Breaking: Major blow for Brazil Symphony Orchestra – Kurt Masur cancels his concerts

Breaking: Major blow for Brazil Symphony Orchestra – Kurt Masur cancels his concerts


norman lebrecht

July 26, 2011

I am receiving reports from Rio that Kurt Masur has pulled out of his Beethoven concerts with the OSB.

A mentor of the crisis-stricken chief conductor Roberto Minczuk, Masur initially offered him public support in an open letter, urging the orchestra’s musicians to do as he told them.

But since 33 players were dismissed it has proved difficult to replace them and the venerable German conductor has wisely decided to remove himself from the thick of the controversy.

His cancellation has yet to be confirmed by the orchestra’s management. Minczuk has been stripped of the artistic director title, but continues to describe himself as such on his website and facebook page.

The crisis is no nearer resolution.


  • The cancellation of Kurt Masur shows how far Roberto Minczuk and the OSB management have droven the orchestra down. The question is, when and by whom this tragedy will be led to an happy end.

    • AVI says:

      Er, before we go too far Gerald, I suggest this cancellation shows nothing of the sort.
      As far as I read, Mr. Masur has cancelled engagements in several cities & several countries due to health difficulties. That rather suggests that puling out of com gin to Brazil is more to do with his health and less to do with the OSB situation – unless you are suggesting that pulling out of the other concerts too was a smokescreen, but that seems a bit far-fetched!

  • Rob Weir says:

    Dear Norman,

    Given that I was at ground zero on this Masur thing I can’t hide my initial feelings upon hearing this bit of information. I wish I could give him more credit for pulling out but I am, instead, left with the notion that after blindly, and with no real forethought, stirring the pot of salacious behavior and action taken by his “boy” and the FOSB, he slipped his tail between his legs and now takes cover. Running away and hiding while Rome burns. Real courage and action would be in the form of an open letter of apology and admission to his poor judgement along with a plea for forgiveness. Perhaps even lending a hand at reconciliation? But no, that would and could not happen as he so deftly dropped the ball at the first chance I presented him in maybe helping to defuse this crisis. Let’s not make the error in coupling him with heros like Nelson Freire, Cristina Ortiz and others. They acted swiftly and with dignity. His, as I see it, is merely an act of self preservation unless he publicly states otherwise. I would like to openly issue this challenge to him via your blog. Do the right think, Maestro.

    Thanks for your continued coverage, Norman, and I continue to support the good people of Brazil as they struggle to make some sense out of this debacle.

    Rob Weir
    San Francisco Symphony

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Bob,

      Thank you for your post. I am very glad to read your lines. Let me express my support of your point of view.


  • Norman: what is going on is a farce: there IS no Orchestra. They are desperatly starting to invite special public in closed concerts, only so they ‘feel’ more like normality. Far from it.
    As of today shamefully, they offered exactly what was behind this saga from the start which is to force the ‘fired’ musicians to feel obliged to audition in order to provide the Fosb with.. an instrument / Orchestra.

    For whom to lead them? Do you think these people, these commitees are living in Mars? Are they not aware of their stupidity?
    How can that one person not fall? Possibly because he’ll bring them down too. He has a history of meaness in firing people on Christmas Eve, out of the blue — or better still, to get others (Neschling in SP),to do his dirty work for him, unable to confront any one face to face.

    All of this, nevertheless was his own doing; now there is no way out! It’s a shame and unthinkable that in his litlle mind he believes he can still have it his way– in case they’d accept the same scheme this time round — and stand in front of these deeply hurt and humiliated honest and good musicians, who will crawl back to see him wave his arms around in front of them? Is it his belief that they will just forget his unacceptable acts and smile and ‘play’ for him? It’s gone too far.How about trust, inspiration, respect?

    The one honourable thing would have been for him to have decided: ”I must go now, it didn’t work — I went really insanely wrong about this egotistic scheme of mine’ — and go back to Canada while they still want him..

    Rio deserves to get its cultural heritage back and running as the oldest and most traditional of all the musical ensembles in the country. It’s been TOO long. If not soon, any sense of logic, goodness and justice will crumble and every hope one can have of a beautiful future in Music in gorgeous Rio, will desintegrate for generations.

    PS: they are still publicizing concerts by the soloists who have cancelled, like Mederos and J. Bell… what marketing is that? Actually to have ”allowed” RM to go out on stage on that doomed 9th of April!. He’s now fleeing Rio’s wrath to perform with another orchestra in SP this coming weekend… It beggars disbelief if he gest away with that!

    More puzzled by the minute, C* Ortiz

  • Rodrigo Golevsky says:

    FOSB is acting really dirty! They are announcing concerts with artists that already cancelled their participations as soloists/conductors. That is unacceptable!

    People shouldn’t support “OSB” concerts. Audience members and musicians should not allow Roberto Minczuk to conduct (repeating what happened on April 9th)! He is guest conducting OSESP in a few days. People from Sao Paolo should just NOT GO!!

    I also think that OSESP is doing something very wrong. They invited Mr. Minczuk to conduct a concert, celebrating his brother’s 30-year anniversary playing with the orchestra. This is appellative and such important orchestra should NOT take sides. By inviting him to guest conduct the orchestra, they are showing their sympathy with Minczuk acts in Rio de Janeiro.

    There are so many talented Brazilian conductors that could lead the OSB and help the orchestra to re-establish its peace. Today’s most important Brazilian conductors are Isaac Karabtchevsky, Fabio Mechetti, Marcelo Lehninger and Roberto Tibirica. Any of them could help in restructuring the OSB… But for some stupid reason, OSB management insists in keeping Minczuk as chief conductor. The question that remains is: why?

    We should also know that he (Minczuk) will continue acting as Artistic Director “behind the scene”, and that the two “professionals” that FOSB hired to take on the Artistic Director duties were put there to distract people from the ONLY solution for OSB: Minczuk out!!

    • Mario Torres says:

      You sounds a bit angry, that does not help, come down, it looks like you are taking rat poison to kill Minczuk but it’s doing no good for you. Musicians and the people of Sao Paulo really do not give a dam for the OSB, that’s the truth.

  • George Brown says:

    Well, it simply proves that, YET again: no matter how influential, rich or powerful they may be, bullies are nothing but cowards at their core. And that goes for Minczuk, Mazur, Carvalho and the entire lot of the FOSB.

  • Mario Torres says:

    How come people can be so ridiculous, Mazur is sick and he is 84 and need some peace and quiet. This is nothing to do with Minczuk or OSB.

  • Genna says:

    This is the official notice FBSO got from Mr. Masur’s managers:

    “Due to a medical treatment that has been done since May 2011 and which resulted in cancellations in Paris, Israel, St. Petersburg and Leipzig, the conductor Kurt Masur was advised by his doctors not to work or travel, and rest for throughout the summer to continue the necessary medical treatment. Maestro Masur regrets not being able to come to Brazil in August this crucial moment, emphasizes his deep respect for Roberto Minczuk and sends her love to the OSB. He hopes to return in June 2012 and continue its collaboration with the OSB and Maestro Minczuk in concerts and master classes. “

  • Gena Kupperheimer says:

    For the angry of many OSB is back, take a look at the latest video release from the last July 22 concert: