Is no one sorry to see maestros go?

Is no one sorry to see maestros go?


norman lebrecht

February 11, 2015

Three music directors are working out their long farewells.


gergiev injury

Valery Gergiev is in his final months with the London Symphony Orchestra. When he announced his switch to the Munich Philharmonic, the public reaction was one of mild irritation, no more. Gergiev has been an absentee landlord in London.

In 2013 Simon Rattle gave the Berlin Philharmonic five years’ notice to find a successor. His wind-down era is acquiring a roseate glow, but no-one then or since has begged him to reconsider.



Alan Gilbert called time on the New York Philharmonic last weekend. Again, barely a twitch of regret from musicians or public.

Russell Platt in the New Yorker reflects soberly on the new short-termism.

And others are starting to wonder: Do maestros really matter so little?

New York Philharmonic


  • rambonito says:

    Maybe because the orchestrad wanted them to leave…?

  • Alberto Martinez says:

    Maestros matter in a world where culture matter and music appreciation is developed.Music is viewed as entertaiment so it´s not big deal to see a new conductor… unfortunately

  • Scott says:

    A contrary example would be Osmo Vänskä with the Minnesota Orchestra–there the community demanded his return and would not take “no” for an answer. And after an epic struggle that shook the organization from top to bottom… warmly welcomed him back.

  • Halldor says:

    Rattle will have spent 17 years in Berlin. Funny sort of “short-termism”…

  • Johann S says:

    Are Maestros ever sorry to see their players go?

    I am sorry for music’s sake when a Kleiber, Bernstein or Karajan passes on.

    Today’s conductors are orchestra hoppers with little sense of ownership to the product that would be their orchestra.

    Lately Berlin Phil has had a crop of second and third tier stick wavers in front of them – something that would rarely happened in Karajan’s era! Rattle is a grand master; Berlin deserves another grand master!

  • erich says:

    There are very, very few conductors today if any able to fill a hall on their own without a top soloist. Even Jansons, Rattle, Gergiev, Muti, Barenboim etc. have that problem. The charisma of a Kleiber, Karajan and Bernstein is simply missing. The record companies cannot promote them to the same extent, the promoters are under enormous pressure to provide ‘quick fixes’ with well-known works, resulting more often than not in identikit programmes – and the internet has simply provided too much instant gratification – and competition – at the click of a mouse. As a result, audience ‘promiscuity’ means that individual artists lack the devoted followers of yore.

  • MacroV says:

    I’m not sure what orchestras are supposed to do. Sir Simon decided 16 years in Berlin is enough, and that’s a very decent tenure, so who’s to argue? The business model of the LSO seems to preclude it having a truly involved leader, so Gergiev leaving after a few years isn’t so surprising or disruptive. The real surprise is Gilbert, who seems to be just getting started in shaping the Philharmonic. But what kind of reaction are the orchestras supposed to have? These are professionals who presumably made well thought-out decisions, and maybe the institutions and musicians are respecting that.

  • JAMA11 says:

    Short-termism? Are you kidding? What would constitute an acceptable length of service in a job like this? Is Alan Gilbert’s 8 years not enough? Do you have to measure service in decades? Do we want every orchestra saddled with a music director who can’t figure out when to leave, like Ozawa in Boston? 8-10 years is an IDEAL length of service for a music director.

  • Harry Kirschner says:

    In the U.S., it’s hard to miss someone who isn’t ‘there’ to begin with. The MD is typically in town for 8 to 12 disjointed weeks where a rank-and-file subscriber will get one, maybe two, evenings with the MD on the stand. Spare time, if any, is programmed to the minute with most attention going to the donors who pony up for the privilege.

  • Rgiarola says:

    Do we should include the 5 years Gothenburg/Dudamel on it?