Other side of the Dude

Other side of the Dude


norman lebrecht

November 03, 2009

Amid the hoopla and hullabaloo of Gustavo Dudamel’s arrival in Los Angeles, few seem to have noticed that he has quietly renewed as music director in Gothenburg, Swden, for the next three years.

The Swedes can never be faulted for discretion. Over the last four years they have enabled the Venezuelan wonderstick to learn his repertoire out of the world’s limelight, working with a band that expects a conductor to push out the envelope every time he steps on the rostrum.

Gothenburg, I have written elsewhere, is top dog among Scandinavian orchestras, a league apart from the Stockholm Phil, where Alan Gilbert toiled for eight dull years. It was led for quarter of a century by Neeme Jarvi and the Dude took over after a nervous interregnum with the Swiss conductor, Mario Venzago.

If Dudamel has hit top spot on i-Tunes with Mahler One this month, that triumph is founded on the grey winter hours he put in among the impassive Swedes. ‘I love the musicians of this orchestra and the work we do together,’ said Dudamel, on signing the contract, ‘you cannot imagine my enthusiasm for continuing to build on what we have achieved.’

Credit for his Gothenburg grounding belongs to Ed Smith, Simon Rattle’s former sidekick in Birmingham. Smith is leaving Gothenburg in the New Year but he will continue to advise the orchestra and its whizz-man in his ever-immaculate way.



  • You can hear my exclusive radio interview program with Dudamel from January 2009 discussing, inter alia, Gothenburg and his decision to renew there the first time (to 2011) in late 2008. It’s a fairly candid exchange:
    [Scroll down to Dudamel interviews]
    Andrew Patner
    WFMT Radio Chicago and wfmt.com
    Chicago Sun-Times