungrateful toerags!

        1. Furzwängler says:

          Seconded and thirded.

      2. Una says:

        My colleagues in the Halle are totally committed to Mark Elder.

    2. Morello says:

      He was and is extremely highly regarded by the RPO players, indeed most orchestral players would agree that he is one of the finest musicians of his generation. That’s entirely separate from his alleged behaviour towards these women.

      1. harold braun says:

        Exactly.Superb conductor,orchestra builder,and unparalelled in French rep.

        1. The View from America says:

          “…and unparalelled in French rep.”

          Err … no.

          1. harold braun says:

            who else????

          2. Bruce says:

            I would say he is paralleled.

          3. The View from America says:

            Yes, Bruce. “Paralleled” is more accurate.

            Among those who have gone before, Ansermet, Beecham, Boulez, Cluytens, Dervaux, Desormiere, Martinon, Monteux, Munch, Paray, Sebastian …

            Among those today, Axelrod, Daniel, Darlington, Deneve, Falletta, Gabel, Krivine, Simon, Tingaud. Some might even place Bringuier, Nezet-Seguin and Salonen on the list.

    3. Anon says:

      But being liked or not liked should be almost irrelevant in the professional world. It is the result that counts. The bottomline. Mutual respect is important for that. Of course it feels better, if you also like your boss. But that’s no reason to voice objections. As long as the rules and the law are respected. Which apparently here was the problem. But another problem than the one you are trying to push into the debate. If he was liked or not by musicians is completely irrelevant.

      There even were leaders who were liked very much, but still were molesters and sexual predators. Like Lenny for instance. Important to not get confused.

      1. Bruce says:

        I had the distinct impression from the OSM affair that the players were willing to put up with his abrasive personality as long as he deployed it in pursuit of musical goals. It only became a problem when he started using rehearsals to belittle &/or get revenge on individual musicians.

  4. Raymond says:

    When commentors like FS60103 report he wasn’t well like by a certain orchestra, it’s not unreasonable for those with opposite opinions to weigh in. Yet both sets of comments are off topic. Likeability just isn’t the issue.

  5. Raymond says:

    To return to the original assertion by NL: no the statement is not a hedge. It says exactly what’s happening in the short term and what it expects in the longer term. Picking out a bit like “for the immediate future” while ignoring the principle they assert (the RPO believes that the truth of the matter should be determined by the legal process) is all too sadly typical of NL’s posturing.

  6. Cubs Fan says:

    Wish someone could post the music video dutoit made of the Prokofieff Classical Symphony. Haven’t seen it myself in a long time, but in light of what’s being said about him now, that video could take on a whole new meaning. All except the gun.

  7. Iain Scott says:

    “Ill afford to lose him” Really? He is an appalling conductor and worse musician. The three concerts I’ve heard him do rank in the bottom three of concerts I’ve attended.
    It’s a sad state of affairs when orchestral managers feel they have to use certain conductors because they believe they are good box office.
    It’s time to seek out the really excellent musicians that don’t gave such connected, pushy agents.

  8. Jaime Herrera says:

    The very best response Dutoit can give is to admit fault (assuming the reports are true – and I really believe they are.) He need not even apologize. He should simply say he is guilty and that he let himself get carried away – a misjudgment on his part. He should not deny it – that would be too cowardly. This is something that has happened to thousands upon thousands of men and women. It is definitely nothing new. Do not forget, nobody lost their life, their career, or even their dignity. Nobody was raped. Dutoit is arrogant, pompous, imperious, and disliked by many but that is not terribly relevant to the situation. Let bygones be bygones. Guilty but,…forgiven.

    1. Iain Scott says:

      I don’t think it is in your gift to forgive.

  9. A.J.S says:

    This casting couch situation in both the Music profession and films has been around for many years. As an ex classical musician I saw countless women throw themselves at conductors and section principals to progress their career and some were even successful! Be careful people. Even if he did all this, was there provocation? if not…..how the hell do you prove that by simply word of mouth he said, she said?


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