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The 2019 New Year’s conductor is not a woman

January 1, 2018 by norman lebrecht

94 comments.


Last week they said this.

Today it’s…

press release:

Christian Thielemann will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert 2019 for the first time.

Vienna Philharmonic Chairman Daniel Froschauer emphasizes the relationship of artistic trust between conductor and orchestra. ‘The deep musical understanding and trust which functioned perfectly from the beginning in the opera has carried over into the concert sector and been very fruitful. For this reason, we have asked Christian Thielemann to take the baton for the New Year’s Concert on January 1, 2019.’


Comments (94)

  1. mr oakmountain says:

    Anybody done the traditional lady count at the New Years Concert yet? I think it must have been 6 or 7 plus the lady on Zither.

    1. Greg Takacs says:

      That’s why they are called “the men of the Philharmonic.”

    2. Anonymous says:

      They are almost all men and probably still the best orchestra in the world. Says something, doesn’t it?

      1. Una says:

        They think they’re the best. They most certainly weren’t the best when they came to the Proms some years ago in London. They just didn’t care less, walked on slap happy and with boring routine programmes as well. No innovation. Perhaps they’ve improved. As for women? Let them get on with their self-made German monastery! Should think many of our outstanding women wouldn’t even want to be on that male atmosphere.

        1. Anon says:

          For someone who doesn’t even know the difference between German and Austrian you come across quite judgmental. Maybe try to learn a bit more int he future, before you build an opinion.
          Oh, and what innovation exactly do you want for a classical music orchestra to implement? Carbon fibre instruments? reading the sheet music from tablet computers? What does ‘innovation’ mean here?
          What about Whiskey? Or Sacher cake? What about innovation there?
          Or what about the way the water flows down the river Thames? No innovation either, tsss, away with that river.

          1. ANONYMOUS says:

            Actually, at the Hotel Sacher, it’s a torte, not a cake. Please don’t insult the Austrian people in such racist ways by denegrating this iconic culinary creation.

          2. ANONYMOUS says:

            Actually, at the Hotel Sacher, it’s a torte, not a cake. Please don’t insult the Austrian people in such racist ways by denegrating this iconic culinary creation.

        2. Thomasina says:

          You have no consideration that this blog owner is Jewish?

    3. herrera says:

      They all had to wear pants.

      1. Una says:

        The vast majority of wonen in wear trousers – or pants as you Americans call tgem – ha, ha- most of the time in all situation unless you’re a celebrity. It’s not sexist fashion parade!

        1. Jaybuyer says:

          Treat yourself to a new keyboard. You’ve deserved it.

      2. Andreas B. says:

        could you provide us with some sort of evidence?
        any interviews, pictures, credibly reported actions that demonstrate CT’s “Nazi views” ?

        I’m horrified at any neo Nazi movement and am convinced that the arts community in particular has a part to play in upholding humanitarian values and speak out against bigotry, discrimination and racism.

        unsupported claims of “Naziism” are not helpful, though.
        it is a serious accusation and should not be used lightly against anyone.

        1. ANONYMOUS says:

          ‘Unsupported?’ You should research him.

          1. Andreas B. says:

            I did.
            being conservative or old fashioned or naive or rightwing or musically tasteless or whatever else some people like to think of CT, do not make a Nazi.

            in any case, it does not work like that. whoever claims something (which in this instance could be considered libellous slander, as in Germany various forms of ‘Nazi behaviour’ are criminal offences), bears the burden of proof.

          2. Thomasina says:

            @Andreas B.: I remember that I have read a article in Le journal de Montréal about the young canadian tourists who visited Berlin. Carelessly they imitated the Nazi salute to take a picture at sightseeing spot. They were arrested by patrol police officers and spent several hours(one night?) at the police station. They had to pay bail to be released and of course they were ashamed of their ignorance… This story tells us that Germany is very tough with the movements of Neo Nazis.

  2. Todd says:

    is it really so unexpected?

    1. Petros Linardos says:

      Of course not. Thielemann has been conducting the VPO for almost 20 years, has made recordings with them and, unlike several other jet set guys or girls, has experience in operetta. So why not? Even for the pc crowd he ticks a box: he is gay.

      1. Amos says:

        Yes and he ticks the anti-immigrant and we must uphold the “old” traditions boxes. A complete bore as a musician (in the Knappertsbusch tradition) and boor as a person.

        1. Sue says:

          But wholeheartedly supported by his base at Dresden – those responsible for putting Merkel into a political wedge of her own making.

          1. Amos says:

            So since his “base” in Dresden supports his modern day [redacted] views that makes it ok? Please tell me that you are not condoning the notion that if the majority support immoral views that that makes them acceptable! For the record as an American I felt compelled to write Dr. Merkel a letter of apology after our duly elected President behaved like the would-be tyrant that he is when she visited DC.

          2. Matt D says:

            Supporting the survival of your culture and civilization is immoral, Amos?

          3. Anon says:

            He is not wholeheartedly supported in Dresden. The populist bottom of society in the streets there doesn‘t care about a classical music conductor. And his real base, the Semperoper and its orchestra, are not ‚in love‘ with him anymore. It‘s a rational union for a limited time, for mutual benefit. Thielemann is too abusive and too difficult of a character, even for an opera house, to be ‚wholeheartedly‘ respected.

          4. Amos says:

            The survival of your “culture and civilization” are imperiled by “others” only in the minds of those who view homogeneity as superior to diversity. Regrettably the “others” hair isn’t in keeping with the Prince Valiant ideal so let’s keep them out. Better yet let’s stereotype them as inferior and inhuman to justify keeping our “culture and civilization” pure. The exception being if they are good enough at football to play for the German National team then they aren’t a threat. Clearly the lessons of WWII are largely lost on some participants in this thread. PS Be sure to purchase your tickets for the Leni Riefenstahl film festival before the Dreseden “base” buys them out.

          5. Anon says:

            Amos, not sure what you are rambling about. You are talking to a self created straw man maybe? Nobody has argued for homogeneity or labeled anyone inferior or inhumane.
            The only question is how does one maintain and develop further what one has achieved over centuries. Something worthwhile maintaining and developing.

  3. Stephen Munslow says:

    Never mind binary, when are we going to have a transgender conductor?

    1. Sue says:

      Yes, when will that be? (Stamps foot). And when performing seals? Finally, when will we have more conductors with the Prince Valiant hairstyle? Surely that’s more to the point:

      http://g.purevolumecdn.com/cdnImages/crop_345x235/58751-318-1087935447-prinz.jpg

    2. Player says:

      First time I have heard anyone describe him as a Nazi. Wow.

      And your evidence is what?

    3. Andreas B. says:

      concerning Thielemann’s presence in the US, there is an interesting article in the NY Times from 2013 which does not quite seem to support your view:
      https://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/arts/music/christian-thielemann-conductor-at-wagners-bicentennial.html?referer=https://www.google.de/

      also again, as Player says, could you please provide evidence for your ‘Nazi’ claim?

  4. Urania says:

    He is totally overrated and the WPO will go on in the old ‘rythm’ as long as it does pay. Not much about art anymore. I want a New Year’s Concert maybe with Morten Lauridsen and Jonathan Dove, Bruckner also Liszt and so on. The waltzing can be done as well before or whatever….. people need new inspirations.

    1. harold braun says:

      There are new years concerts with different rep.But in Vienna,it is,and should be mainly about the Strauss dynasty and some composers of this tradition,and not Morten Lauridsen.same as Bayreuth shouldn´t perform Fledermaus or Tosca.BTW,in recent years,at the VPO New Years concerts were also played works by Haydn,Schubert,Liszt,Lumbye,R.Strauss,Brahms,and more.

    2. #HISPITHUNARKOLADENZIETZ says:

      Overrated??i heard him do the entire Ring Cycle at Beiruth in four straight nights when he was only twelve!

  5. Robert says:

    Brilliant decision – looking forward to it already

    1. Sue says:

      Same, even though the repertoire is froth and bubbles. I get a chance to see Vienna once again, from afar. And they do seem to have lots of women in the orchestra now!! That ought to shut up the PC Police. I thought Muti looked elegant last night.

  6. MacroV says:

    I know he has his detractors, but seriously, he’s a brilliant conductor. And given the length of his relationship with the VPO it’s surprising this would be his first time. And I’ve seen him talk about learning from Karajan the importance of being able to conduct Lehar and his ilk. I actually see this as being Kleiberesque in terms of its musical significance (though I liked Pretre, too).

    BTW, they’re long gone, but I’m sorry the VPO never invited Bernstein or Solti; both would have been intriguing.

    1. Urania says:

      Yes, learning from Karajan….always nice to tell….

    2. Beaumont says:

      Bernstein was to conduct, unfortunately he died – Kleiber took over (his number two concert); Bernstein was also to conduct the Mozart Requiem in December 1991 in St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna – which Solti was entrusted with.

    3. harold braun says:

      They did invite Bernstein,but he died before.

  7. Excellent!!! He is a brilliant conductor, even if he is probably better in Richard than Johann…

  8. Jackyt says:

    Watching the whole concert on TV, there were three (or four) lady violinists, a piccolo player, a harpist and the zither soloist. These were all the female musicians I could see. Someone mentioned they thought there were more last year, but I couldn’t be sure.

    1. Andrew Condon says:

      If we have to keep counting every year in order to satisfy the PC brigade, for what its worth there were actually 5 lady violinists (4 firsts and one second), the piccolo and harp. The Zither doesn’t count as she was a guest – certainly the first female soloist as such since Kathleen Battle for Karajan in 1987. The WPH roster of female players is far larger than a few years ago but the number who play for the New Years concert obviously depends on availability and scheduling

      1. David R Osborne says:

        Seven out of ninety odd? Problem solved then.

        1. Sue says:

          I didn’t realize there was a “problem”!! I’ve always loved the WPO and couldn’t care less about their affirmative action policies and other arid political ideologies.

        2. Matt D says:

          A few years ago it was one or two out of ninety so. Do you expect the orchestra to simply fire male players to make room for the agenda?

    2. Mike_T says:

      Surprised they admit any women at all, TBH. We are talking about the Wiener Philharmoniker here (the clue’s in the name); surely they lack the necessary equipment?

      (ba-dum tssssh!)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why not someone who isn’t overrated like Blomstedt, Vanska, or Bychkov?

    1. Anon says:

      Blomstedt never rehearses on Saturdays. Find him a year where that fits with the schedule and he can do it. The man looks to be fit for at least another 20 years of music making so no rush.

  10. matteo says:

    “Last week they (Daniel Froschauer) said this”: ‘Wir würden uns zudem freuen, wenn auch einmal eine Dame am Pult steht’, which does not mean “we, the Vienna Philharmonic, are going to appoint Norman Lebrecht’s favourite female conductor for the next New Year’s Concert”.

    It means: “if one day there will be a talented female conductor and we’ll have with her a close 48-year long (like Muti) or a 18-year long (like Thielemann) artistic relationship, then we’re definitely going to appoint her for the New Year’s Concert”.

    Thielemann is a great choice: the Vienna Phil adores him, Vienna adores him, Dresden adores him. Norman Lebrecht hates him… but thanks God, apart from spilling bile on this website, he does not have much influence on Vienna Philharmonic’s appointments.

    1. harold braun says:

      Spot on!!!!!

      1. Sue says:

        Agree!! Christian, we love your work!! And your “Prince Valiant” hair!!

    2. Thomasina says:

      Perhaps Mr.Lebrecht does not like him, but at least he brought a respectful picture (than usual) for this news.

      1. Petros Linardos says:

        In all fairness, we haven’t seen in this blog the Thielemann photo with the strange shadow for quite some time.

        1. Max Grimm says:

          I don’t think 31 days really qualifies as “quite some time”.
          http://slippedisc.com/page/24/

          1. Petros Linardos says:

            I was thinking of the black and white shot from the Bayreuth pit, where the shadow created the illusion of a Hitler mustache.

          2. Max Grimm says:

            Ah, true. That picture has indeed been absent from these pages for some time.
            The one NL used for the November 30th post is the “lite” version of the Thielemann shadow-mustache pictures used here on SD.

  11. really... says:

    You really sit in front of the concert counting how many women are sitring on stage instead of listening to the music?
    At least on the 1st of the year be nice to yourself: relax and enjoy the music!
    Pointing the finger is you favourite sport during the next 364 days…
    Prosit Neujahr!

  12. harold braun says:

    That´s simply because there is no woman who is as good a conductor as he is.Maybe in 10 or twenty years,but not now.It is about quality,not equality.As it should be in arts.

  13. V says:

    The annual VPO New Year concerts are so boring and nauseating. The earlier concerts with Boskovsky were great. Some really great years after that: Karajan (88′) then Kleiber (89′, 91′). I’ve stopped watching for years now. Not missing much. Doesn’t matter who the conductors are next year or the year after…yawn.

    1. harold braun says:

      Harnoncourt,Barenboim,and above all,Pretre´s two concerts were also wonderful.Much more inspired than Boskovsky´s

      1. Sue says:

        I can’t stand the balletic episodes in these concerts; and I suspect, because of the huge interval periods, that they are a blend of the Sylvester Concerts (the 2 nights) before and the Neujahrskonzert. Last night a 30 minute interval after 40 minutes’ playing and then 2 more hours. If you look at the Kleiber concerts which ended up on DVD you can see two very different audiences.

        1. James says:

          So why watch? Also, what concerts of today would have the same audiences as
          in 88 and 91? Mista Kleiber, he daid. Europe has changed, as does every place.
          People have a little way of aging and dying. I was at the Berlin Philharmonic Sylvester concert yesterday, hardly the audience Karajan would have drawn
          30 years back. Mista Karajan, he daid too.

        2. Matt D says:

          I agree. Would much rather see more footage of that glorious city and surroundings than the dancing.

      2. ben LEGEBEKE says:

        Boskovsky gave some feeling of a little bit to be drunk of champagn from the night before. I liked his concerts. The best were in my opinion Karajan, Kleiber, some of Maazel and the first of Pretre. Ozawa also gave a energized 2002 performance….

    2. Matt D says:

      What was different about the Boskovsky concerts, other than that it was always him?

  14. Thomasina says:

    Sorry for those who hate him but what a wonderful news for me! Whether love him or not, I wish a good year to all readers of this blog.

  15. jaypee2 says:

    What a lovely idea…the far-right members of the Austrian government are certainly happy with this decision.
    On a personal level, I’ve always wanted to have music from Hans Pfitzner, Carl Orff and Werner Egk performed at that concert…

    1. Cubs Fan says:

      Yes, and Franz Schmidt, Korngold, Schrecker, Goldmark…I can’t take all that saccharine Strauss. Too much like Andre Rieu. Thielemann is gay? Who knew!

      1. jaypee2 says:

        Who said that Thielemann was gay? I certainly didn’t…

        Strauss “too much like Andre Rieu”? You’re kidding, right?

        As for the point of my message, it obviously escaped you… Although you weren’t far off with Franz Schmidt…

        1. James says:

          Rattle’s successor Kiril Petrenko appears only once with the Berlin Philharmonic this season and he is doing Franz Schmidt’s 4th Symphony. Were it Thieleman, the
          hell hounds would be snarling and foaming at the mouth, but with Petrenko it’s all humble adoration. Right on, Kiril!

          1. Sue says:

            One is eye candy and the other one is not. Just sayin’!!

      2. jaypee2 says:

        This may help you get my point: https://www.francemusique.fr/musiques-de-films/polemique-autour-du-concert-du-nouvel-de-la-staatskapelle-de-dresde-57783

        And in case it’s still not clear: I have nothing but conptempt for this person and his repulsive political orientation.

    2. James says:

      I first heard Carl Orff in concert in the Roman amphitheatre Ceasarea, Israel in 1969.
      Carmina Burana, it was. And a good time was had by all, with no mindless selfserving talk of censorship. Those were the days. Of course, the Israeli
      far-right governtments came later, and came to stay.

    3. Sue says:

      Oh, is THAT what it takes to live in a safe country where you can walk through Vienna at any hour of the day or night completely unmolested and unafraid. Well, that’s how it used to be. Not sure about now.

      1. jaypee2 says:

        Gee, Sue, I don’t know.. Far-right wing extremists weren’t in the government between 2002 and 2017 and Vienna is still the same. Better, Vienna has been ruled by a socialist-green coalition since 2010 and everything is fine.
        But, hey, why am I even discussing with you: you’re a trumpanzee… Tell me more about your third-world country and its crime rate…

        http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

        Way to go!

        1. Matt D says:

          Been to Vienna? Graffiti everywhere, even at Karlsplatz. Crime is up. Vienna’s not as far along the path of progressive annihilation as some other Eurocities, but it’s not what it used to be.

  16. Rob says:

    Interesting who will be chosen for the 80th NYD concert anniversary in two years. I hope they choose Andre Previn, who will be approaching his 90th.

    1. Sue says:

      I rather think he’s on batteries already!!

      1. Rob says:

        If thats what it takes.

  17. herrera says:

    This year’s concert was another beautiful 60 minute commercial provided by the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.

    1. Sue says:

      I guess their thinking is, “if it’s working for you keep doing it”!!

      1. Mike Schachter says:

        They seem to have no difficulty in selling tickets, whatever one thinks of the VPO

  18. Rob says:

    2018 concert was quite dull. Remember Maazel? He used to have such fun playing instruments and joking with the orchestra.

  19. Sue says:

    @ Amos: And I’m waiting for an apology to the people of European sovereign nations for the “Facebook invitation” she offered the third world which entailed tramping through their countries. The woman is a disgraceful dictator.

    1. Amos says:

      Please see my earlier reply to you and Matt. Your posts clearly demonstrate that the Trump/Mussolini-inspired fringe can be found glued to the FOX “News” channel or a website devoted to classical music. Absolutely frightening.

  20. HSY says:

    Who is going to conduct the next Silvesterkonzert in Dresden, though?

    1. erich says:

      It will be Welser-Möst in Dresden next year, according to the grapevine…..

      1. Anon says:

        And the zdf is doing what next year? Back to Berlin?

  21. Vaquero357 says:

    Thielemann makes total sense. He’s been around long enough, conducted the VPO often enough, and is generally established as a Big Name conductor. I get it that some people are dubious about his actual talents. I’ll say that he usually comes through (whenever I’ve heard him) with decently organized, coordinated interpretations that may not be life-altering. But good enough.

    Gotta say: I can’t help liking the way the VPO does the passive-aggressive “and the horse you rode in on” with outsiders who keep trying to tell them how to run their orchestra. (Even when I don’t agree with their underlying policy(ies).) Take THAT, busybodies!!

  22. Andreas B. says:

    why has my reply to Mr(s)Schwa (?) comment been removed, together with the original comment and also Player’s reply?

    1. norman lebrecht says:

      Mr Schwa’s comment was defamatory.

      1. Andreas B. says:

        thank you for the prompt answer!

        I understand, although to me Amos’s “modern day national socialist” seems also objectionable.

        in the meantime, trying to find out more about CT’s political views, I’ve read the Slippedisc entry with some interesting comments about his Die Zeit pegida article:

        http://slippedisc.com/2015/01/christian-thielemann-we-should-listen-to-pegida-issues/

        and also the NY Times article I mentioned in my now removed comment:

        https://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/arts/music/christian-thielemann-conductor-at-wagners-bicentennial.html?referer=https://www.google.de/

        I can understand labelling him rightwing, conservative, perhaps politically naive. I also understand why people object to some of his choices of repertoire and doubt his merits as a conductor –
        however, using Nazi accusations against Thielemann without actual proof is in my view not useful and actually dangerous in the fight against bigotry, discrimination and racism.

        1. norman lebrecht says:

          thank you for pointing out Amos’s misstatement.

      2. Frank Jaeger says:

        …which is by any legal and moral standard utterly true, especially when the accusator doesn’t come up with proof or reference to support his or her claim regarding the accused.
        Similar distasteful behaviour closed down various other blogs and internet fora. And though the libel laws might not be similar in various jurisdictions, basic rules of civilised behaviour should be.

      3. Thomasina says:

        Oh, Mr.Lebrecht! Thank you for deleting the abominable comments with two abominable words. I intended to write a comment to support Mr.Andreas B. but I had to wait for work break(time difference…). Thank you again!

        1. norman lebrecht says:

          My pleasure. The comment should never have passed moderation in the first place.


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