New Paris music director: I made my mistakes

In an interview published today in the London Times, Daniel Harding (whom we announced yesterday as the next music director of the Orchestre de Paris), admits that it has not all been plain sailing.

Harding, 39, tells Richard Morrison: ‘I first conducted the Orchestre de Paris 20 years ago, and it was one of the three or four worst experiences of my career. They are well aware of that too, but we are very different now. I went back recently and found an ensemble that gives a lie to the cliché about what French orchestras are like….

‘One of its players’ greatest strengths is an awareness of what they could become, and a desire to do it. When I rehearsed them last year I found that every time I pushed harder they wanted more. I was just a guest conductor. I had no inkling then that they were looking for a music director, but people who come to you and say ‘we love that you are making demands’ are the sort of musicians I want to work with.’

Harding’s appointment will be officially announced today. Full interview here (firewall).

daniel harding

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  • The first (free) sentence: “Daniel Harding, 39, is following Barenboim, Solti and Karajan as the new music director of the Orchestre de Paris.”

    This ignores all of the Paris music directors of the last 26 years: Bychkov, Dohnányi, Eschenbach and Järvi.

    For more such insight, we are expected to pay.

    No thanks! I’ll get my news elsewhere, from better-informed bloggers. These paywall sites really do not understand the age we live in.

    • >>I’ll get my news elsewhere

      You do right, Olassus. The Times is becoming very lazy in the style of its arts coverage.

  • Wish Daniel Harding the best in Paris. It is a good spot for him for personal reasons and also because with the new Philharmonie it is the spot to be. Orchestra has intrinsic quality and a fine artistic budget but Paris is never easy.
    But it will be of course very different from Stockholm where I think Harding has flourished as a musician and artist. Those who have not seen Harding with the Swedish Radio Orchestra, have not had the opportunity to seize the real value of this conductor.

  • So he’ll be 41 when he opens the 2016 season, about the age when Gilbert took over the NY Philharmonic. And at 49, Gilbert will leave the NY Philharmonic. So there is this whole generation of conductors in their 50s, who are technically superbe and musically solid, but who has become too old for the new digital age of classical music, who are just being overtaken by a whole new generation of conductors in their 30s and 40s for these major posts. In the next 5 years, what will the few top orchestras that still have maestros in their 50s, 60s and 70s do? Will Berlin go for experience over exuberance?

    • I don’t really understand the growing expectation for music directors to necessarily ‘get’ the digital world. The top orchestras probably do need to build out digital platforms to increase reach, improve brand etc. (I work in tech start-ups, so I do see the value).. but ultimately these platforms deliver the content.. that content still needs to be made! So perhaps hire a tech guy to build out the digital stuff, but when it comes to the music, give me a Haitink or Muti above most if not all of the new generation, any day.

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