Because he needs it, Eschenbach gets ten-grand prize

Because he needs it, Eschenbach gets ten-grand prize


norman lebrecht

July 08, 2014

The Rheingau Music Festival’s 2014 prize, worth 10,000 Euros, has been awarded to the German conductor and pianist Christoph Eschenbach.

Well, he’s had a tough year, being kicked around by critics and orchestras from here to kingdom come.



  • Brian says:

    Not quite as dubious as the $1m given Birgit Nilsson Prize given to the Vienna Philharmonic this year (what did they ever do with that money, by the way?) but still – another case of the rich and powerful rewarding each other. I wonder how many struggling arts organizations could have used that $10K to make their next payroll?

  • Brian says:

    Oops, make that 10,000 euros – or $13,500.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    The reviews of his last NSO concert of the past season (Bruckner’s 8th Symphony) were unanimously favorable and often much more than that – deservedly, I would say. But hey, this is good news and we don’t need that here.

  • Thomas says:

    There is nothing wrong with receiving a prize, but what is outrageous here is that the prize of €10,000 Euros is being given to the third highest paid conductor currently performing before the public. Working in the classical music business for just over eighteen years, I know very well the reputations of most all of the leading soloists and conductors. Eschenbach is known, across the board, as extremely, extremely greedy and unapologetically ungenerous with his money. I am not going to debate here whether he deserves this or that prize, but I will say that I find it extremely “cheap” to offer a prize of €10,000 Euros to a multi million dollar paid conductor and one who is not known for being at the forefront of charitable giving and “aiding causes” with the level of generosity commensurate with his ability. How much better it would have been for the Rheingau Music Festival to have awarded the money to a struggling, but talented young musician, for whom €10,000 Euros would mean a lot and it would help develop a career. Giving it to Eschenbach is just keeping the political machine turning and doing nothing for those talented musicians in need. I actually find this all rather distasteful, especially when I know the reputation of this sadly unliked man.

  • brian from Washington says:

    You are right Don, good news about Eschenbach is not needed here. Why Mr Lebrecht twists someone giving Eschenbach a prize for his “impressive and extraordinary” achievements as a musician into an occasion for snide comment is beyond me. Presumably any kind of good news or good reviews about Eschenbach is enough to ruin Mr Lebrecht’s day. That’s strange, particularly since Lebrecht shares some defining characteristics with the Maestro: they are both successful and they are both controversial.
    Eschenbach’s Bruckner was magnificent:

  • George says:

    I think that you are missing the point completely here. Forget about Eschenbach, who is well-known to readers here as being an extremely controversial and often despised individual. The issue here is how wrong it is to give “MONEY” to an already wealthy individual. Fine if they want to shower him with prizes, but to offer the prize in the form of money, and a rather small sum at that, is tacky and in very poor taste. I’m sure that Eschenbach will take that money and neither he nor the Rheingau Festival would ever imagine, for example, giving him 10,000 Euros to give to a young and needy, under 25 year old musician of his choosing. Now that would show more intelligence and class. Simply transferring 10,000 Euros into Eschenbach’s bank account is a drop in the bucket and is an extremely undignified way to honour his work and it is also undignified of Eschenbach to accept it and not immediately propose a more decent arrangement. I’m sure that won’t happen, which makes me believe the terrible things that I’ve both read (not only here) and heard about this, for me, unexciting and pretentious conductor.