Berlin Philharmonic: No result

Berlin Philharmonic: No result


norman lebrecht

May 11, 2015

The 123 players have spent all day closeted in a church in Dahlem, the longest election debate anyone can remember for a chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. A mid-afternoon rumour, based on a tweet – apparently from horn player Sarah Willis and circulated by two UK magazines – called it for Andris Nelsons. The tweet was swiftly deleted.

Shortly after 8pm, the players gave up for the night. An official tweet went out: @BerlinPhil: No result following today’s election for new chief conductor of @BerlinPhil. More details soon.


berlin philharmonie

I shall go on the BBC’s The World Tonight at 10.15pm to explain why the Berlin Philharmonic failed to agree over 10 hours over the choice of a chief conductor.


  • Stick from heaven says:

    What a bunch of self-conscious, pompous Masters of the Universe…
    Then some of us still wonder why RCO or the Bavarians get all accolades these days.
    I guess Berlin wants a politician. They’d better not have a conductor and instead try to get their act together.
    Furtwangler and Karajan must be throwing temper tantrums in their graves right now.

    • will says:

      as well as the beatific Claudio Abbado of course…!

    • Jim says:

      What’s it to you how long they take to decide? Are they supposed to rush their vote to please you? How is it in any way your business? Nobody would get mad over a board of directors taking a long time to deliberate, as would happen in most other orchestras.

  • Michael Schaffer says:

    “I shall go on the BBC’s The World Tonight at 10.15pm to explain why the Berlin Philharmonic failed to agree over 10 hours over the choice of a chief conductor.”

    But how, Norm? You don’t know why that is.

  • Brian says:

    I haven’t seen any evidence that the Sarah Willis tweet was real. The screen-capture of the tweet did not include a time-stamp or any indication that the tweet was made today (vs., say, last year at the end of a great concert). Moreover the screen-capture looked very heavily manipulated.

    • Sanchia Norman says:

      I’ve known Sarah well for over 30 years and can tell you that that tweet certainly won’t have come from her. She is one of the most professional people I know and has far too much personal integrity to have compromised herself or her colleagues like this.

      I also know however that she’ll have been mortified about being hacked – what a pathetic, cruel thing to have done to someone. And for what possible gain?

  • Arabella says:

    I think this whole process is fabulous. Puts classical music center stage on social media and sets a great precedent for other orchestras: democracy and the importance of the musicians’ opinions in choosing a new music director.

    • Franny says:

      Who are you to say that?? What gives you the right to make this offensive and ignorant statement?

      -An orchestral musician

    • Conor says:

      That is very insulting to orchestral musicians, and also very nonsensical. Completely agree with Arabella that it MUST be the musicians who make this decision. That is, if one wants a conductor for musical reasons.

  • CDH says:

    Well, after all the papal analogies, you can tell them that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Thielemann must be gagging at all this democracy in action (inaction?).

    • Arthur Lindgren says:

      If I were a candidate I would withdraw my application now. This is not politics. Who wants to be a compromise choice in the field of music? The whole idea is absurd.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        You aren’t a candidate, and there are no applications to withdraw anyway. The idea that someone who is a serious candidate should be offended because it takes the orchestra members a while to come to a decision, because they don’t just walk in the door, elect someone and then walk out again after a few minutes is really childish.

        • Arthur Lindgren says:

          Well let me be childish then, as a well-known pianist once said.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Of course Arthur, you can be as childish as you want, and it doesn’t matter in this context here since you are not a candidate anyway. But this discussion isn’t about you.

        • John Borstlap says:

          But anyone taking-on the position will find an orchestra with a lot of inner troubles. Good for Mahler but probably less so for Mozart.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Anonymous slandering on the internet – your idea of “democracy”, Mr “CDH”?

  • Tommy says:

    A wait for one year!

  • May says:

    I for one am quite glad that there was no clear choice. Had they elected Andris with no dissent I would have been seriously disappointed. While Andris is by no means schlecht, when you compare him with his predecessors he simply doesn’t measure up.

  • Andrey says:

    Berlin Philharmonic doesn’t need in our time any MD. Look at Vienna. Time of monogamy are over. Such “bride ” can have many “grooms”. We can call it matriarchy! 🙂

    • Tristan says:

      It speaks for itself – there is none who will get the majority so I think they should go the Viennese way and remain without a chief conductor. They do not play opera daily like the Vienna orchestra so there should be enough rehearsal time for any great conductor they invite. Thielemann honestly is the best for the romantic german repertoire especially Bruckner but also his Brahms and Strauss is fabulous. He hardly conducted Mahler and music of the 20th century. His Beethoven? One must like his heavy view on that. BTW neither his Rosenkavalier nor his Beethoven can match Kleiber but none among nowadays Maestri comes close to Kleiber – maybe Petrenko who is for sure the most exciting nowadays but it comes most probably too early like all the others who were announced like Nelsons. I thought they choose an intermezzo and could convince Jansons or Chailly until the youngsters are ready for the job. Good luck

  • Ivor Morgan says:

    That is clearly a fake by Sarah Willis

  • DESR says:

    Does this mean pro- and anti-Thielemann groups are each refusing to give way?

    Could the orchestra undergo a schism like the church?

    Thielemann gets the big band and someone else a smaller renegade early and modern music offshoot?

  • Stick from Heaven says:

    I am sorry. This is not a Board of Directors making decisions on the spot.

    They all had 2 years to play out the process.

    I just think that whoever is chosen will lack a mandate to do anything. Then musicianship gets shallow and nobody knoes why…

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      As long as the music making doesn’t get as shallow as your remarks here, Mr Stick, everything will be alright.

  • CDH says:

    Would someone upload Norman’s appearance on The World Tonight on YouTube?

  • M2N2K says:

    In this case, postponing the decision is much better than making a hasty “compromise”.

  • Stick from Heaven says:

    And they all had 2 years to play out the process.
    The BPO that emerges from this will end up taking up the title as the one and only the “wartime BPO”.

  • ILB15 says:

    No decision surely means no immediately ‘obvious’ successor. Factor in the vacancy at Amsterdam RCO – might Andris Nelsons have gone there had he not accepted Boston before Mariss Jansons decided to step down?

  • Arabella says:

    Boy that was great, Norman! You got the “no results news: out even before Berlin did! That’s why we read Slipped Disc!

    I would like to hear more about the Fake Sarah Willis tweet. Any more speculation? Has she commented on this?

    • Sanchia Norman says:

      Hi Arabella. Yes, there have been several online statements now about this being a fake, including on Sarah’s Twitter account.

      I wrote a post earlier on today further up this thread which hasn’t yet been published, so in case it isn’t, here is the general gist again. I’ve known Sarah well for over 30 years and can tell you categorically that this tweet would never have come from her. She is highly professional and has far too much personal integrity to have compromised either herself or her colleagues like this.

      Whoever hacked her account must be a thoroughly pathetic individual with far too much time on their hands!

  • radawoued says:

    When have you been on the BBC news at 10pm, Norman?! I didn’t see you…

    • pooroperaman says:

      He means the radio news. You won’t find him on BBC1 – as if they’d even be interested!

      • Anonne says:

        He comes on at 26:30. Talks about “candidates” and “withdrawals.”

        Must have a spy in the room, by the sound of his assertive statements. Also, he says re Dudamel and others, that they sensed that there was something “not terribly right” going on with the Orchestra. I have not read that elsewhere, but perhaps he called them when they “withdrew” their “candidacies” and asked them why, and was saving his “news” for now.

  • Nessun Dorma says:

    GO PAAVO!!!!!! he is conducting this week. He is going to get it!!!!

  • Nessun Dorma says:

    Paavo power!!! Are you a believer??

  • Jim says:

    How about clearing up that the tweet was a fake photo shop job, and a pretty terrible one at that?