Breaking: Chailly quits Leipzig early

Breaking: Chailly quits Leipzig early


norman lebrecht

September 03, 2015

Riccardo Chailly is fining two jobs at La Scala and Lucerne as much as he can handle. So he has asked the city of Leipzig to let him go next summer, a couple of years ahead of schedule. Diplomatic press release follows.

chailly hand

The End of an Era

Riccardo Chailly, the Gewandhauskapellmeister for the past ten years, will end his work with the orchestra in the 2015/2016 season. He will direct his last concerts as the Gewandhauskapellmeister in mid June 2016.

In recognition of the exceptional accomplishments of Riccardo Chailly in furthering the artistic and international reputation of the Gewandhausorchester, Leipzig’s Mayo Burkhard Jung has conceded to the wish of the Gewandhauskapellmeister to end his obligation to the orchestra in June 2016.

Burkhard Jung, Mayor of the City of Leipzig: “The enormous international appeal Riccardo Chailly has developed with the Gewandhausorchester is precious and priceless for the city of Leipzig. I thank Riccardo Chailly for his musical passion he harnessed to lift the orchestra to astounding heights of artistic accomplishment, which has made him an exceptional ambassador for the city of Leipzig.”

During his era, Riccardo Chailly devoted himself to the core repertoire of the Gewandhausorchester and brought the orchestra to new interpretations garnering world-wide attention. In this context he gave the symphonies of Gustav Mahler a special place again in the repertoire of the Gewandhausorchester. Above all, his meticulous study of the sources brought forth interesting new discoveries even with seemingly well-known compositions. Above and beyond this, he led premiere performances of important commissioned compositions for the Gewandhausorchester.

The symphony cycles of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, and Mahler as well as the three great oratorios of Johann Sebastian Bach were performed in Germany and abroad and met with great success; these were also released as CD and DVD editions which captured numerous international prizes.

“Riccardo Chailly is always primarily concerned with paying tribute to the thoughts and feelings of the composer and thereby making these accessible for us today. We treasure his exemplary seriousness in the formulation, in the precision of the shape and form, and in his unmistakable intuition for the deeper relationships in the music,” as Tobias Haupt, Chair of the Orchestra Board, states.

During Chailly’s tenure, cooperative ventures in guest performances were founded with the Vienna Musikverein, the Barbican Centre London, and the Cité de la musique Paris (Philharmonie or Salle Pleyel); these performances present music cycles comprising several days of concerts in these three cities.

Gewandhausdirektor Professor Andreas Schulz: “Last but not least, we are indebted to the ten year era of the Gewandhauskapellmeister Riccardo Chailly for confirming andsolidifying the Gewandhausorchester’s top ranking among the world-class orchestras, for impressively expanding the orchestra’s international reputation, and for regaining the orchestra’s reputation as an ensemble for world premiere performances. I am very thankful for these ten years of intensive artistic cooperation.”


  • J. says:

    Wow. Sad, unexpected news. With Chailly the Gewandhaus is as good as BPO and BRSO.

  • Olassus says:

    Why did he take on Luzern? Money, I suppose. His contracted term in Leipzig should have come first.

    Loses brownie points for this.

  • Jon says:

    Sad news! I enjoy Chailly’s recordings with Leipzig very much: he developed very interesting ideas in a very traditional repertoire.

    Looking forward to what La Scala and Lucerne will produce.

    • Olassus says:

      The Brahms is stupendous. Best cycle in 20 years. His Mendelssohn is also ideal. And everything beautifully recorded.

      Re. Milan, I’ve heard absolutely nothing so far about the Turandot in May that initiated his opera tenure. That’s strange. It should have made bigger waves.

        • Olassus says:

          Thanks, Petros. Actually I can’t stand Turandot. My puzzlement has to do with the lack of commentary in the opera world generally about this production and the maestro’s debut in his new post. Few English reviews, for some reason, cf. what is typical for Salzburg, Munich, etc.

          Still, I watched the ending. It’s the Berio completion! Quite effective, I think; heard it once before, years ago. Stemme held up. Antonenko took some boos. Agresta was a big hit. And the production team was cheered — just as well, because it turned out to be Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s goodbye.

          • Jan de Jong says:

            Thanks for the link. This was the stage world premiere of Berio’s completion (conducted by Chailly and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) made for Dutch National Opera and taken over by La Scala. A great production.

  • Andrew Fung says:

    Mahler Symphonies Nos.2,4,5,6,7,8,9 were released on DVD/BD. Anyone know if the remaining symphonies have been recorded yet?

  • Eugenio M. says:

    His Mahler cycle is the best I have ever heard.

  • Yi Peng Li says:

    This news is a bit too sudden for me after the upheavals of the past year. I have enjoyed Chailly’s recent Austro-German symphonic recordings and I felt that his partnership with Leipzig had only just begun. I know he will have opera commitments at La Scala, but can he still conduct general-purpose orchestral music in between them? Past La Scala music directors like Abbado have toggled between La Scala operas and orchestral music in live settings and on recordings, so why not Chailly? In any case, I hope he will continue to guest-conduct Leipzig and other orchestras – and even record more orchestral music. I’ve been hoping that he and Leipzig would do the Mendelssohn symphony cycle and complete their survey of the comparatively lighter German Romantic symphonies. At least I’m hearing that Chailly might serve on as Conductor Laureate like what Sir Andrew Davis has done with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

  • Rob says:

    I am surprised at Chailly’s stepping down from the Leipzig post. The Leipzig orchestra was a fine band before he came, but under him it is now the equal of any orchestra including the Berlin Phiharmonic. I wish he had including more new music with them! A Petrassi Concerto for Orchestra would have been most revealing. At the Concertgebouw he was much more innovative. But despite this I have always thought Chailly a conductor with good taste! But now that estimation has receded. Whatever prompted him to include, in a series of concerts, a sublime work by Mozart sandwiched between two Richard Strauss tone poems? To programme the inflated banalities of Ein Heldeleben after the elegance and beauty of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto does no favours to either Mozart or the audience.