Minister of Culture attacks Maestro’s salary

Minister of Culture attacks Maestro’s salary


norman lebrecht

January 26, 2014

The Minister of Education and Culture in Andalusia, Luciano Alonso, has voiced outrage at the fees paid to Pedro Halffter, music director of the Royal Seville symphony orchestra. ‘I disagree with his salary, which is excessive. No one in the public sector of Andalusia should earn more than the president,’ said Alonso. The regional president is paid a salary of 69,000 Euros. The maestro makes 250,000 Euros.

Halffter, who also heads the philharmonic orchestra of the Canary Islands, has a contract in Seville that ends this summer. It seems unlikely to be renewed.



  • brendanball says:

    How big is this conductor’s salary then?!

  • Rosana Martins says:

    Are these monthly or annual salaries? In today’s crazy world, it might be monthly, which would be scandalous!

  • 250,000 Euros just for waving a stick?

    • David H. says:

      It’s 25.000 EUR for waving the stick and 150.000 EUR for knowing when to wave it in which pattern, based on this huge telephone book in front of the conductor . 50.000 EUR are for heartwarming phrasing gestures and cues with the left hand. The final 25.000 EUR are for precisely timed glances with the eyes.

  • Alberto Martinez says:

    Hello from the Canary Islands . Here is 10000 euros for concert , multiply that for eight in the year 2014 (not counting the 2013 concerts ). Just for concerts, not counting rehearsals,etc.

  • Alberto Martinez says:

    actually is counting the 2013 concerts , so the concert in the season 2013-2014 amount to 80000 euros

  • Elektra says:

    the bigest tragedy is ……he can’t even conduct….Salome…BSO some years back…what a mess…. it is a wonder he is having a career ……in order to make money one must spend money….hint hint-

  • Neil van der Linden says:

    One moreover wonder who is Pedro Halffter and what is the Royal Seville symphony orchestra on a world scale? But I assume that the local authorities for culture are responsible for signing the contract. However in the same time it is especially Spain that paves the way for extravagant salaries when it comes to sports, as it catapulted the salaries for football players and managers. So maybe other people who think they are stars too follow in their footsteps..

    • David H. says:

      How is 250 k EUR an *extravagant salary* when a regional bank director makes as much or more? It’s also about the money a solo timpanist makes in San Francisco.

  • Alberto says:

    Since no one’s mentioned it, I will try to explain the situation.

    Pedro Halffter is a member of the powerful and prestigious Hallfter musical dynasty in Spain. His forefathers include composers Rodolfo and Ernesto Halffter,. Most importantly, his father is Cristobal Hallfter, highly regarded as a composer, and sometimes conductor, in Spain and in much of Europe. Cristobal is considered to be the most important of Spain’s “Generación del 51” composers (born 1924 – 1938)

    The father Cristobal is a superb composer, outstanding musician and a very personable gentleman.

    The Halffter family is quite wealthy and VERY well-connected politically in Spain, especially in Madrid. Since Music Directorships in Spain are essentially public offices, appointment can be influenced by politicians. Cristobal has used his considerable influence with politicians on various occasions to promote the career of his son, Pedro. Most recently in the appointment of a successor to Gerard Mortier at Madrid’s Teatro Real, the leading politician in charge held out in the appointment of a Mortier successor, insisting that Pedro Halffter be part of the package, appointed as Music Director (Teatro Real has no permanent Music Director). It didn’t work, but it was clear the Halffter family influence was at play. There’s been much unrest in Seville over Pedro’s salary and style of working and it’s pretty clear he should be looking for a new job.

    The Halffter situation is unique and well-known in Spain. It’s a throwback to the days of Franco where politics could and did influence the world of classical music significantly. Cristobal Halffter is of that generation, where politicians DID determine Music Directors. Times have changed. Spain is now a democracy, and Spaniards are savvy and worldly classical music consumers. Political appointments, extravagant salaries like Pedro’s, from the public coffers, simply are not accepted any more. Spaniards want good Music Directors, chosen fairly, who earn salaries proportionate to other public servants.

    Pedro Halffter, unfortunately, is a bit of an anachronism in Seville. He’s not a bad conductor, he’s just been pushed to extremes by his ambitious family and in this day and age it simply doesn’t work.

    • Neil van der Linden says:

      It is good that you write “Times have changed. Spain is now a democracy, and Spaniards are savvy and worldly classical music consumers. Political appointments, extravagant salaries like Pedro’s, from the public coffers, simply are not accepted any more.” Because I was going to ask where all of this fits into a modern transparent democracy and into a modern Europe. And you add that this was an anachronism. Doesn’t the man himself has some feeling of shame about being catapulted into this position without real true qualifications? Or is he ignorant? So the more a reason to get rid of him.

      • Alberto says:

        Well, this is the thing – Pedro actually is about as qualified as most Spanish conductors of generation. It’s just that he’s making a lot more money than they are because of his connections. And people dislike him for this.

        He is not unqualified nor is he a bad conductor. He completed his conducting studies at the Hochschule für Musik, has received numerous international awards and studied on a Fullbright Grant at the Manhattan School of Music in the US.

        Spaniards frequently confuse their dislike for a person with their actual abilities professionally. Furthermore they usually take it to the extreme: “He’s a horrible conductor”. This is a VERY common Spanish reaction – it’s something they do apparently to make themselves feel superior or better about themselves – so you have to always take criticisims like “horrible” in Spain with a grain of salt.

        The truth is that Pedro Halffter is NOT a horrible conductor, and he IS qualified to do his job. People just don’t like him because they feel his family has given him privileges other young conductors don’t have. Jealousy is another rabid Spanish characteristic.

        It’s very difficult to fight public opinion in Spain. It’s kind of like the Spanish Inquisition. If you can accuse your neighbor of being horrible professionally then you must be really good. 😉 Pedro Halffter, in all fairness, has been a victim of this.

        So despite what people say, he stays in his job, because he is actually more qualified than Spaniards give him credit for. I have no idea how he justifies his own exorbitant salary, but then no one is publishing the salaries of any other music director salaries in Spain so it could be in perspective.

        He also probably stays because he is being pressured by his very influential family. He cannot disappoint his father and let down the family legacy. The Halffters are a musical dynasty in Spain and he is the heir. Much like a reluctant heir to the British throne, it is his destiny, whether or not he is capable or whether or not people like him.

        • Neil van der Linden says:

          Thanks Alberto.

        • Hiramusik says:

          Alberto, I agree with your opinion and I can tell it is the most objective one, one can see about this topic, latelly. Jealosy can destroy a lot of good things. People tend to see the negative. I wished more people could read your opinion and actually think about it, try to be objective, as well. In Spanish we say: tienes conocimiento de causa. I can tell, because me too.

          Then, what about Barenboim and his foundation in Seville, using public money, as well?

        • Elektra says:

          poor poor pedro….” Pedro actually is about as qualified as most Spanish conductors of generation”. …woops.. not saying much at all…… he is a fake and any 2nd kappelmeister in Köln would be leagues in front of him from a technical standard as well as musical know how… one can’t hide behind prizes and grants, they are rigged as much as the jobs are…. we are all so jealous of what he is, over payed and under qualified.

          • Alberto says:

            Elektra, take a look at the 8 candidates now being considered for the position of Music Director at Les Arts in Valencia and tell me they’re any better than Pedro. Spaniards want to protect their own and this is what there is. Pedro or 8 semi-qualified enchufadoed Valencianos.

            At least Pedro has the economic backing to bail out his orchestra if they get into trouble financially.

            Look, we survived the eras of Victor Pablo Perez, Enrique Asensio and Salvador Mas to name a few. Why suddenly pick on Pedro who at least made the effort to study outside of Spain? It’s a friggin witch hunt with him. There are far worse Spanish conductors on the scene but everyone is so afraid that daddy is going to get Pedro appointed to a big job and the govt. will be running the orchestra that they’re having a fit.

            OK – criticize his salary, his perks. He’s boring to work with maybe. But don’t call him a fake because it’s not true. He’s well trained and he’s reasonably competent. Not happy with Pedro? Keep complaining and you could end up with a lifetime sentence of Salvador Mas or Asensi, who really ARE fakes, and then you’d really be in trouble.

            Oh, yeah, I hear Pablo Gonzalez is also looking for a job. . .

      • David H. says:

        From a global perspective, 250 k EUR yearly is *not* an extravagant salary for a music director. How much does Yaron Traub in Valencia make?

  • Elektra says:

    maybe with all that money he might get someone to help him to be a conductor, maybe even a good one and then work his way up instead of politics at it’s best…..people suffer under incompetence…mainly the musicians, singers, listeners and ….the music. His Bank is laughing with great pleasure. You can’t blame the parents….he signs the contracts himself.

    But let us be honest every country has their rotten eggs taking fee after fee.

  • maestro says:

    Conductor´s salaries have risen in unhealthy heights in the last 30 years. The baton makes no music – thanks god – but good player´s do – thanks god and thanks to the good composers!!

    • Neil van der Linden says:

      Twenty years ago or so it was a small scandal when Chailly earned just as much from conducting and from CD release rights as the respected composer Peter Schat earned from writing his symphony De Hemel (Heaven)

  • Donald Wright says:

    This little contretemps reminds me of an exchange that I heard with my own ears, along with millions of other viewers, some decades ago. Barbara Walters, despite a pronounced speech impediment, had just become the first network prime-time news anchor to have obtained a million-dollar (and much publicized) annual salary. During her live interview with Anwar Sadat, then president of Egypt, Sadat asked her, with a smile: “So Barbara, how do you like your new million-dollar job? I’m the president of a country, and I make only $10,000 a year!”