Breaking: Berlin Philharmonic poaches flute from Chicago

Breaking: Berlin Philharmonic poaches flute from Chicago


norman lebrecht

May 15, 2014

Mathieu Dufour, principal flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, won the Berlin Philharmonic audition for the same position today. If the Frenchman accepts the job, he will succeed the veteran Andreas Blau. Mathieu has played in the CSO since 1999.

Maestro Muti will not be pleased.


Dufour is the second US principal to win a Berlin seat this season, following Pittsburgh’s Noah Bendix-Balgley, who claimed a concertmaster’s seat.


  • Robert Levin says:

    Hopefully, this is just a negotiating tactic in connection with his CSO contract. We cannot afford to lose him!

  • WL Weller says:

    If he leaves, he will come to regret it. He has tested the waters elsewhere in the past. If he wants to leave, let him go. The CSO will find a suitable replacement. I just hope it’s not because of the IL income tax rate.

  • Michael Schaffer says:

    In the world of classical music, Berlin is not “elsewhere”. In that world, Chicago is “elsewhere”. The city has a very good orchestra and a decent opera company, and that’s it. In Berlin, Dufour will have a principal position in the most prestigious orchestra in a city of four full-time full-size symphony orchestras, three full-time opera houses, and numerous opportunities to play chamber music and solos, in a city which is the capital of a country in which classical music has a much higher status than it has in the US, right in the center of Europe and just a short plain ride away from his home town of Paris. I don’t know what’s going on with the IL income tax, but the taxes he will pay in Berlin are probably higher, and being originally from Europe, I am sure Dufour knew that before he decided to audition.

  • MacroV says:

    My bet is that he’ll go to Berlin for a year, and then go back to the CSO. He once again proves his market value, gets a great experience playing with Sir Simon and friends for a year, and then goes “home.” Just as Stephen Williamson did this year. He has absolutely nothing to lose.

    • Max Grimm says:

      I doubt that kind of thing would sit well with the Berlin Philharmonic. They have “Zeitverträge” (temporary or fixed term contracts) for that sort of thing. Once you win an audition and advance into the trial phase that can last up to 2 years, commitment is key. Musicians who merely wish to “prove [their] market value”, would be best off not even accepting a position with the BPO.

    • Max Grimm says:

      I doubt that would sit well with the Berlin Philharmonic. They have guest contracts or fixed term contracts for that sort of thing. Once a musician wins a position, they expect utter commitment. Someone wishing to “prove his market value” is better off going elsewhere to do so.

  • Brian Richardson says:

    Berlin and Chicago are both elite destination orchestras, and I think Dufour would get along just fine with Pahud and the rest of that fabulous orchestra in Berlin. That said, it seems like a pay cut and a lateral move….would love to know Dufour’s motivation for taking the audition.