When a music director must quit

When a music director must quit


norman lebrecht

December 12, 2014

Ludovic Morlot, resigning today at La Monnaie, is the sixth music director in three months to leave his post peremptorily and without warning.

Franz Welser-Möst walked out of Vienna because he could not agree artistic plans with the general director, Dominique Meyer, himself under extreme pressure to cut costs.

Riccardo Muti left Rome, Nicola Luisotti quit Naples and Daniele Rustioni abandoned Bari over economic stringencies. Gianandrea Noseda resigned in Turin after a clash with the administration, then returned.

Morlot in Brussels (reading between the lines) could not get cooperation from recalcitrant orchestral players.

These are all enough reasons to make anyone quit. What has changed this year is that music directors used to give two or three years’ notice through their agents before they terminated an engagement. Now they just slap a sheet of paper on the director’s desk and are gone before the echo fades.

Some administrators are unhappy at this instant resignation trend, understandably so. Meyer found himself with 34 empty podium nights to fill.

In our view, however, it is a vast improvement on past convention where a  music director would work out his contract with a visibly unhappy orchestra and administration. We can recall many unedifying instances of music directors in London, Paris, Berlin and particularly Vienna where the sight of a music director working out his notice without sharing dialogue or affection with the musicians, administrators or public. Lorin Maazel’s last days in Vienna were simply miserable. He would have done far better to do as today’s maestro’s do – quit and be gone.


maazel tough



  • Malcolm James says:

    Mark Wigglesworth did not even take up his post at la Monnaie because of discontent in the orchestra. Whilst MW allegedly had form, maybe it was six of one and half a dozen of the other.

  • Luk Vaes says:

    Does this mean the contractual conditions are different? I would think that the traditionally heavy cost of an immediate resignation was the reason for the ‘serving’ of the remainder of the contract in discontent.

  • Douglas Nasrawi says:

    The Brussels orchestra will never forgive the direction for pushing out Kazushi Ono.

  • Mark says:

    maybe time for the Brussels orchestra to resign and replace it with a better and more motivated orchestra?

    • Laura says:

      …and perhaps an orchestra with a reputation to match their own opinion of themselves… They actually had the gall years ago to complain about “how hard the music was and that this is shit music” – – about Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Get over yourselves and work with these good musicians the administration is throwing your way.