The Giant Conductor: a maestro mourns

The Giant Conductor: a maestro mourns


norman lebrecht

January 27, 2012

We have just received this tribute from Sakari Oramo, chief condcutor of Helsinki Radio and the Stockholm Philharmonic:


A Giant Conductor, a demanding but warm-hearted man. To me, especially revelatory was the transparent style of his last decade of conducting, devoid of anything external, for example in Brahms symphonies.

A man with a marvelous sense for black humor. I feel very honored to be following in Paavo´s footsteps as the Music Director of both the Finnish Radio Symphony and the Stockholm Philharmonic. Paavo set unprecedented standards of quality for Nordic orchestras during the 60´s, 70´s and 80´s, standards that are still today valid. On the first of February I will conduct the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in Vienna Musikverein. The orchestra´s last appearance in that venue was with Paavo at the helm in 1987. Tonight we observed a moment of reminiscence in Paavo´s honor at the start of our concert in Stockholm.


  • Nelson Armitano says:

    I had the great honor of playing under Mr Berglund’s baton only once, in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, with the city’s already nonexistent Philharmonic Orchestra – pianist John Lill was the soloist. This was in May 1984.
    An eleven day tour to HongKong followed that performance and we all had the opportunity to know this great maestro in a closer, more personal situation. Eating together, afternoons at the swimming pool, all this days shared also with his family … What a lovely man he showed to be.

    Mr. Berglund liked playing Chamber Music whenever he had the chance to find interested partners. During that week in Amsterdam, before leaving for HK, I and two other members of the orchestra sat to read string quartets wit him. He was left handed so he was carrying his adapted violin, and a marvelous set of bows! … At one moment during that afternoon, he inquired about the other violinist’s instrument. He asked if he could try it … Well! that was the crowning moment in a most delightful and marvelous learning experience. He not only tried the violin but proceeded to play an entire quartet, flawlessly and with such mastery and musicality – in an instrument with normal set-up! .. mind you. Needless to say, we were all speechless and dumbfounded.

    We should all honor this man’s life and his legacy to music making.