In the Andris Nelsons tug-of-war, the agent comes out topsmain
Put another way: everyone else loses.
The Boston Symphony gives up a slice of its music director.
The Leipzig Gewandhaus loses creative independence as it is obliged to coordinate its programmes with Boston.
Andris Nelsons, never the most robust of conductors, becomes a shuttlecock between competing interests.
The only winner is KDSchmid Management of Hanover, London and Berlin, who have shrewdly placed their greatest asset in two positions that give the agents pivotal influence. This is, in many ways, an unprecedented deal in which both orchestras have to work through the agency to get the most out of Nelsons.
The difference between this and other job sharing schemes – such as Muti in Philadelphia and La Scala, Welser-Möst in Cleveland and Vienna, Barenboim in Berlin and La Scala – is that in each of these cases the maestro was strong in body and mind, absolutely clear-sighted about his priorities and requirements, able to walk away if he wished. In this case, the maestro is a prisoner of two strong-minded orchestra managers and his own agency.
As for the orchestras, they have lost more than they yet know. The German commentator Manuel Brug puts it very well when he points out today that both Boston and Leipzig have blindly surrendered their USP.