Mariss Jansons: I am ashamed of Munich

Mariss Jansons: I am ashamed of Munich


norman lebrecht

February 13, 2015

Friends of Mariss Jansons say he may quit the Bavarian Radio orchestra over the city’s backtracking on its promise to build a new concert hall.

It has emerged that BR were not consulted by the authorities before the decision was taken, although the Munich Philharmonic was. Boih Jansons and his orchestra are taking this snub to heart.

In an interview with Die Zeit, Jansons was asked about Munich and its musical reputation. He said: ‘I’ve been ashamed of it for years.’



  • Aimere46 says:

    He wont leave. He said in a press conference on Tuesday that he’ll stay until the end of his contract, in 2018.

  • Jan de Jong says:

    It is not a secret that Jansons decided to keep Munich and leave Amsterdam in order to get the so much needed concert hall here.
    The decision to keep the Gasteig is a serious blow for the maestro.

  • hypocritesgalore says:

    Jansons should have done more than expect a concert hall to magically appear. After a while these people are living in fantasy land. He took the job with the understanding there would be a new hall. However, he is not a volunteer. He makes a lot of Euros. The hypocrisy is deafening. It is the audience that should be ashamed of his sanctimonious statements.

  • Anon says:

    It is shameful, how clueless Jansons seems to be, when it comes to understanding the political realities of his employer.
    First faux pas: as the chief conductor of the radio orchestra, you don’t take that fight to the public. You work it behind the scenes:
    Why? Bavaria is ruled by one party, CSU, for decades. That party is opposed to the principle of publicly funded broadcast and has an agenda of privatization. But also the law FORBIDS a public funding from tax money for an orchestra, that is financed by broadcasting fees. No public outrage can ever built such hall.

    The public hand can NEVER build a hall, if the primary purpose of that hall is perceived by the public as serving that radio orchestra. It would be an illegal subsidy. So therefore BR would be well advised to lobby out of view of the public eye and build alliances behind closed doors.
    What is happening at the moment is the dumbest behavior imaginable. Orchestra committee and chief conductor publicly embarrassing the CSU ruled state government. That will only damage their cause.

    Legitimate voices are the independent artists such as Anne-Sophie Mutter, Christian Gerhaher and others, who vividly describe the need for a competitive hall for Munich and it’s many fractions of musical life (but not for BRSO only!)

    Munich has only a chance in succeeding with a new hall, if all fractions interested in a hall build an alliance and build thus momentum. The opposite is happening. A clueless BRSO chief conductor is breaking the porcelain with his public remarks so to speak, instead of working the backdoor diplomacy channels to the maximum.

    • SDReader says:

      You must not have seen the MPhil’s spectacularly empty statement on Thursday. No hope of coordination with their bureaucratic Intendant Paul Müller!

    • Matt Denerov says:

      Jansons seems poorly equpped in the realm of politics. in Oslo there was a similar issue. The Oslo Concert Hall had acoustical issues, and as the profile of the Oslo Philharmonic under Jansons grew it was determined the issues had to be fixed.

      Then there was an ongoing, multi-year feud about how far the renovations would go, with Jansons demanding essentially a complete gut and rebuild, and the city proposing more modest adjustments.

      Nothing was done, and eventually Jansons exploded in scorched-earth tactics, burning every bridge there ever was and resigning. Not that Jansons wasn’t correct in many of his judgements, but he seems to have a sharp anger curve.

  • hypocritesgalore says:

    Maybe “empty” statements are made because some people understand how the system works and not evrything need be written out in a public blog and in the press?

  • Harwood87 says:

    Actually in light of the horrific cost explosions in Hamburg and Paris politicians are justified in thinking twice about building a new concert hall. The Philharmonie at the the Gasteig Center has to be renovated anyway and it makes good pragmatic sense to kill two birds with one stone by exploring the possibility of having both orchestras share that concert hall with improved acoustics. The construction of a new hall and the renovation of two existing ones (let’s not forget about the Herkulessaal) would be quite a hard sell to the taxpayers. By the way, the acoustics at the Philharmonie are not as bad as they have been portrayed in the media. It is not a great hall but not nearly as bad as the Bavarian Radio would have you believe. The chief issue here is not the acoustics but the desire of the Bavarian Radio to have its own home and get first crack on booking dates. Let’s face it, no matter what the apologists for classical music would have you believe, classical music is not a booming business and the prospects for the future are not rosy.

    • Classic says:

      I think it’s legitimate for an orchestra of the level of the BRSO to have their own hall. It’s shame that politicians promised the new hall and then backed off.

      • Anon says:

        Politicians can’t build a new hall *for* BR-SO. Because that would be illegal use of tax money. (BR-SO is broadcast fee financed). However the politicians could decide to build a new hall for Munich and *all* its many classical music fractions, and BR-SO could also benefit from it…
        Bavarian CSU will *never ever* build anything primarily for BR, because they are ideologically opposed to the concept of a public broadcasting system. So BR-SO will only get a new hall if they play this game very smart and let the other more legitimate voices work the public… Doesn’t look like it at the moment, because they can’t keep their mouth shut.

    • Anon says:

      Classical music is not a booming business, no. Actually it is no business at all. It is culture, it is art, with a business aspect to it. And it is doing actually very well in Germany and Bavaria.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Not rosy? Recent research seems to indicate otherwise, at least in Germany, as appears from the same article in Die Zeit:

      “….So sorgten 2013 klassische Konzerte und Opernaufführungen bundesweit für stärkere Umsätze (712 Millionen Euro) als der gesamte Pop-Bereich. Und mögen 74 Prozent der Klassikfans auch über 60 Jahre alt sein und den berüchtigten “Silbersee” bilden, so schlagen die 10- bis 19-Jährigen doch mit 21 Prozent zu Buche.”

      Classical concerts have, in 2013, generated more profit than the total of pop-concerts, 74% classic fans are older than 60 but 21% are teenagers. And the trend is rising, not sinking.

  • william osborne says:

    The article notes that in 2013, concert and opera performances in Germany earned more money (712 million Euros) than all of pop music. It also notes that audience members from 10 to 19 years old represent 21% of the classical music public. These numbers are the result of education and public arts funding.

    The article also says the renovations on the Gasteig will cost between 200 and 450 million Euros. Paris got and brand new hall for 380 million.

    • william osborne says:

      I understand that these new building plans were developed by Mad King Ludwig….

      • John Borstlap says:

        King Ludwig was not mad, and surely he would have decided to have a new hall built right in Muchich’s center and would have insisted upon a design, following the Viennese Musikverein, with more gold and larger foyers and staircases. And the whole of Germany woud flock to Munich to spend money on tickets, hotels, restaurants, public toilets, department stores and taxis. Think of Ludwig’s castles which draw so much tourists from all over the world.

  • Has been says:

    Surely he is paving the way to go to Berlin, although Berlin can not pay as much as Munich.