Breaking: James Levine to make Europe return

We hear that the Met conductor James Levine will return to Europe for the first time in eight years next summer to perform at the Verbier Festival.

Also on the festival agenda is a conducting debut by the retired baritone, Thomas Quasthoff.

Details later.


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  • Paraphrase of a comment by Max Rudolf: A great conductor is a person who, through the force of personality and quality of musicianship, inspires and incites great performances from an ensemble. (that’s the essence of what he said, I don’t remember the exact words).

  • Is “next summer” the summer of 2015? Or the summer of 2016? Levine is also guest conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra next season! What do you suppose the “over-under” is for when he will guest-conduct the Boston Symphony? I imagine there’d have to be a complete change in the BSO’s management, no?

    • James Levine is scheduled to open the Verbier Festival on Friday July 17, 2015 conducting Schubert Sym. No. 9 with the remainder of the program TBA

    • No, it would have to be a 100% change in the musicians. The Boston Symphony’s Levine era was a disaster: the musicians never liked Levine, and they weren’t sorry to see him go.

      • “The Boston Symphony’s Levine era was a disaster: the musicians never liked Levine”. You might check out the BSO’s recording the Brahms Requiem or the Mahler 6th. These are wonderful performances, emblematic of what he did in Symphony Hall every time he conducted. To the extent that perhaps some musicians didn’t “like” Levine, it was because he worked them very hard in the service of giving excellent performances. The musicians in Cleveland didn’t “like” Szell either. The Levine era was not a “disaster” except for Levine, whose injuries and illnesses, none of them self-inflicted despite claims of the hate brigade, finally made it impossible for him to do the job.

  • Further to my reply to Alex’s comment above, is anyone able to clarify, was James Levine really subject to an EU travel ban like, for example, Robert Mugabe? It sounds extremely unlikely.

  • I attended most of the concerts conducted by Levine in Boston. His years there included many of the greatest orchestral concerts I have heard-the Beethoven/Schoenberg year-Fidelio with Mattila and Heppner, Moses and Aaron, a concert with Tetzlaff that started and ended with the Grosse Fugue and included their violin concerti-a concert with Barenboim that included piano concerti by each of the composers. Other memorable concerts include Mahler 8, the German Requiem, Ives 2, a concert with cellist Lynn Harrell that included the Ligeti and Lutoslawski concerti.
    There was audience complaining and apparently complaining by members of the Orchestra that the concerts were too long. After the horrible last 10 years of the Ozawa era, it was a blessing for me at least.

    • I attended many of the concerts you cite and could not agree more. Another measure of how good Levine was for the BSO can be seen in how well they played in the years between Levine’s leaving and Nelsons’s hiring, when they had no music director.
      Some of the musicians DID complain about the length of some of his concerts, but that conflict had been ironed out well before Levine left the orchestra. All of which is to say that “Sonatas Happen’s” two comments above—“The Boston Symphony’s Levine era was a disaster” and “the musicians never liked Levine”—are false and malicious.

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