Chicago flute puts Berlin Phil on hold

Back in May, the Berlin Philharmonic announced that Mathieu Dufour had won the audition for its principal flute seat.

Dufour, a Frenchman, is principal flute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Last night he let it be known that he won’t be going to Berlin … yet. He has signed on for one more season with Riccardo Muti in Chicago.

Berlin, confident it will get its man, has asked the veteran Andreas Blau – 45 years with the orchestra – to postpone his retirement for a further 12 months. Dufour’s reasons for keeping Berlin in limbo have not been clarified.

Read Andrew Patner here.




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  • LaMusic says:

    [Redcted: abuse] While it could be possible that Dufur did not want to go to Berlin right away because he did not want to be judged against Pahud or he did not get Berlin to waive the probation process, I wouldn’t be shocked that he in the process has gotten Chicago to pay him an extraordinary ransom for staying put so CSO gets the bragging right in dissing BHO and he can claim the Guinness record to be the first orchestral flute player to be paid as much as a bench warmer on the Bulls. 🙂 In all seriousness, although he is probably the best flute player on the planet BHO and CSO can get at this point of time, he is definitely not the best flute player on the planet at this point of time and can never be compared as equal with legends of the past in Berlin Philharmonic, such as Galway and Pahud.

  • Martin Kisling says:

    I love these word’s order combination 🙂 “…Dafour, a Frenchman…” especially on this great blog led in Britain ! No offense to anyone !

  • Nick says:

    I suspect simpler motives. Presumably he’s happy playing under Muti. He does not yet know under which conductor he might be spending most of his time once Rattle moves on in 2018. That should become clearer over the next 12 months.

  • Anonymous says:

    The reason is really clear. Chicago needs the time to find a replacement. Dufour, who clearly has a good relationship with the orch., is staying to give them time to find someone.

  • LaMusic says:

    The previous comment of Dufur waiting for a replacement for CSO before leaving shows lack of understanding how orchestras work. Tenured players like Dufur can not be replaced unless he is either fired or has resigned. When a tenured player joins another orchestra, the person usually is entitled a period of leave (one season) so there is a job the person can return to if failed to pass the probation in the new orchestra. Also, @Nick, Dufur went to LA Phil when Muti was already the MD. Even though, I am big fan if Muti, I imagine that is not the reason Dufur is staying put for now. For those who are curious about financial motives like me, we can always read CSO tax 990 form in the future.

  • Anonymous says:

    @LaMusic: I am a professional orch. player & have been for 30 yrs. I think the lack of understanding, on a behind-the-scenes level is actually yours.

    Dufour is extending a professional courtesy, IHMO. He knows it will be hard to fill his shoes. This is a superstar appointment. Someone of that level, who will fit with the orch. takes time to find. He is allowing them that time.

    I also think there’s a certain level of cooperation between great orchs. like Berlin & Chicago. Chicago would kind of be stuck without Dufour this season & needs time to find a superstar replacement. Berlin can flex on this because they have someone who is established & competent who can fill the job. Blau just retired but he’s in great shape & can easily remain another season.

    • Another Anonymous says:

      @Anonymou. You may well be a professional orchestra musician, but not in America. The basic rule in our orchestra business here is that no orchestra can advertise to hire anyone as permanent replacement when there is no vacancy. Dufour has not resigned. Only when he resigns and still stays put with CSO, occurs only in a fantasy, your think would pan out to be right. Dufour left CSO for LA Phil several years ago for trial, there was never a replacement for him and he used his leave of absence to do it. If I were him, I would rather use Berlin win to bargain for a huge increase of salary from CSO to match Langevin’s in NYPO, rather than going to BPO with a big pay cut and be one of the two principals, sharing spotlight with Pahud, who always did a little better in International competitions between the two. Pahud was the 1st in Kobe and Geneva, Dufour was 2nd in Kobe and 1st Rampal (they never competed head to head)

  • Anonymous says:

    To Another Anonymous (LaMusic): you are still missing the point. It’s the same everywhere. Yes, advertising and actually holding the audition are only allowed when the player has vacated the position, but an unofficial search and perhaps contracting possible guest artists to fill in for Mr. Dufour to see how they work with the orch. is very much a possibility.Chicago needs time to start searching for the right player.

    I understand your point, but when you are dealing with top appointments like this, there are
    side steps around Union guidelines. Invitation only auditions, trial appointments as guest artists – all which can be done while a player is still holding the job. Especially when the incumbent is, as he is in this case, cooperative.

    You don’t just wait – or shouldn’t – til a major player resigns to start recruiting for a replacement then throw the cards up in the air & hope for the best at a cattle call audition.
    Again, my opinion is that Mr. Dufour is being a gentleman & allowing Chicago time to begin searching for a replacement, to get their ducks in a row, before he actually leaves.

    The other poss, scenario is that he is using Berlin as a bargaining chip to ask for more money, at least for one more year.

    • Another Anonymous says:

      Do you follow American Orchestras at all? How are you so sure Dufour would waive his eligibility for leave of absence from CSO during probation period in BPO and resign outright this time? He didn’t last time when he went to LA. BPO is a highly democratic orchestra in which every player is treated with same respect. Any new player is going to have to pass a probation, including Dufour. You think he will take a gamble with Pahud there? Please educate yourself by reading recent audition announcements of top positions in top American orchestras.

      • Anonymous says:

        @Another Anonymous/LaMusic: as someone else commented earlier on your posts, we have no idea at all what you are trying to say. Your ideas are muddled and your point of view is one of some old guy, an armchair musician, who follows orchestras religiously but has no idea of how they actually work. And I’m afraid you make no sense whatsoever. I would like to address what you’ve said but the other reader said, we can’t even tell what you’re trying to say.

        Look: I am American, I am a pro orch. player and I have been following the Dufour situation, from LA to Chicago now to Berlin, for quite some time. I really can’t address your comments because you appear to be coming from somewhere in outer space on this. End of conversation.

  • Maestro M says:

    Pahud is no legend. Good-looking, plays well, but is no great artist, no outstanding tone quality. Chicago is probably offering Dufour more money to stay, or perhaps he just can’t stand the thought of living in Berlin or playing in that cold-hearted orchestra that still reeks of Von Karajan.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Just so you know, “Maestro M”, Berlin offers a far, far higher quality of life in every respect than Chicago does, and at a lower cost of living overall, so that’s probably not why Dufour is postponing his move. Also, the orchestra does not “reek of Von Karajan”, whatever that is supposed to mean. He has been dead for a quarter of a century now, and there is only a handful of players left that were even there during his time, and very few, if any, of the “old guard” who had played under Karajan for a longer period of time. Andreas Blau is probably the last of them.
      Also, your comments about Pahud are completely irrelevant. If you can play better, please point us to some recordings of yours. So we can hear what a really great artist sounds like.

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