Just in: Now Berlin’s settled, Nelsons extends at Boston

Just in: Now Berlin’s settled, Nelsons extends at Boston


norman lebrecht

August 03, 2015

Andris Nelsons may have waited until the Berlin Philharmonic post was finally sorted out before agreeing, this weekend, to a three year extension to his Boston Symphony contract.

Press release below.

nelsons nobel

Boston, August 4, 2015: The Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons have reached an agreement to extend Mr. Nelsons’ contract as BSO Music Director through the 2021-22 season, following his extraordinary first year in that role, having received virtually unanimous praise and universal enthusiasm for his work with the orchestra from critics and audiences alike. Mr. Nelsons’ initial five-year contract with the BSO will be replaced with an eight-year contract, with an evergreen clause in place reflecting a mutual desire for a long-term commitment between the BSO and Mr. Nelsons well beyond the eight years of the new contract.


This news about Andris Nelsons’ contract extension with the BSO takes place just as Mr. Nelsons returns to Tanglewood to lead six programs, including a performance and webcast of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the BSO’s acclaimed summer music academy; Mr. Nelsons also embarks on his first tour with the BSO as its music director to Europe’s major summer music festivals and concert halls, August 22-September 5.

“I am so very honoured and incredibly excited by this new chapter in my musical life with the Boston Symphony Orchestra,” said BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons. “This is a significant opportunity for me and the orchestra to work together on deeper levels, artistically and musically. And it is particularly through this kind of closeness in our work together that we will be able to go much further in our growth, in the hope to realize inspirational performances and embrace new audiences with wonderful music. The fact I am so thrilled over furthering our future together is tied with our passionate commitment to our wonderful patrons, generous donors and supporters, dedicated staff and management team and of course our fantastic audiences. I so look forward to sharing the remarkable beauty of this orchestra with music fans in Boston, throughout the country, and around the globe, and we extend our warmest invitation for you to come and hear us soon.”


  • MacroV says:

    Well yes, the fact that he didn’t sign an extension even before he began his initial five-year contract last fall must surely mean he was holding out to see what would happen in Berlin.

    • William Delia says:

      No. If he wanted Berlin his management team would have pushed for it. The Boston post is among the most sought-after positions in the world, as is Berlin, Vienna, Leipzig, Chicago, Amsterdam… and a few others.

  • herrera says:

    Berlin is not the holy grail it never was.

  • Halldor says:

    Nelsons is a musician, not a politician – to an extent that those who don’t know him would find very hard to believe. More than almost any conductor of his stature that I can think of, all that he’s interested in is finding somewhere congenial to make music. Laugh at that if you like; but the games that are being played around his career are being played not by Nelsons in person, but by his agents and whichever orchestra (s) they’ve judged will earn them the fattest cut of his fee.

  • harold braun says:

    Boston,as most US orchestras,is better than this slightly overrated glamour Band,especially brass and woodwinds.

  • milka says:

    The love song every so called conductor keeps close to their heart whether they be in Berlin Boston, London ,Vienna , etc .

    “when not near the one I love, I love the one I’m near .”

    If Nelsons were not a political animal he wouldn’t be in Boston .

  • Ear To the Score says:

    Boston’s Symphony Hall is considered by many to be the finest concert hall in the world, and Nelsons has what it takes to raise the BSO to the finest orchestra in the world (which Ozawa certainly didn’t). Nelsons doesn’t need Berlin.

  • J. says:

    His goal is not Berlin, but Munich (Jansons stays until 2021).

    • William Delia says:

      Actually, this opinion makes some sense in that his wife Kristine Opolais has recently set her home base in Munich.

  • Daniel F. says:

    The acclaim for Nelsons’s work is far from “universal”. Pulitzer Prize winning music critic, Lloyd Schwartz, who is notable for his discerning ear, cliche-less pen, and integrity-proof absence of ties to managements, has been seriously underwhelmed. Critics at the Boston Globe, though generally favorable, have noted Nelsons’s propensity to exaggerate details for effect at the expense of the entirety of the form and to his lack of long-term vision for the orchestra and of a serious commitment to late 20th and early 21st century music. James Levine put the BSO in the best shape of its long life. It would be a nice gesture on Nelsons’s part at some point (before 2022) to invite Levine to guest-conduct and mend the crashed fences.

    • Petros LInardos says:

      I totally agree with you on Nelsons and would like to add that the hype around him in the Boston press and blogs had started before he had ever conducted the orchestra. They were evidently rooting for him on the basis of his profile.

      • Neven P. says:

        How do you explain then Berliners’ interest in him? Levine was (is) a great conductor, but he was never 100% committed to the BSO.

        • Daniel F. says:

          With his very physical approach to conducting and his good looks, Nelsons is MARKETABLE!! The bottom line in this business is…well, the bottom line. As for Levine’s commitment, you’re just parroting “received opinion”. When he was in Boston and working with the Orchestra, he was 100% committed. Anyone who attended even an open rehearsal would know that.

        • MacroV says:

          I have to think that Levine’s problems at the BSO were almost entirely related to his health. That’s ultimately why he left, no?

          • Daniel F. says:

            It’s pretty clear that BSO management thought Levine waited way too long to resign. In neither the subscription letter for the following season nor in the following season’s program book was there any acknowledgment of appreciation for his work with the Orchestra. He was effectively “air-brushed” from the picture. Some veteran subscribers found this deplorable, but most younger folk were glad to see him (and Carter and Schonberg and Harbison) go and couldn’t have cared less about the way management responded.

          • Neven P. says:

            Thank you for your thorough response, Daniel F. – this is the kind of valid argument I prefer. The only concern that I have with your “received opinion” comment is how can one be fully committed if he is in not good health (very ill, in fact) and is also handling another very demanding role at the MET. Also, please do not forget that Levine never signed the contract with the BSO, which gave the management a headache (there was an article in the papers about that).

          • Neven P. says:

            Daniel F. – what is your opinion of Haitink and why was he never offered a full-time post at the BSO? As you can remember, he was the interim music director in 2002-04, between Ozawa and Levine

          • Daniel F. says:

            NEVAN P: I thought highly of Haitink, who helped maintain morale and high standards while the BSO was looking for Ozawa’s successor and then, to a lesser extent, when it was looking for Levine’s successor. The Orchestra loves him because he doesn’t force things on them. He amiably tweaks and adjusts and knows, from so much experienc, just what the traffic will bear. A tad prosaic for my taste, but certainly preferable to a great many others. BH was already too old and too tied to European commitments to have been thought of for either of those openings.

          • Neven P says:

            Thank you. This is what I thought about Haitink, too. I never considered his age to be a factor, but you may well be right. His musicianship was always very solid – back in 2002-04, and in the closing concerts this year (with Pires). Regarding Levine, he never seemed healthy in the concerts I attended. There was a concert in 2003-04 when he conducted Beethoven’s 4th Symphony and it took him about five minutes to get to the podium. At that moment I wondered how was he going to pull the BSO and MET at the same time in this state. I am very sorry about the health problems that have been plaguing him.

  • Greg says:

    I think the jury is still out on Nelsons in Boston. He has made an initial splash with some flashy repertoire, dynamic podium presence, and youthfulness. But how long will this last? I think the results thus far are encouraging, but I remember a similar honeymoon period back in 1973. The orchestra seems responsive to him right now, but the BSO members will not suffer shallowness for very long. Only time will tell if this relationship will blossom into an artistically significant partnership. I certainly hope it does. Boston has been a rudderless ship for far too long.

    • Daniel F. says:

      It is unlikely that Nelsons will turn out to be as shallow and, eventually as intransigent, as Ozawa proved to be. He seems genuinely enthusiastic about his new role, which is hardly surprising given the quality of the Orchestra and the acoustics of Symphony Hall. He is also unlikely to make waves with management, as Levine did, over matters like artistic vision, rehearsal requirements, or a commitment to contemporary music. Prediction: a happy, seriously intended within limits, often viscerally exciting, but not very probing seven years.

    • Beacon Hill Listener says:

      The Ozawa/BSO honeymoon lasted only until Ozawa finally took it upon himself to learn some English…

  • Milka says:

    What most endures at the BSO is the handsomely paid artful management -Conductors come and go …conductors always find ways and means to love an orchestra , a city, while signing
    and extending a contract , it’s the way the game goes .If the Berlin nonsense be true , Nelsons has found the present BSO job to be a safer bet .Can’t be a bridesmaid forever.
    The 2015 BSO season shows nothing to be changed except the rearrangement of deck chairs , those that can recall, there was a time when the Boston Symphony was the
    pride and joy of the city and to get a Friday ticket without checking the obits was futile .
    Now it is just another entertainment group hustling for the buck , for most Bostonians
    it does not merit a mention in any passing” arts” conversation concerning the city .
    Whatever lip service the BSO now gets is a dutiful reminder to its great past .

    • Neven P says:

      I would respectfully disagree with you. I have attended most concerts this season (except those when prevented by snow) and found them very satisfying (especially those including Dutoit, Dohnanyi and Haitink as guest conductors). Sadly, most of the Brahmin old guard that used to attend Friday concerts passed away. I went to the Friday concert only once this year and never again. The audience was mostly in their 80s and 90s, in wheelchairs and with walkers. Extremely depressing. Bostonians don’t talk much about the BSO, it is correct what you say, but that’s just following the trend in general culture – most people don’t talk about classical music or arts any more. However, it is not that the orchestra is not trying to attract people – the entire city is placated with Nelson’s banners all the time, and they just announced casual Fridays (an idea that horrifies me) starting this season.

  • herrera says:

    Boston is the perfect training orchestra for Berlin.