Slipped Disc editorial: Paris faces power vacuum

There will be no shortage of candidates clamouring to succeed Paavo Järvi at the Orchestre de Paris in 2016.

It is one of the top-paid music director posts in Europe and it will come equipped with a stunning new Jean Nouvel hall, a dedicated management and an excellent, hard-working group of musicians.

So why did Paavo quit?

We haven’t spoken to him recently, and there is no doubting the sincerity of his affection for the city and its musicians. His reasons will be personal and strategic. It may be that he has an eye on other targets, not least the Berlin Philharmonic vacancy that looms in 2017.


ivry paavo

pictured: Paavo (centre) with Ivry Gitlis (left) and others


But it seems more likely that he was deterred by the political and economic outlook in France, where the government has just fallen over a new austerity policy and everyone is talking of ‘la crise’.

All through the summer we have been hearing rumours of heavy cuts about to be imposed on orchestras and opera houses. The culture minister, Aurélie Filippetti, was one of a group of three Cabinet members fighting austerity measures. The new Philharmonie hall is running late and way over budget. Its scheduled opening in January may be delayed. Its artistic plans may be curtailed.

Paris is burning with anxiety. Until the government unites for or against fiscal responsibility, the economic outlook will remain cloudy.

Paavo has done a tremendous job at the Orchestre de Paris, but the rush to succeed him will be tempered by sober realities.


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  • Norman, you say two things here:

    “There will be no shortage of candidates clamouring … ”


    ” … the rush to succeed him will be tempered … “

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