Mock election: Berlin public want a young Philharmonic chief

Mock election: Berlin public want a young Philharmonic chief


norman lebrecht

April 26, 2015

The results of the public vote are in… and they are decisive.

More than half the votes cast (51%) went to two men in their thirties, Andris Nelsons and Gustavo Dudamel (voters were not informed that Dude has made himself unavailable). Thielemann was polled 17%

Here are the poll results:

Andris Nelsons: 448 votes

Gustavo Dudamel: 229

Christian Thielemann: 223

Daniel Barenboim: 125

Mariss Jansons: 116

Riccardo Chailly: 56

Riccardo Muti: 47

Yannick Nézet-Séguin: 37

Others: 37

nelsons nobel


  • herrera says:

    If Dudamel goes not get Berlin now, his career will pretty much plateau with the LA Phil because I don’t think any other major orchestra or opera house will want him in the future as much as Berlin wants him now.

    He is a mega star now because he is young now, but soon he will be middle age, and his peers at middle age are more mature and credible artists.

  • Orchestralplayer says:

    Please stop all the nonsense and ridiculous speculation. The players themselves will decide. They know best ! Fed up with all the idiotic, ignorant, fashion-dictated comments on the subject. I have never read so much rubbish about orchestras and conductors in my life as I have read in this blog.

  • Berliner says:

    I was at the Philharmonie for the concert last night, and voted alongside countless other Berliners. Considering it was a concert conducted by Andris Nelsons, it’s hardly surprising that he got voted as the favourite to take over. Furthermore, by the numbers quoted here it looks as if only just over half of the audience voted last night of what was a very full house. I’d certainly be interested to see what the other 1100 audience members would have to say about this. Certainly, Nelsons is popular, but it has seemed that for the last few months public opinion has swayed wildly towards whoever is conducting that particular concert. Friends who work inside the Philharmonie seem to suggest that the orchestra is very divided about Rattle’s successor. The Orchestra itself has to weigh up many factors in order to make their decision (one which I do not envy). Given Dudamel’s contract extension in LA and Thielemann’s suspect political agenda and traditional programming, the orchestra’s final decision may well be a surprising one.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Chances are, Dudamel and Nelsons will be better musicians and better conductors in 20 years. Will public and media attention keep up with them or will they be treated like yesterday’s news?

  • Martin Locher says:

    One should not that the votes were collected before a Berlin Philharmonic concert conducted by Nelsons.

  • DLowe says:

    Reality is that neither of them will take it. It would be madness for Dudamel to take it, and he’s indicated with his LA renewal that he’s not interested. I can’t see Nelsons doing it either, after this new job he’s just taken on. The only ‘youf’ candidate, so to speak, is Thielemann.

    Thielemann v Barenboim v Jansons.

  • Greg says:


  • Marter says:

    Thielemann is the man right now.

  • avi kujman says:

    Well…what is the relation to R. Muti? He is signed in Chicago till 2020, and told many times that this is his last station…
    There is something very sad hete with respect of Berlin’s attitude.
    They need Muti to invite them to him, and not the other way around…
    The situation of Chicago Orchestra under his leading could not have been better.
    At any rate, the pick for him was always La Scala, which he has conducted more than 20 years, before and after the fiasco in the end, and not Berlin…if at all in the Germanic world, it is Vienna, not Berlin that is first for him- and with which he has a relation of more than 40 years.
    It would have been nice if they would have picked Ivan Fisher. But again; they cannot just pick him…

    • ganymede says:

      Please, not Muti to Berlin! I have experienced the transition from Abbado to Muti in Milan and his tenure at la Scala. It was a disaster, the orchestral playing deteriorated massively under Muti and his refusal to invite notable guest conductors certainly didn’t help. He played God there, a bit like Karajan in Berlin though without Karajan’s musical qualities. His concerts since which I have heard have been dull as well, both the Vienna and Chicago ones.

  • avi kujman says:

    As an indication, Muti had his first guess concert in Berlin after five years and it is not because he was uninvited. To Vienna he goes couples of times a year…

  • Greg says:

    Seymon Bychkov I think would be the best candidate for the new and one of the younger generation might get it 10-15 years from know when they learn and know more. Even Karajan did not get the job in his 30’s.

    • Guy says:

      But Furtwängler did get the job in his 30’s…
      Unfortunately we have no Furtwängler in his 30’s around to take the job.

    • ML says:

      I totally agree. After going to his concerts with the CSO in the past two weeks, I am convinced he is a good candidate for the Berlin. I already knew Bychkov can do first-rate Shostakovich and Russian repertoire, now I also know he can do excellent Bruckner. His abilities with French repertoire are amply demonstrated in his recordings, too. It would be great for Bychkov and Berlin if he gets the job, even though this implies he has much less time for U.S. orchestras.

  • Erich says:

    Talk about unscientific, this represents around 1300 newspaper commenters.

    In any case, the group of Barenboim, Muti, Jansons, Thielemann and Chailly has been the stock wish list for the past 30 years (one could add Maazel, Giulini and Kleiber (ha!) as well). These are previous generation conductors (and wonderful ones at that) and all have worked for years (or decades) with Berlin. Furtwangler was 37 when he was appointed, Karajan 47, Abbado 56 and Rattle 47, all younger than this list will be in 2018. I honestly don’t see what any of this group would bring to the BPO in 2018 beyond pedigree and some fine interpretations of Brahms, Beethoven and Bruckner.

    This is the way American orchestras have looked at MD searches up until a few years ago: find the big name with a few hundred recordings under his belt and try to keep him for 5-10 years. Not to say Barenboim and Muti haven’t been great in Chicago, but I see Berlin looking at a 20-year proposition to keep the orchestra on the cutting edge.

  • RW2013 says:

    Nelsons MUST stay
    in the U.S. and A.
    You merrkins wanted him, you keep him.
    And the Berliner Morgenpost is a very trashy rag.

  • Musiker says:

    That survey by Springer press and rbb is not worth a penny. Springer press is opposed to Thielemann (for obvious reasons). RBB (Petra Gute) is “dicke Tinte” with the anti Thielemann fraction in the orchestra (expats e.g. Sarah Willis etc.).
    Also obviously rbb (TV) wants a younger dude for visual exploitation reasons alone.

    The method of the survey apparently was targeted questioning of certain people. We are safe to assume, they preferred younger people in their questioning and avoided the more traditional looking concert going crowd…

    Nothing to see here. Only a lame attempt by the Thielemann haters to stir something up.

    • Erich says:

      More than slightly surprised by your comments about the Springer press being anti-Thielemann. The chief executive happens to be one of his closest friends!

      • Musiker says:

        You are right, at least a few years ago these two were quite close, even vacationing together. That’s one of the big mysteries of our times, what actually binds these two together… because ideologically they are thesis and antithesis… unless they both belong to something bigger, the synthesis. Interesting times…

    • EmmKay says:

      “Musiker”, the BPO is more than 50% what you call “expats”.

  • Musiker says:

    also something is clearly foul wight he numbers.
    “Zwei Drittel der Besucher haben vor dem jeweiligen Konzert abgestimmt. Mehr als die Hälfte gab sich als Abonnenten zu erkennen. Die Umfrage ist ein Stimmungsbild und nicht repräsentativ.”

    Translation: “two third of the visitors voted before each concert…” The survey was done on two concert evenings. the Berlin Philharmonie seats roughly 2.400 people. Both concerts were sold out.
    If two thirds of 4.800 people voted, we should have 3.200 votes.
    All published votes together are only 1.318…

    We are missing about 1.800 votes, if really two third voted.

    My guess is Springer press and rbb-PetraGute-SarahWillis omitted 1.800 votes for Thielemann and the actual numbers are:

    Christian Thielemann: 2.023 Stimmen

    Andris Nelsons: 448 Stimmen

    Gustavo Dudamel: 229 Stimmen

    Daniel Barenboim: 125 Stimmen

    Mariss Jansons: 116 Stimmen

    Riccardo Chailly: 56 Stimmen

    Riccardo Muti: 47 Stimmen

    Yannick Nézet-Séguin: 37 Stimmen

    Andere: 37 Stimmen


  • rambonito says:

    Who is Sarah Willis? I only know her from tv shows…

  • Una says:

    Never read such rubbish on a site by so many armchair experts with opinions! Let the best person get the job whom the orchestra will vote for, and let them make music. This public survey is just like betting on a horse. The only difference if you win, is you get some money!!

  • Angela says:

    People want to make you feel like you have a say (the public) but it’s about the relationship between the musicians and music director and the music director’s vision meshing with administration. The general public really doesn’t have a good enough grasp on orchestras to make an informed decision.