Top photo: Christian Thielemann with his doctors

Top photo: Christian Thielemann with his doctors


norman lebrecht

November 21, 2013


When the maestro goes on tour, he takes no chances. Here, in Tokyo last weekend, is Thielemann with his medical team – four physicians and scientists from the Medical University of Vienna who performed Beethoven ninth with the Vienna Philharmonic (one concert in Kawasaki, one at Suntory Hall in Tokyo). These 2 concerts were part of the Wiener Phil Asia tour with Thielemann performing the Beethoven symphony cycle.

L-R: Dr. Thomas Prikoszovich (Nephrologist, Singverein baritone), Prof. Dr. Bernhard Voller (Neurologist, Singverein tenor), Maestro Christian Thielemann, Ass.Prof. Dr. Dietrich Haubenberger (Neurologist, Singverein) and Dr. Manfred Hecking (Nephrologist, Wr. Philharmoniker)

photo: Stephan Polzer



  • squirrel says:

    Sorry, please explain: The doctors performed the 9th with the Vienna Philharmonic? That is what your text suggests.

    What kind of condition does Thielemann have that requires such a level of medical supervision? I would suggest he travel with a team of psychotherapists.

  • David H. says:

    Two nephrologists and two neurologists.Thielemann’s kidneys and nerves are his Achilles heel? 😉

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    I believe that the docs were members of the university choir that performed B9 with VP and Thielemann in Japan I doubt that he travels with them regularly. The photo was a moment of serendipity, IMHO.

  • squirrel says:

    Huh… thanks for the explanation. Man that guy is @#$ weird.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      You are still not getting it. As the text explains, three of the doctors are members of the Wiener Singverein which is an amateur choir although a rather good one. Karajan used to be their director, they are on most of this recordings. So they are doctors in real life, but they sing with the choir in their spare time. Manfred Hecking, the guy on the far right, is a bass player and former member of the Wiener Philharmoniker who also studied medicine and decided to leave the orchestra in order to concentrate on his career in the medical profession. Apparently he has been asked to join the orchestra as a substitute on this tour.

      So Thielemann is not traveling with an entourage of doctors. It’s just a coincidence and they probably asked him for this group picture. Nothing weird about that.

      • That pretty much sums it up. Choral societies, Extra Choruses, Sonderchöre and the like are made up of professionals in other fields who have a love of, and a certain talent for, classical music. At one theatre I worked at in Germany, there were no less than five GPs in the ranks, one of which, coincidentally, was Peter Stein’s half brother. I’ve been around Thielemann for ten years, now, and the only person regularly seen at his side is his mother. These men just saw a rather witty photo op.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          Most medium-to-large size cities in the German speaking world have their own doctor’s orchestra. It is not at all uncommon for doctors, scientist, academics of all sorts in Germany to also play an instrument or sing in a choir.

  • Mark Stratford says:

    The late Italian conductor Sinnopoli actually was a doctor. Apparently he tended to one of his orchestral players who had collapsed during an intermission.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Never heard that story (could be true though) but the above pictured Manfred Hecking actually revived someone (don’t remember exactly who, conductor, musician or audience member) who had collapsed during a performance at the Deutsche Oper Berlin where he played as a substitute when he was a student.

      Of course, Sinopoli himself tragically collapsed in the pit of the same opera house during a performance of “Aida” and then died soon afterwards.

  • John Pritchard. says:

    What great men/women do really becomes the norm . Thielemann really is a great conductor, carrying

    the torch.