A founder’s family mourns the late Minnesota Orchestra

A founder’s family mourns the late Minnesota Orchestra


norman lebrecht

October 28, 2013

This just in from Constance Scheurer:


Dear Family and Friends;
This is why I write what I do. My heart is broken that after 110 years Osmo and the Orchestra I grew up with (my grandfather was a founding member beginning in 1909); now is no more.  The departure of Osmo was the crowning blow, though expected given this whole situation has gone on for years and is international news.  This is has never taken place in the history of classical music.
I have the archives of this family and Orchestra by default.  I was honored to be asked to open the 100 year season.  I was generously given the by-line by Sandra Hyslop and openly wept when she did not change one word of my article.  This is extremely rare in the publishing world.
Now I write something completely different, photos and documents that date back to the 1800’s.
As some of you know in Minnesota, I had at one time seven estates of music which I gifted to ensure the “Notes” played one as Tante Gerde Soergel wanted.   I did not wish the music to live in a vault as so much does!  This includes a whole art collection my grandfather Karl Scheurer gifted the Minneapolis Institute of Arts which to date has never been on display.
I gifted Osmo with an original 1903 Sibelius score when I had the pleasure of meeting him.  He advised that it was ironic as he had recorded it in Lahti.
The loss of this great Orchestra and talent I personally do not believe can be replaced and rebuilt after 110 years of supreme excellence.  That is my own opinion.  I am aware of the high hopes of others’, however; how does one bring back all the talent locked out in excess of one year who lost more that I ever thought possible.
Media outlets are now contacting me for the first time and with offers of monies for the story.  In the past I had done everything “gratis”.
I do not reside in Minnesota at this time, but will always miss such a rich heritage of music, dance, and love.
Thank you all again for the Music of my Life, without Music I would never have been able to dance!
In the darkest times in history the Music played on ~ I will never make sense of what took place in Minnesota and why.
Blessing to you all,


  • Malcolm James says:

    Something will rise phoenix-like from the ashes, but it won’t be the same. It takes years to build a great orchestra and months to destroy it.

  • Terry says:

    The orchestral association may be in ashes, but I assure you that the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra are sounding as great as ever (even with a few first-chair players on leaves of absence), based on what I heard in their early October concerts, the Osmo Farewell Concerts. Osmo may have resigned from the association, but he has not resigned from the musicians!

    The musicians’ independently-produced Fall Season continues with concerts in November and December, conducted by former music directors Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and Eiji Oue, respectively. This story isn’t nearly over yet! For example, the old orchestral association could very well lose control of Orchestra Hall due to their current inability to produce any orchestral concerts, as is required by their lease with the City of Minneapolis.


  • Stereo says:

    Henson,please do the decent thing and go. Luckily Bournemouth still survives but no thanks to you.

  • As both a teacher of music and–especially–as the great nephew of someone instrumental in paving the way for the symphony in the early days, I cannot but feel saddened by these tragic happenings.

    Ernst Schoen-René

    Kingston, New York

  • Alan Penner says:

    Good grief! If this woman is indicative of the type of catalyst the MN Orchestra use to drive the mission of the organization, then I say good riddance. This is the most pecksniffian twaddle I’ve read yet on this orchestra. I’m actually offended.

    • ed says:

      Mr. Penner, from your exclamatory opening I almost expected to see Charlie Brown (or Lucy). You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I thought Constance Scheuer’s statement was not only heartfelt, it was eloquent and summed up the situation in Minnesota quite well. Given her family’s history and involvement with the orchestra, she, as much as anyone, has a right to weigh in as she did.

      If my memory is correct, your point in the past has been the lack of money to pay the Minnesota Symphony players a salary commensurate with their skill and experience. It’s a valid criticism if the money absolutely can’t be found or earned, (or saved) through a more efficient or creative operation, but there are many ways to skin a cat, and up to now management has not delivered.

      Furthermore, my sense is that Minneapolis is now seeing a resurgence of community activism that could bring about results with more creative thinking and public funding, or at least a public-private partnership. This orchestra has been a community asset with a storied history and marvelous musicians, even as it is dying a slow death, and that should count for something.

  • Very sad. You know the heartache and emotion it must have taken for her to write this letter, and then she gets people like Alan making nasty comments.

  • Pamela Brown says:

    Per “Seeking the Infinite”, the life of SS, the move to change the name from the Minneapolis Symphony to the Minnesota Orchestra was fraught with controversy. In fact, its history might be termed ‘tumultuous’ from that point on. Apparently, even Mr. SS overlooked the odd coincidence of the new name to the name of an ill-fated character in Mozart’s last major opera…