Boulez and 160 maestros join public appeal to stop orchestra merger

Boulez and 160 maestros join public appeal to stop orchestra merger


norman lebrecht

November 13, 2013

An impassioned op-ed in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung today call for a halt to the forced merger between the southwest radio orchestra in Stuttgart and its more adventurous rival in Baden-Baden (where Pierre Boulez has a home).

The petition is an extraordinarily public outburst in the private, consensual world of German orchestra management. Public demonstrations are planned tomorrow in Baden-Baden and elsewhere. The SWR boss, Peter Boudgoust, is being depicted as the archetype bureaucratic philistine.

Here’s the list of signatories (more maestros than you’ve ever seen on one sheet since Ronald Wilford gave up active management):

David Afkham

Guido Ajmone-Marsan

Gerd Albrecht

Marc Albrecht

Alain Altinoglu

Stefan Asbury

Moshe Atzmon

Roland Bader

Hermann Bäumer

Serge Baudo

George Benjamin

Hans Michael Beuerle

Herbert Blomstedt

Pieter-Jelle de Boer

Fabrice Bollon

Ivor Bolton

Pierre Boulez

Martyn Brabbins

Alexander Briger

Sylvain Cambreling

Carmen Maria Cârneci

Robert Casteels

Friedrich Cerha

Gabriel Chmura

Myung-Whun Chung

David Robert Coleman

Denis Comtet

Teodor Currentzis

Joshard Daus

Thomas Dausgaard

Dennis Russell Davies

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

Jacques Delacôte

Andreas Delfs

Kasper de Roo

Jean Deroyer

Christoph von Dohnányi

Klaus Donath

Charles Dutoit

Christoph Eberle

Sian Edwards

Titus Engel

Roger Epple

Peter Eötvös

Asher Fisch

Ádám Fischer

Thierry Fischer

Tilo Fuchs

Hortense von Gelmini

Michael Gielen

Johannes Goritzki

Clytus Gottwald

Konstantia Gourzi

Eivind Gullberg Jensen

Leopold Hager

Friedrich Haider

Michael Halász

Johannes Harneit

Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Olaf Henzold

Pablo Heras-Casado

Peter Hirsch

Heinz Holliger

Rupert Huber

Eliahu Inbal

Pietari Inkinen

Neeme Järvi

Marek Janowski

Johannes Kalitzke

Kirill Karabits

Peter Keuschnig

Bernhard Klee

Roland Kluttig

Bernhard Kontarsky

Ton Koopman

Kazimierz Kord

Gérard Korsten

Dieter Kurz

Franz Lang

Yoel Levi

Alexander Liebreich

Wolfgang Lischke

Brad Lubman

Michael Luig

Susanna Mälkki

Othmar M. F. Mága

Diego Masson

Mark Mast

Farhad Mechkat

Cornelius Meister

Jacques Mercier

Ingo Metzmacher

Alicja Mounk

Rainer Mühlbach

Christoph-Mathias Mueller

Uwe Mund

Kent Nagano

Günter Neuhold

Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Ulrich Nicolai

Grzegorz Rafael Nowak

Arnold Östman

Gabor Ötvös

Franck Ollu

Kazushi Ōno

Krzysztof Penderecki

Alejo Pérez

Robert HP Platz

Emilio Pomàrico

Pierre-Dominique Ponnelle

Christoph Poppen

David Porcelijn

Christof Prick

Hans-Martin Rabenstein

Manfred Reichert

Burkhard Rempe

Peter Richter de Rangenier

Helmuth Rilling

Pascal Rophé

Peter Rundel

Donald Runnicles

Pablo Rus Broseta

Peter Ruzicka

Oswald Sallaberger

Thomas Sanderling

Nello Santi

Jukka-Pekka Saraste

Heinrich Schiff

Urs Schneider

Hanns-Martin Schneidt

Eberhard Schoener

Michael Schønwandt

Holger Schröter-Seebeck

Uri Segal

Leif Segerstam

José Serebrier

Leo Siberski

Nicolas Simon

Stanisław Skrowaczewski

Sir William Southgate

Christopher Sprenger

Alois Springer

Jonathan Stockhammer

Yoav Talmi

Arturo Tamayo

Michael Tilson Thomas

Francis Travis

Wolfgang Trommer

Mario Venzago

Ilan Volkov

Edo de Waart

Hans Wallat

Volker Wangenheim

Ralf Weikert

Günther Wich

Gerhard Wimberger

Jürg Wyttenbach

Lothar Zagrosek

Hans Zender

David Zinman

boulez swr



  • Simon says:

    Why does the name of the informal chief conductor of the Chancellor’s favourite festival never appear on lists like this one?

  • (Male) orchestral musician says:

    Four women by my count out of 160 signatories…off topic I know but wow! The patriarchy reigns supreme.

    • Misha says:

      I also noticed the conductor list’s unusual male/female divide. We are waiting for a superstar lady conductor to appear. That will change everything. None of the lady maestros I have heard so far have been anything more than competent.

      • (Male) orchestral musician says:

        I’m assuming you haven’t come across Marin Alsop or Simone Young yet? I would rate both of these female conductors as far more than “competent”…

    • Male,

      I’m Male, I’m not a musician, and I’ve got many years in a top 5 financial business. I couldn’t understand you mathematics. 160 out of 4, right? It’s means 2,5% of the total. What should be a situation far from patriarchy reigns supreme? Let’s say 50%, perhaps even 40% would sound a good balance? I think so, don’t you? Please, could you provide 80 or even 64 names of women conductors? At least they should be at the professional level of the rest of the list, In order to real keep equity. As you know equity isn’t one sauce for the goose and another for the gander. I’m sorry, I cannot understand the mathematical point such one + one = two, that you are using here to accuse the list as patriarchy supreme. If you aren’t accusing the list but the world, you’re right. It was really top-notch off topic and sounds like a pure critic to the list and intentions inside it. Please, these conductors are united against something important, and right now doesn’t matter their gender.

      • (Male) orchestral musician says:

        That was kind of my point Roberto – female conductors (in my experience) receive less encouragement, fewer opportunities and are also often judged more harshly than their male colleagues, including on their appearance. Perhaps we had a language misunderstanding, I wasn’t accusing the list of being patriarchal but the orchestral world. For the record, there are also plenty of very average male conductors on the list alongside some brilliant ones…but that’s beside the point 🙂

    • Sinead Hayes says:

      I’m not wading into this, but I just came across this website:, while randomly googling one of the names on the list. Featuring the CVs of over 80 female conductors, many of whom are winners of multiple competitions and prizes over the past forty years, it makes for fascinating reading.

  • José Bergher says:

    Merging orchestras to solve their financial problems is a sign of extreme stupidity and has lodged itself as a pet formula in the rudimentary brains of some governments. Let us hope this aberration becomes self-limited and disappears as soon as possible.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear Sir,

      I regret to inform you that you, as well as the rest of the world, has been mislead. The SWR does not have any financial problems. Firstly, within weeks after the broadcasting council approved the merger, the SWR announced the creation, in cooperation with ZDF, of a new television channel for children, which would have costed 10s of millions for the SWR. (This, in the meantime, has fallen through) Secondly, the payment fee system for public broadcasting and the internet has recently been revised and reconstructed, bringing an enormous amount of money to the ARD and ZDF. According to “Das Spiegel” Magazine, this amounts to half a BILLION euros. (Please see link: ). The SWR claimed last year it needed to save 120 million euros by 2020. Since the restructuring of the German public broadcasting and internet payment system this year, it will have more money than it ever had in its history. The SWR, I can assure you, has no financial problems. It just doesn’t want to spend it on 2 great orchestras.

      • José Bergher says:

        Dear Anonymous,

        I’m extremely happy to learn that the SWR doesn’t have any financial problems and that this year it will have more money than ever. This is great! Fantastic! And I think it outrageous and appalling that the SWR doesn’t want to spend it in two great orchestras.

      • Monika Berger says:

        Please check your sources more carefully! The experts at KEF, the Kommission zur Ermittlung des Finanzbedarfs derRundfunkanstalten, replies with a very sharp press release concerning this Spiegel article your mention. Their release says: “Published figured of money are wrong and misinterpreted”

        • Anonymous says:

          Although the KEF writes that basically one must wait before passing judgement on the final figures, it is unfathomable that the ARD and ZDF will not come out with considerably more money. My problem is not so much with the number crunching (I was incorrect in that the SWR claimed it needed to save 120 million euros; it’s 166 million. It has a yearly budget of about 1.2 Billion). The problem lies in Mr. Boudgoust’s and his colleagues’ methods.

  • Toby says:

    Many of the the conductors in the list is part of the increasing costs and financial problems for many orchestras by getting paid 20-50 times more per week than any orchestra musicians.

  • Gilles Lesur says:

    I completly agree with Toby. And generally for 8 /12 weeks of effectiv presence !

  • Andrey Boreyko says:

    Couple of years i was Principal Guest Conductor of SWR Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart.

    Please include my name to the list! From two great orchestras you never make one equally good! Dear musicians! Let’s hope it will never happens!!

  • A slight correction. The orchestra in Stuttgart is called the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart. The orchestra being eliminated by the merger is the Sinfonieorchester des Südwestrundfunks which is based in Baden-Baden and Freiburg. In English, the SWR Symphony Orchestra based in Baden-Baden and Freiburg is being merged with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. I suppose the names are a bit moot.

    Excellent point about the list only containing 4 women. Maybe such orchestral patriarchy explains why at least half the public in Germany doesn’t care so much about the closing… All the same, it should be opposed and orchestras encouraged to become a bit more modern in many different ways.

  • Martin says:

    The merger will only save roughly € 5 million, but the SWR needs to cut overall costs by € 166 million. ( )

    So one needs to wonder where else the other € 161 million will be saved. SWR = 1 TV and 7 radio channels plus a youth program. Of the 7 radio channels 4 are “regionalized” and could easily be merged into only 2.

    To stop this merger one has to find support from outside the musicians ranks. But this might be difficult, as surely more people than those musicians will lose their jobs.

    An idea: We should compare how much of the SWR money goes into covering the great “the ref is a wanker” chorals, aka sports coverage. Double that amount can be spent on orchestras. Actually 1000 times more, because by sports coverage the Germans mean 99% football coverage and this could be financed by the football circus itself.

  • Regarding archetype bureaucratic philistine, I beg to submit that this moniker has been retired by all the board members, attorneys, bureaucrats and other bozos who have destroyed the Minnesota Orchestra.