Two more names in Concertgebouw frame

Two more names in Concertgebouw frame


norman lebrecht

September 18, 2014

In addition to the four known candidates, two further maestros have been added to the selection pack.

They are both Russian – the outstanding Semyon Bychkov, who is presently free of institutional duties, and the fast-rising Vasily Petrenko, music director in Liverpool and Oslo.

An announcement is expected before the end of next month.

vasily petrenko + bychkov



  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    Dutch taxpayer here:
    with a Belgian as the general-director, an American as the artistic leader, more than half of its composition of bloody foreign descent/with non-Dutch passport and with the forthcoming nomination of -again- a bloody foreigner, this time as the new Head Chief of thát Royal Concertgebouworchestra in Amsterdam: please let in this overwhelming global age the Unesco be the bloody financial contributor of that symphonic Dutch aparatus. And not US further on here in these bloody Netherlands.
    Deo gratias.
    Thank you.

    • sdReader says:

      Well, who are the good Dutch conductors? Jaap, okay. Who else?

      You sound bitter, for a concertgoer.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Ironically, Jaap is the only Dutch conductor at the moment on a high international level who would be ideal vor the job but who probably will not be interested and will not be asked by the management anyway (who are fully assimilated to the Dutch narrow-minded mentality).

      • Rob van der Hilst says:

        Otto Tausk, Daniel Reuss, Ed Spanjaard et cetera. All charismatic-brilliant professionals.
        Not known to you? Well, I am sorry for you.
        But…damn… they are ‘younger versions’ of Bernard Haitink.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Rob, I think you overlooked one important factor here. There may be a number of
      “bloody foreigners” in the orchestra and in the administration, but the orchestra is still based in Amsterdam, so it still plays mainly for Dutch audiences in the Netherlands, as well as for “bloody foreigners” who come to visit Amsterdam and decide they want to hear this famous orchestra, of course.
      But the orchestra is the center piece of Dutch musical culture, and it is its function as that which is important, not where the musicians who perform that function come from. And it is only natural that a musical institution of such renown attracts highly qualified musicians from all over. To the benefit of the audience who get to listen to literally some of he best orchestral musicians in the world.
      Is the Concertgebouworkest much better when their Dutch principal horn sits on the first horn chair than when his French colleague does?

      • Rob van der Hilst says:

        Well, let me react on this by quoting his most holiness Sir Thomas Beecham who didn’t have mush use for maestros from other countries:

        “Why do we have to have all these third-rate foreign conductors around,” he grumbled, “when we have so many second-rate ones of our own?”


      • John Borstlap says:

        Well said and I fully agree.

        I am living in Amsterdam, I know some players in the orchestra, and I had – as a composer – some quite unpleasant experiences with the management, and can support the view that the musicians (and the conductors) are fantastic and thus deserve a much better management. The musicians are well integrated into Dutch musical life while preserving their international outlook – which protects them from Dutch garden-gnome mentality – while the management, including the ‘bloody foreigners’, have assimilated some of the worst Dutch habits among which the cultivation of musical incompetence. Shame on them… It would be better if some foreign management would take-over the orchestra as to protect them from disaster. Indeed they belong to the top players of the world, and I pity them for being based in Holland…. while for the Dutch audience it is a great treat, almost too good to be true.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          Why pity them? I have only been to the NL in general and Amsterdam specifically a few brief times, but I always thought it was a nice place and probably fun to live there.
          If you have enough money for a decent lifestyle, of course.

          That reminds, me does anyone know what kind of salary the players command? I seem to recall that I was told back in the 80s that they made far less money than comparable orchestras in some other countries (notably Germany), that they weren’t really well paid at all for an orchestra of that caliber.
          But that was a long time ago. Recently I met a Dutch gentleman who told me they had “exorbitant” salaries but the figures he gave me seemed ridiculously over the top and he also got very worked about the whole subject – kind of like our friend Rob here, minus the chauvinist stuff. For him it was mostly about the, he said, completely overblown budget of the orchestra and the, he said, way too high salaries of the orchestra.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Well, I know from a (very) reliable source, that the players of the RCO receive one third of the average salary that such top league orchestras usually pay. In fact, it is the ONLY orchestra in that league with such (relatively) low salary.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            So it looks like it hasn’t changed much since back then, in relative terms, compared to other orchestras of the same caliber. Of course, it is also a factor how much the costs of living are in Amsterdam compared to other cities. Which I have no idea about.
            It shouldn’t actually be a big mystery how much they make since they are publicly subsidized positions. I don’t know what it’s like in the NL, but in Germany, since the salaries are paid by the state, if you want to know how much it is in each orchestra, you can just look up the TVK, as the collective agreement for orchestras is called in Germany.

            It’s funny that I have encountered such Geert Wilders like rants from Dutch guys several times recently when that subject came up, from Rob here and the other guy I recently met. Is that chauvinist and anti-culture attitude somewhat common in the NL these days, or are these mere coincidences?

          • Max Grimm says:

            I remember reading a few years ago, that the highest paid musician (note, singular!) earned approximately 4500 Euro monthly (before taxes). Compare that to a base salary of 6000-7500 Euro per month (once again before taxes) in select German orchestras of comparable international standing.

          • Jan de Jong says:

            An average member of the orchestra (not leaders of principals) had in 2102 a monthly salary of 4000 euro bruto in the first year, increasing with about 50 euro every next year (without inflation correction to be negotiated by the trade unions). In the Netherlands, from a salary of 4000 bruto income tax is about 33%.
            Salaries in Munich (where living costs are about the same) are said to be 25% higher.

  • Neil McGowan says:

    Good heavens! Two world-class Russian conductors in the running for this post, eh?

    • sdReader says:

      Why the surprise? What’s your point?

      • Neil McGowan says:

        The point is that just two days ago, on these message-boards, one poster claimed there were no Russian conductors of world status at all… and moreover, that Russians were racially incapable of achieving such status.

        It was clearly a posting made by a disturbed and malevolent individual motivated by illogical and deep-seated hatred (or, perhaps, by a paid-to-post campaign against Russia…), but I’m glad the post was allowed to stand… it highlighted the guttersnipe racism of such attacks, and the poster simply discredited themselves entirely.

        In fact this huge school of Russian and Russian-taught conductors who dominate today’s classical music scene is largely the work of a single man… Musin, the conducting pedagogue who taught nearly all of them. Gergiev, Sinaisky, Bychkov, Yudin, Katz, Ponkin, Jansons, Currentzis, M Jurowsky, Temirkanov… they’re all his pupils.

  • Manu says:

    All these conductors are represented by English agents all very interested to shout out their names. It would be a scandal if one of these guys is the new chief…

    • Peter says:

      The scandal is that these same agencies are probably the source of all the ‘insider’ information on this website. I doubt very much anyone from the Concertgebouw has breathed a word.

  • rambonito says:

    I don’t think you’re talking about the right Petrenko dear Norman. I m really wondering about your sources.

  • F. Checker says:

    Once again: I don’t think your source is very good. A bit of journalism, please! Do you really think this world class orchestra will choose somebody they hardly know? As far as I know Vasily Petrenko never conducted the RCO (Kirill Petrenko did). Bychkov worked just few times with the RCO since 1987. A bit of research would be good before you write things down. First thing next time: search in the entire concert-archive of the RCO:

  • Novagerio says:

    Speaking of dutch conductors, what about Edo? And wasn’t the Concertgebouw recently facing extinction?

  • rambonito says:

    What s about Heras Casado? Or Krystian Jarvi?

  • Tristan says:

    Kirill Petrenko is the great one – no doubt but he is a serious one who would not hopp around like so many others. His does excellent work in Munich and the audience love him like the Brits Tony Pappano. Those two companies are by far the best around at the moment. Petrenko’s honest work sometimes reminds one of Carlos Kleiber, by far the greatest of the last 50 years. Excellent Bychkov (recently outstanding at ROH with FROSCH and ELEKTRA at the Proms) would be a good choice for Amsterdam and this has absolutely nothing to do if Russian or not. In that ligue are the also non-Russian Christian Thielemann and as mentioned Antonio Pappano, both excellent. Vienna btw would be well adviced to ask Bychkov to take over from highly overrated Welser-Moest for their new production of ELEKTRA this season.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      I agree, Bychkov is definitely one of the best conductors on the loose right now. I have seen him a few times in Berlin in the 80s when he suddenly “exploded” onto the “scene”, even went on tour with the Berliner Philharmoniker – Karajan back then said in an interview that he could see Bychkov as his successor, but that was probably a little premature at the time and nobody really understood why. I also have and generally like quite a few of the recordings he did in Paris then. He was very successful in Cologne and generally well liked by musicians of the WDR.
      Last time I saw him live was 1 1/2 years ago in Hamburg, I drove there from Berlin specifically to see the NDR in their own concert hall which is one of the very few old ones which survived the war – but ironically, they are building a new one, the Elbphilharmonie, which is an immensely ambitious project that has already gone way over budget and schedule. But that is a different story. The concert with Bychkov was great (Dukas Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand, Stravinsky Petrouchka).

      He made a few recordings with the Concertgebouworkest, but I think that was a long time ago, also in the 80s maybe, and I don’t know how much of a relationship he has with the orchestra. But I think he would be a very good choice just based on his qualities as a conductor – also agree with him stepping in in Vienna. That sounds like a good idea. He was quite successful at the operas in Firenze and Dresden.

      • Alexander Hall says:

        You are wrong to say that the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg is the NDR’s “own concert hall”. It is nothing of the kind. The other Hamburg orchestras and visiting international orchestras regularly perform there, and other promoters use the hall for differing events. It is, however, true that the NDR Symphony Orchestra has been designated the orchestra-in-residence of the new Elbphilharmonie, when that eventually opens.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          Yes, Alexander – duh! Of course the NDR SO does not own the building. But it is where they play most of their concerts. Few (if any?) orchestras actually own the concert halls they play in. The Berliner Philharmoniker do not own the Philharmonie, nor do the Wiener Philharmoniker own the Musikverein. And of course other Hamburg orchestras and visiting orchestras play there, too, just like other local and visiting orchestras play in the halls in Berlin and Vienna and everywhere else. I know you meant well, but seriously – duh! :0)