Breaking: Concertgebouw announces new chief conductor

Breaking: Concertgebouw announces new chief conductor


norman lebrecht

October 03, 2014




It’s…. Gatti!

Daniele Gatti will take over from Mariss Jansons next year.

The Italian conductor, 53, was being pursued by two Italian opera houses, but probably took the view that he had served his time there as music director in Bolgona in the 1990s. He was also one of the candidates to take over at the Vienna State Opera.

The Concertgebouw have moved unusually fast to secure his signature.

Gatti is presently chief of the Orchestre National de France, an ensemble destabilised by political changes at Radio France. Amsterdam could be his escape route.

Among the leading conductors of his generation, Gatti has never yet led an orchestra of acknowledged world rank. This is a big step up for him. And for the Concertgebouw it is a return to the sunny atmosphere it enjoyed with a previousl Italian, Riccardo Chailly. Whether Gatti will, like Chailly, become a fluent Dutch speaker remains to be seen.


He has guested with the Concertgebouw over the past 10 years.


press release:


Daniele Gatti has been appointed the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s new chief conductor, a post he will assume in 2016. The Italian maestro will thus be the seventh chief conductor in the orchestra’s history. He will be succeeding Mariss Jansons, who announced in April 2014 he was relinquishing the post of chief conductor; Maestro Jansons will be leading the RCO in that capacity for the last time on 20 March 2015.

Daniele Gatti has been appointed the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s new chief conductor, a post he will assume in 2016. The Italian maestro will thus be the seventh chief conductor in the orchestra’s history.

Daniele Gatti gave an astounding first performance as guest conductor with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2004 with works by Richard Strauss and Wagner. He has since been invited very regularly to return. Maestro Gatti’s concert performances are characterised by highly individual interpretations of the traditional orchestral repertoire and a fondness for less common works. Daniele Gatti has made several tours abroad with the orchestra. In 2013 he conducted Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 on several important European festivals. A CD featuring works by Berg performed by the RCO and Maestro Gatti has been released on the orchestra’s in-house label, RCO Live. He last appeared with the orchestra conducting Verdi’s Falstaff in a June 2014 production at the Dutch National Opera, garnering both public and critical acclaim.

The Executive Board, the Board of Directors and the musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra are delighted that Maestro Gatti was willing to fill such an important position. Managing Director Jan Raes says, ‘The musicians and the management of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra look forward to a long and inspiring collaboration with the renowned conductor Daniele Gatti. It is with great conviction that the orchestra has chosen a partnership with a conductor embodying such passion, dedication and experience. This was readily apparent from the keen involvement ofthe orchestra members in the rigorous selection process.’

Chief-conductor Designate Daniele Gatti: ‘I am deeply  honoured to receive this invitation from one of the greatest and oldest orchestras in the world. I will do my very best to deserve it and to serve the music with the support of the musicians and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra family.’


On 27, 28 and 30 November 2014, Daniele Gatti conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 6.

On 3, 4 and 6 December 2014, Daniele Gatti leads a concert programme with Artist in Residence Leoninas Kavakos as the soloist in Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto.

On 15 and 16 January 2014, Daniele Gatti conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn.


  • Brian says:

    Congratulations to the orchestra and Mr Gatti. This is excellent news!

  • sdReader says:

    Bad, bad, bad!

    Sad, sad, sad!

    • norman lebrecht says:

      why? why? why?

      • sdReader says:

        Because he has no reputation in symphonic music, after 20 years on the scene!

        He isn’t even a great opera conductor.

        This decision is made by front-office empty-heads, with no courage, no grip on the scene, no clue about who is doing what, where.

        It is a disgraceful decision, a missed opportunity to augur in a new era for Holland.

        I assume your question is rhetorical, Norman, because I know you know better. He did nothing at the RPO.

        • sdcard says:

          agreed! his interpretations and tempi have been dreadful and horrible! I recall with horror a ghastly slow Mahler 5 with zero detail and dramatic and emotional tension. I will not be watching his concerts, with RCO or otherwise!

          • newyorker says:

            No idea what you are talking about.

            Great Mahler 3 in NYC two years ago. GREAT Parsifal at the Met.

            Congratulations to Gatti! Boston missed out.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Oh, here we go again, more deep wisdom from our anonymous know-it-all. Let me guess, Gatti doesn’t really have a grasp of counterpoint, or does he? And he is no Mozartean either, right?

      Lame, lame, lame.

      • sdReader says:

        How many conductors do you know, Michael? Conductors with a reputation in symphonic music?

        Look at your own list of men and women who have *achieved* something in the last 20 years or shown a spark of genius, and come back and say Daniele Gatti belongs at the head of a Top 10 symphony orchestra.

        You don’t believe in Gatti any more than I do, but instead of expressing your thoughts about him, you complain about my comments.

  • Manu says:

    Bravo, the best conductor for the best orchestra!!! Congratulations!

    • Jonathan says:

      Easy now folks, lebrecht has never had an opinion of acknowledged world ranking so why get so flustered?
      Gatti is a genius! It’s quite simple. And one thing is for sure….if an orchestra chooses it’s MD then it’s always spot on. If a board or management do, it is rarely the right thing to do, regardless of the conductor and their talent.
      Let’s hope the Dutch did it the right way!

  • OhGlorioso says:

    Truly uninspired choice. I agree, mostly, with SD Reader that Gatti in all his years has never gotten close to grabbing the brass ring. And his repertoire is very limited.
    A footnote in the Concertgebouw history.

  • Maarten de Gier says:

    This is excellent news for Amsterdam. Gatti is a real maestro, both in symphonic repertoire as in opera. Well done, Jan Raes c.s., very well done.

  • Benny says:

    The RCO has a very democratic system in which the orchestra gets to decide mostly any big decision. So apparently there was a big support for appointing mr. Gatti. If the musicians believe in it I’m sure it’s going to be a great combination!

  • Herrera says:

    He was passed over by the Boston Symphony when it selected Nelsons, and Gatti was inelegant enough to complain about it to the press (New York Times or Boston Globe, I forget which), something to the effect, “they asked me to come all the way to conduct, asked if I was available, I said I was, and I then I heard nothing from them”.

    Orchestras have to move fast these days to get their man (or woman). I think both the Concertgebouw and Nelsons would have been happier together, had the BSO not acted first…

  • Patrick says:

    second rate conductor for one of the best orchestra in the World. In retrospect Jansons was right to prefer the Bavarian Radio….

    • Manu says:

      When they choose Jansons they were wise, but when they choose Gatti they have no idea… very potent your point.

    • newyorker says:

      Your statement is illogical. One of the best orchestras in the world? but Jansons was right to go elsewhere?

      You are clearly someone with an axe to grind!

  • Patrick says:

    terrible choice

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    As the Dutch saying goes: “De beste stuurlui staan aan wal!” – the best sailors stand on the quay. I hope the comments here are not written by sour would-be conductors, but it certainly feels that way. Only time will tell whether the RCO has picked the best maestro. The Dutch press (e.g.Trouw, NRC) sounds very pleased, and mentions a sublime Mahler 9 and Fslstaff. In addition, the RCO musicians have developed a very good relationship with Gatti since his first appeatance in Amsterdam in 2004. I suggest holding back with prejudices and assumptions.

    • sdReader says:

      Mahler 9 is always sublime and Falstaff is not the Concertgebouw’s job.

      • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

        Falstaff WAS the RCO’s job, as it sat in the pit at Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam in June. The NO always has a different band in the pit as the company does not have its own. Rattle conducted a sublime Parsifal with RCO at NO. Please stop knowing everything better. In this case you have shown you know nothing. The embarrassment is entirely yours, and it makes me angry that the rest of us here have to endure it. Back to your cage!

  • Andrew R. Barnard says:

    Why couldn’t they have hired one of the rising young conductors, like Jurowski or Harding? Gatti seems a poor choice.

  • Herrera says:

    On a related note, would people agree that this period (including when Abbado was still alive) is the golden age of Italian conductors? Never have so many Italian conductors been the head of so many top orchestras / opera houses internationally (let’s not mention the situation in Italy out of politeness :)). Indeed, is there any other nationality that has so many top conductors now?

    • Anonymus says:

      I think the Russians and Russian-educated conductors far outnumber the Italians in top positions, if you want to put a nationalistic perspective on this. The Finns are also strong, particularly for their small population size.

      • Herrera says:

        Fine, let’s do the tally:

        Italians (not including Italian institutions, obviously):

        Abbado – London, Vienna State Opera, Berlin, Lucerne
        Muti – London Phil, Philadelphia, Chicago
        Chailly – Concertgebouw, Leipzig Gewandhaus
        Gattti- Zurich Opera, Concertgebouw
        Luisi – Dresden (Staatskappele and Semperoper), Zurich Opera

        Russians (not including Russian institutions, obviously):

        Gergiev – London, Munich
        Jurowski – Glyndebourne, London Phil

        Well, I’ll let you do the rest of the Soviet bloc, but it’s mainly just the Concertgebouw and the Orchestre de Paris.

        • Anonymus says:

          Well, I think we should stick to living conductors, so Abbado is out. There are also a lot of dead Russian guys…
          And you are not current on Luisi, he is not in Dresden anymore for over four years now.

          “Premier league” Russian or Russian-educated (as I said originally) conductors educated in the vicinity of the former Soviet sphere of influence:
          Gergiev, Wladimir Jurowski, Maris Jansons, the Järvi clan: Neme, Paavo, Kristjan, Temirkanov, Vasily Petrenko, Kyrill Petrenko, Andris Nelsons, etc…

          • Herrera says:

            “…Abbado is out. There are also a lot of dead Russian guys…”

            But there is no dead Russian Abbado either! How convenient to knock out the competition who led Berlin. You know there is no Russian (or Russian educated) conductor to rival Abbado, dead or alive.

            “And you are not current on Luisi, he is not in Dresden anymore for over four years now.”

            And Muti is no longer at Philadelphia! This is a list of all their past appointments to show the tremendous breadth of top orchestras they headed in their lifetime. If you are going to knock out past appointments then Gergiev loses London soon enough.

            “Russian or Russian-educated (as I said originally) conductors educated in the vicinity of the former Soviet sphere of influence”

            OK, you know you are stretching it, right? I mean, “in the vicinity”? Japan is in the vicinity, so why not Seji Ozawa? Korea is in the vicinity, why not include Chung? Hungary is in the vicinity, you get Solti, Szell, but alas, they are dead 😉

            Finally, all those names you give, you don’t give the name of the “top orchestras”, that is part of the comparison, otherwise it’s just a list of names. Like I said, they will include just the Concertgebouw, Orchestra of Paris, and Boston. Neither better nor more than the Italian list I gave.

            By the way I am NOT Italian or European, so I have no problem with Russian conductors being the best in the world. I’m just making some objective observations about the preeminence of Italian conductors from circa end of 20th C to beginning of 21st C.

          • Herrera says:

            OK, all ribbing aside, I concede that “Russian-educated” is probably a better measure than “Russian born”, because it is the education that counts. But then if we go by where they were trained, it gets really messy. All those “Italian” conductors were trained in Vienna, influenced greatly by the Viennese ensembles they conducted, etc. Likewise for the Russian trained guys, who followed the same path through through Vienna as well. (It’d seem only the Finns and the Americans (MTT, Levine, Gilbert, Bernstein) don’t go through Vienna.)

            Did I mention I have a list of French jazz musicians who are better than any other nationality? 😉

          • Anonymus says:

            I’m usually not interested in these pissing matches based on national license plates.
            But you were asking for a deceased Russian conductor with the format of Abbado? There are a few.
            Mrawinskij comes immediately to mind.
            Noseda, btw, to name another excellent living Italian conductor, is largely influenced by the Russian school. It is impossible in today’s globalized musical world to trace the immersion of growing later-to-be conductors back to only one national culture.

          • Anonymus says:

            …oh and the Russians have not gone through Vienna usually. They had old man Musin putting out one great conductor after the other in St. Petersburg like a factory.

          • newyorker says:

            Sorry, I just had to insert myself to point out that Bychkov is also an absolutely excellent and interesting conductor who I’m surprised hasn’t got mentioned yet.

            Anyway. As you were saying.

          • sdReader says:

            +1 @ Newyorker.

            The option of 3 Finns or Gatti — for this orchestra! — was absurd.

        • MusikPiratCH says:

          I don’t agree with you that no Russian-educated conductor surpassed Abbado. For my taste Mariss Jansons is much better than Abbado. Unfortunately he left the Concertgebouw – what a pitty! ;(

  • Laurids says:

    Really, so many know-it-all silly billys.
    The orchestra has chosen whom it wanted from a broad and rich field of conductors.
    One must live with the fact that these first rate musicians know which man is best for them. Malicious gossipers need not apply.

  • Willem says:

    Gatti is a great maestro and a great person. And – what’s the most important thing – he is free in his choices, because he is not hyped by masonic circles or press agents.
    The best orchestra in the world deserves this chief conductor.
    Well done!

  • Martin says:

    I attended one concert Gatti conducted. Mahler 9 with Zurich’s Opera orchestra. Dreadful. Whenever I see the name Gatti I remember and think….ah, thanks, but no thanks.

  • harold braun says:

    Great Choice!!!

  • John says:

    The Concertgebouw is a revered institution, one of the finest orchestras in the world. I suspect they knew what they were doing in hiring Maestro Gatti. I’m sure some of you are just put out that they didn’t ask you first.

    Why don’t we all settle down and wish both of them the best.

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      Agreed. Let’s have a martini (shaken, not stirred)and toast RCO and Gatti! Those who don’t like Gatti can stay away or drink lemonade.

  • newyorker says:

    I can’t believe how divided the opinions on here are!

    For the record, I AM a sour underemployed conductor, but I am not an amateur armchair record critic like some posters here… I have seen Gatti work and he’s excellent.

    • Pamela Brown says:

      The Met’s Parsifal with Gatti is the only production of that opera I’ll ever watch again. Let’s give him a chance…:-)

    • A.D. says:

      Thank you for your studied & experienced opinion, unlike the others here who probably have never stepped in front of a podium – brings a lot of clarity.

  • Papageno says:

    I’ve never liked Daniele Gatti’s interpretations, which I’ve found underwhelming. However, he was clearly the guy that the band wanted. So good luck to them.

  • Ray Richardson says:

    Spot on as usual with your hot tips Norman! Sept 12th you told us

    “We hear the Concertgebouw has very quickly put together a shortlist of the maestros it wants to consider to succeed Mariss Jansons. Three are Finns: Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Sakari Oramo. Paavo Jarvi was added, two weeks ago, the moment he announced his departure from the Orchestre de Paris. The fifth name is unknown to us at this point – See more at:

    But then perhaps it wasGatti they had up their sleeve. Nothing to say that he wasnt actually at the head of the list!

    I heard him on a tv broadcast from the Proms a few yrs back with the RPO and was disappointed with the performance. But surely as the Concertgebouw musicians have such a great say in musical matters, it does seem that this must be the choice that the orchestra wanted. And remember, they’ve not made a wrong choice in their history of long reigning chiefs yet. I’ve had the good fortune to hear them live with Jansons twice this year, two wonderful concerts. We must now wait and see why it is that they’ve made this choice.

  • portox says:

    Now this for sure means that the Concergebouw will loose its top position in the orchestra rankings.

  • Abendroth says:

    I have only one thing to say, really : good luck… I live in Paris and I can’t stand to see the National Orchestra anymore, at least when Gatti conducts. Of course the ONF has lost a lot of its quality for years (since the very beginning of years 2000, when Svetlanov was regularly conducting concerts), and that is not only Gatti’s fault, but he is part of the problem. I had never seen such dull interpretations for years before he undertook the orchestra’s musical direction. This is the case in the romantic repertoire, that he seems uninterested in (but then, why does he conduct it ?), but it is also the case in the late romantic and XXth century music, in which he is supposed to be “good”. Frankly, I had never heard such boring readings of Berg (a Lulu symphony from 2 years ago still angers me when thinking about it), all his Mahler symphonies were complete failures, and the Sacre du printemps might be what he performed the most since the beginning of his tenure, but he still makes mistakes in it. Yes, mistakes, forgetting what the time signature is, or even missing an entire bar or two ! (Such a mistake was also witnessed at the Proms a few years back, if I’m not mistaken).

    So, good luck, but please, the comparison with Chailly stops at their nationality. Chailly has its particularities but he is a real professional. With Gatti, it will be a different thing. I enjoy hearing the Concertgebouw live once or twice a year, but I doubt the result will be the same without a competent conductor…

  • Nydo says:

    Because, after hearing him for about 15 years with many different orchestra, Gatti is simply a better conductor. I have heard amazing concerts that he has conducted with The New York Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Academia di Santa Cecilia, and the Boston Symphony, He has conducted several wonderful performances that I have heard at the Met. His Berg and Dutilleux recording with the Concertgebouw is one of the best that I have heard on their house label, and his recordings with the Royal Phil and Santa Cecilia are really outstanding, if small in number. Jurowski and Harding both show signs of being good at times; they will end up with more high profile jobs soon enough.

  • Tristan says:

    the most overrated conductor around. Terrible Elektra at Zurich Opera house and Salzburg, even worse gis Meistersinger in Salzburg and the even most boring audience on earth there has booed him. The list is endless, what a disastrous choice.

  • Aimereg46 says:

    to me the problem is not Gatti but the fact that whoever succeeds Jansons is not Jansons! When you already have the best, it’s difficult to live up to it. Jarvi, Pekka Salonel or Gatti himself are good conductors but they are not stars like Jansons.

  • david wilson-johnson says:

    oh dear…just a matter of time before they regret it big time……

  • John says:

    Quite. So many little fellows trying to make themselves grand by appearing to be in the know. No sale.

    • sdReader says:

      Snob discovers Internet.

      • A.D. says:

        YOU are clearly the snob – excellent conductor, not perfect, but overall, assured, polished, competent, thorough, prepared. Off nights? Possibly but no need to denigrate the entire package.

  • Aimereg46 says:

    Not necessarily young age but young to mid age, yes. If you pick up someone who’s 70, he’s not going to stay for a long time and you won’t be able to build something new and enduring with that conductor. The idea is for a successfull conductor to stay 10+ years.

  • ML says:

    I did not like his Mendelssohn #4 and Beethoven #3 with the CSO. His Mendelssohn pales in comparison with Muti’s interpretation later, and his Eroica rushed. However, the relationship between a conductor and an orchestra is very much like a marriage: Gatti’s lack of success with certain orchestras does not necessarily imply he would fail with the Concertgebouw. At this moment, I am inclined to believe the musicians of Concertgebouw knew what they were doing and give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this marriage will eventually work out.

  • John Manger says:

    Having worked alongside Gatti for a number of years, I can assure you that if an orchestra responds well to his style of working, they will play their collective hearts out for him. Just ask NYPO, Vienna Phil, RPO, and now Concertgebouw professional musicians about Gatti’s qualities, and you will hear nothing but admiration.

  • John says:

    Is it simply too heartbreaking that the poor innocents at the Concertgebouw did not first
    turn to such as Abendroth, SDReader and Tristan for enlightenment and
    guidance. Ach, a historic blunder of the gravest stripe. One could weep for what might
    have been.

    • sdReader says:

      The poor innocents did not research. They chose from a handful of “names.” They should have been looking more widely, at maybe 30 or 40 conductors, including, inevitably, people new to them. Why? Because the established stars built up by the record industry in the 70s and 80s, before the industry essentially imploded, are few now, and mostly not available or interested. A list of four or five that included Gatti and Saraste (!) was simply not properly researched, given the considerable but relatively unestablished conducting talent pool around today. For comparison, 30 years ago, manager Ernest Fleischmann did his own talent scouting and hired an unknown Finn for a top American orchestra solely on the basis of a Mahler concert in London. He knew what he was doing. The players were informed.

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    But the RCO will always be an “essential” orchestra and a great one. History shows that great orchestras endure and survive mediocre conductors with their comparative standings in tact.
    BTW, this is not a comment on Maestro Gatti, but just a general reflection.

  • Julia soret says:

    Gatti is the best conductor around. Period.