Vienna pulls a long face

Vienna pulls a long face


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2011

Claus Helmut Drese who led the Vienna opera through the second half of the 1980s and signed up Claudio Abbado as music director, has died at the age of 88. Cue for a flood of crocodile tears.

The Viennese media, forgetting that it was they who drove him out of town, are trotting out all the usual platitudes of gratitude and lament, none more so than Die Presse, his chief tormentor. The State Opera, from which he was effectively fired, has added its own polite tributes.

Drese inherited the mess of Lorin Maazel’s departure in 1984 (after a brief morbid, interregnum by Egon Seefehlner) and turned the house round quite effectively over four years before an interfering culture minister introduced him one bright day to his designated successors. He worked out his contract until 1991, the Mozart Year, at which point Abbado also walked out and Vienna entered an epoch of mediocrity.
Not that you will read that in the Viennese papers.


  • David Snyder says:

    Typical for Vienna. I’m sure the shade of Mahler is ruefully watching.

  • Brendan Carroll says:

    Karl Kraus once said:
    “Vienna is always Vienna. That is the greatest curse I know”