Kurt Masur faces musician rage in San Francisco

Kurt Masur faces musician rage in San Francisco


norman lebrecht

March 14, 2011

The ripples from the suspension of the entire Brazil Symphony Orchestra (OSB) are spreading fast. The conductor Kurt Masur, who posted an open letter in support of his conductor protégé Roberto Minczuk, was confronted by an angry bassoonist when he conducted yesterday in the US. Here’s the musician’s summary:

Dear Mr. Masur.
I hope you enjoyed your week with us here in San Francisco. I think the concerts were a great success. While I was left with fond memories of our Mendelssohn collaborations I’m afraid my memory of our lengthy discussion about the OSB situation will not be so fondly remembered by me. 

I had been led to believe from your tremendous personal history of achievements in building social and artistic change in Europe and elsewhere, that we could expect the same wisdom and careful thought to be applied by you with regards to the horrible developments in Brazil. I relayed to my friends throughout the international music community that I truly believed you would help your friend, Roberto Minzcuk, come to the realization that change, however it may be wanted or maybe even needed, must only occur primarily with the best interests of the individuals and stakeholders taken into account and secondarily to serve a broader agenda and community. 

I would never have believed that an almost cavalier and ultimately damaging approach to achieving “artistic” excellence would have been so erroneously endorsed by you. I must believe that you are, I am afraid to say, being bamboozled. You spoke to me of the history of the orchestra and wit it your associations with many players who are a part of that history. I simply cannot believe that, armed with factual and measured information you would be willing to throw these people to the dogs! 

That cannot be your intention but it is what you are saying in your unbridled support of Mr. Minzcuk and his band of henchmen. At the very least you must be made aware of the pure fact that you are not doing him, Minzcuk, any favors what so ever by encouraging this behavior. The eyes of the international music community are focusing in greater numbers on this man and they do NOT like what they are seeing. We are not a vindictive bunch but we are loyal to our colleagues and they are being unfairly attacked. Mr. Minzcuk is running the risk of alienating himself from the very community of musicians that he depends upon for good musical collaboration and, in turn his very livelihood. Perhaps, like other dictatorial and delusional “leaders” he cannot see this. A pity as it is indeed there and, in the end, he will be eaten by his own imagined sense of power.
So, as my friend Ole Bohn has said, it is not too late to go back and begin the process of healing these self inflicted wounds. One of the greatest gifts a human being can give to another is the ability to admit a mistake. People have an amazing capacity to forgive when the forgiveness is requested with humility and dignity. It is NOT too late, I am choosing to believe, even for you Mr. Masur. Look at ALL the facts and then you will, no doubt, want to reassess your position and that of Mr. Minzcuk.

All the best of wishes to you and your lovely wife.
Looking ahead to further shared musical experiences.

Rob Weir
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra


  • Anon says:

    @ Rob Weir
    Further to my comment on NL’s other thread:
    … what methods do you suggest an orchestra should employ to deal with players who are below par, players who are seriously sub-standard, players who can’t be bothered to improve, players who spoil a concert by their attitude or poor performances… etc.?
    Who should evaluate the player(s) and how, and who says who is under-performing and when?
    How should such under-performance be tackled?
    What sanctions can and should be applied if things don’t improve?
    Who would apply those, and what appeal should a player have?
    Rather than sharing your dissatisfaction with how those in Brazil are trying to improve their artistic standards, might you care to share your ideas as to how they, and other orchestras, can do things better?

  • Josué Morgenroth says:

    Mr. Weir,
    I do not know you and you do not know me. I am from São Paulo, I do play an instrument ( I do not feel obliged to tell which one) and have finished my studies in the former East Germany, in Leipzig. Not sure how close you know Herr Mazur but he is familiar with Brazil for more than 40 years, so when he says something about music and orchestras in Brazil he deserves respect.
    He knows the BSO a zillion times more than you and he is very engaged with the brazilian orchestras and musicians, something that you Mr. Weir, the bassoonist, cannot say. I would like to make notice that who is conveying the news and facts to you about the BSO in Rio or Brazil in general must be someone that you are trying to protect, this individual must be in desperation mode to make you confront Herr Mazur.
    Only someone insane or complete lost would make such questions to a person with the caliber of Herr Mazur.
    For your information, BSO musicians are famous for such revolutions, they already expelled two well know and top brazilian conductors, Roberto Tibiriça, was not good for them and also the famous and respected Mr. Karabtchevsky. No one is good for them, interesting.
    What should we expect from these musicians then? Garbage in garbage out.
    PS. May be you should come to Brazil and visit and learn about the country one day, you probably are one of those that thinks we speak Spanish. Try to get a visa before you became a persona non Grata after saying so many bad things about our great country in South America, Brazil. We do not need you Yankees here.
    Josué Morgenroth