More gloom: ‘Last rescue attempt’ fails for German radio orchestra

More gloom: ‘Last rescue attempt’ fails for German radio orchestra


norman lebrecht

July 17, 2014

Plans by the SWR network to merge the Baden-Baden and Freiburg symphony orchestra with another in Stuttgart took a step closer yesterday. A meeting convened to assess private and commercial support for the orchestra’s continued existence failed to raise the 11 million Euros required by the bullish broadcasting chief. Peter Boudgoust.

There were demonstrations outside in support of the orchestra but it’s starting to look as if the valiant international campaign fronted by its music director, Francois-Xaver Roth, and backed by the likes of Pierre Boulez and Simon Rattle, lacks the cash to match its ambition.

Sad day.




  • John Borstlap says:

    But isn’t that clear? It’s ‘modern music’ that has killed-off the orchestra, i.e. new music in the wake of WW II which has cut itself off from the musical culture in which a symphony orchestra has its roots, musically, historically, psychologically, aesthetically, humanistically, anthropologically. It is no coincidence that Boulez has been called for support – a suicidal act.

    • sdReader says:

      Are you being sarcastic?

      • Simon S. says:

        Judging by Mr. Borstlap’s usual comments, he is serious. But this doesn’t mean we should take him seriously.

        • John Borstlap says:

          I seriously doubt the seriousness of this comment. Could anybody with some residu of musical culture doubt the catastrophe which was postwar musical modernsm?

  • Brisbane orchestral musician says:

    You’re joking right John? The SWR Baden-Baden and Freiburg orchestra is the leading orchestra in contemporary music performance in Germany, if not the world. It makes a massive contribution to musical culture, full stop.

  • william osborne says:

    The SWRSO was originally based in Baden-Baden. I don’t know the exact date, but about 10 years ago the orchestra’s mandate was changed and it became based in two cities, Freiburg and Baden-Baden which are about an hour and a half apart by car. As a result, the orchestra lost a good part of its communal identity and attachment. I think this is one reason why it has faced a lack of support.

    It was also once the radio orchestra of the Sudwestfunk which was based in Baden-Baden, but in 1998 the SWF merged with the SWR in Stuttgart. This was another factor that contributed to the orchestra’s loss of support. I wonder if this is part of a larger process of the government in Stuttgart erasing Baden’s cultural identity and merging it into Wurttemberg. That would be a big loss.

    • John Borstlap says:

      When based in Baden Baden, the orchestra took part in a national research project where well-being and physical / psychological disorders of German orchestral players were scrutinized. The Baden-based players suffered much more from headaches, depression, digestion disorders, insomnia, ptss, relational catastrophe (often resulting in divorce), and grave melancholy as regarding the repertoire they had to play, than other orchestras which were not exposed to postwar Kriegsschuldbewältigungsmusik. Other radio orchestras suffered comparable problems, but not as much as the Baden orchestra which figured as the ‘most adventurous’. It is quite possible that the many relocations and resulting undermined identity were the result of their specializing in things that were in themselves already lacking any roots in a culture which produced the orchestra as a musical medium in the first place.

      Postwar modern music as promoted and performed by the German radio orchestras was an attack upon a performing culture. That is not so difficult to see and especially, to hear. In postwar Germany, musical modernism had a strongly morally and politically defined meaning: a modernist German was a good German, however ugly, unmusical and nonsensical the result.

      • william osborne says:

        Further studies found that the actual cause for these maladies was eating too many egg noodles, the Badische dish known as Späztle. Another Baden speciality, Zwiebel Rostbraten, was also a contributing factor. The Bavarian Radio Orchestra avoided much of this by counteracting the affects of rich food and new music with large quantities of beer, though a Sunday morning indulgence of 3 Weiss Wurst and a Brezen sometimes affected them worse than even a lengthy work by Boulez.

        • John Borstlap says:

          A further study conducted by the University of Jona revealed that Boulez’ ‘Pli selon Pli’ contained more cholesterol and saturated sugar than an entire symphonic poem by Richard Strauss.