The music directors New York does not need

The music directors New York does not need


norman lebrecht

March 22, 2015

Critics at the parish-pump have published a wish-list of music directors for the New York Philharmonic. Slipped Disc responds with a list of the ones the orchestra needs to avoid.



1 The been-there, done-that


david robertson

2 The all-American hopeful


thielemann sport2

3 The political hot potato


susannah malkki

4 The specialist’s modernist


John-Eliot-Gardner-Bach-Marathon-620x319 (1)

5 The early bird



6 The Finn end


ivan fischer

7 The one who’ll turn them down


Beyond this list and the Times’s, there are six candidates of outstanding suitability, none of whom has yet been mentioned. Some have yet to audition in New York. We’ll discuss their prospects in due course.



1 Kent Nagano
2 David Robertson
3 Christian Thielemann
4 Susanna Mälkki
5 John Eliot Gardiner
6 Esa-Pekka Salonen
7 Ivan Fischer


  • William Stribling says:

    How about some names?

  • M2N2K says:

    However, the number 6 here is a rather realistic possibility at this point, with number 2 still having a small chance as well.

  • erich says:

    An obvious choice would be Tony Pappano, who has all the possible qualifications.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I miss one obvious option: Jaap van Zweden, who works with all the American top orchestras (including the NY Phil), is a hit with the Chicago, turned the Dallas into a top orchestra, catapulted the Hong Kong Phil into renown, debuted with great success with the Vienna and Berlin Phils, and fulfils all the NY requirements.

  • herrera says:

    NY needs to go big. Simon Rattle.

    Offer him enough money ($3.5 million per annum). Buy out his LSO contract (it can’t be that much, London doesn’t pay that much). Tell David Geffen to foot another $100 million to build an entirely new hall to compete with Carnegie.

    Rattle would have no choice but to come.

    • M2N2K says:

      The notion that for $100 million it is possible to build an “entirely new” concert hall in NY that is good enough to “compete with Carnegie” is just as funny as the notion that for the rest of his life Sir Simon will ever be in a position where he will have “no choice but to come”.

  • NYO-USA Cellist says:

    He’s had some conflict with his players in Dallas, and the NY Phil can be a tricky bunch for a conductor to handle (MTT hasn’t been back in ages for something he said decades ago)…

    • M2N2K says:

      Good point.

    • MWnyc says:

      I always figured that was one reason the Phil chose to go with Alan Gilbert when he was still so young: he was one conductor the musicians weren’t going to be mean to, because he literally grew up in their midst and his mother was still one of them.

  • Nick Rogieri says:

    Has the Hong Kong Philharmonic become a better orchestra since Mr. Zweden’s appointment? I’ve heard many wildly differentiated viewpoints on this, and judging by the reviews of some of their concerts on the last tour, they are equally differentiated among the critics. Chicago loves him? Surely he doesn’t behave the same as he would at home when he is a guest conductor, right?

  • Brian says:

    Who’s the political hot potato in the rugby shirt? He doesn’t ring a bell by appearance (obviously not Gergiev or Petrenko).

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Why should they avoid them?

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    …with the exception of Kent Meccano, of course.

  • theusualdribble says:

    We were all told to avoid the CNN “best orchestra in the world” list because there was no source behind it. We should now avoid the list above and what is to come because of the source behind it. Nevertheless, always fun to see the reactions, especially the Sir Simon buyout craziness. Let’s guess what the slippedisc list will look like: 1) The predictable: Dudal, 2) The old Russian: Jansons, 3) The newbie: Heras-Casado, 4) The younger Russion: Jurowski, 5) The Italian Stallion: Noseda, 6) The Flying Dutchman: Van Zweden

  • john mclaughlin williams says:

    The job should be advertised as “only Americans need apply”. A little jingoism in our great orchestras couldn’t hurt.

    • M2N2K says:

      How little? Any kind of preferential treatment in such matters equals discrimination and is therefore unfair and counterproductive.

  • Ppellay says:

    By the same token, the gentlemen and lady listed above most likely don’t need New York: at least five of them do far more interesting work where they are right now!

    • M2N2K says:

      Perhaps they don’t “need” NY, but most of them would still be very unlikely to ignore NY if and when NY comes calling.