Not another cash prize for Eschenbach…

Not another cash prize for Eschenbach…


norman lebrecht

September 10, 2015

He’s the highest paid conductor in America and has no room left above the fireplace for any more awards.

Not that this has stopped the Brahms-Gesellschaft of Schleswig-Holstein from loading him today with their 10,000-Euro Brahms prize.

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.



  • Tristan says:

    but he is such a boring conductor like most pianists…just think of his Mozart in Vienna and Salzburg or Parsifal in Bayreuth….both festivals kindly termiated his contracts…..

  • Dominique says:

    Sometimes it is not the artist who wants the prize, but rather the XY-Society who want to put a known name on their list of recipients.

  • Stuard Young says:

    Not always boring. While MD of Philadelphia, there were some notable achievements. Eschenbach began his traversal of his cycle of Mahler symphonies with a beautiful performance of Symphony 3, following it with a postlude recital of Schumann songs, accompanying Lorraine Hunt Lieberson at the piano. A truly memorable experience. Unfortunately, the remainder of the cycle ranged from excellent (Symphony 8), through very good (Symphony 6), to having no idea what the piece was about (Symphony 9). There were other high points, he not only brought a long-overdue performance of the Lyric Symphony of Zemlinsky, but seemed born to conduct it. Several other fine performances were captured by Ondine, and released on SACD: Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, prefaced by Martinu’s devastating Memorial to Lidice; the Barber, Poulenc and Saint-Saens organ concerto disc, and the Tchaikovsky Pathetique disc. Unfortunately not recorded were a blistering Shostakovich Violin Concerto 1 with Vadim Repin, violin Concerto 2 with Gidon Kremer, and the most flowing, gorgeous Bruckner Symphony 6 I ever expect to hear. It was all smiles on all faces that night while they were playing, maybe because Eschenbach for omelet the musicians play without fussing and getting in their way? Overall, five years was enough. I’m still having difficulty understanding why the National SO would pay that much for a conductor with E’s track record. The Philadelphia has, for less, formed a bond with an extraordinary musician, a conductor who has already performed at the highest level, but has the potential to reinvigorate the city/orchestra coupling.

  • Jim says:

    This sort of award, especially of such a modest sum, of €10,000, is quite frankly total decadence and rather disgusting, when handed to wealthy musicians. The fact that on top of this it is given to a conductor as uninteresting and at best, bizarre, makes this all the more revolting. The fact that Eschenbach, certainly in no need of money, actually takes the paltry €10,000 and doesn’t immediately offer it to a charity, or a struggling ensemble or talented young musician, only confirms what I have read and heard about this man, namely that he is a greedy, money obsessed person who puts in one lackluster performance after another and is repeatedly sent packing or gets scathing criticism from nearly every major orchestra and festival he lead, e.g. Zürich Tonhalle, Bayreuth, Salzburg (Mozart operas), The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the National Symphony Orchestra…a real disaster, yet he demands, together with his greedy manager the highest conductor’s fees on the planet. How can people ask why the classical music business is not about talent and all about greed and inflated egos. Shame on Eschenbach, once again!

  • Doug says:

    Here’s a suggestion sure to shame such a craven figure as Eschenbach; let’s all write to the Brahms Gesellschaft and demand that he turn over his cash prize….to the migrants.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Eschy caschyes in!

  • John says:

    I guess that if someone dropped 10,000 Euros in my lap, and I took them, I don’t think that would mark me as vain. Maybe I am vain, but not because someone gave me 10,000 euros.

    • Derek Castle says:

      Where does the Brahms Gesellschaft get €10,000 to splash around? And how often do they do it? Just saying – I’m up for it! (Do I particularly have to be interested in Brahms?)

  • ruben greenberg says:

    A couple of years ago, the “beggar composer”, Gordon Sherwood, died, whom I had the honour to know and whose music I often played. I wrote about him on Slipped Disc. He could have done with a prize like this, modest though it may be. The only people that championed his music were almost as poor as he was. I tried to get a little bit of assistance for him from wealthy patrons of the art, but they were more interested in “stars” like Eschenbach. I’m sure there are still plenty of other Gordon Sherwoods out there, starving and living in fleabag hotels. If Eschenbach has any decency, I hope he will turn his prize money over to one of them.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Please remind us, who are what was it again that appointed you to the position to dictate to others what they should do with their money, and to judge who is a decent person and who isn’t?

    • Andrew says:

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say that somebody “has” to turn over their prize money to someone who could actually have more use for it, but you’re right; it would be nice if some of that money could be delegated to struggling composers and performers, rather than to already-big names who do not need anymore padding on their resume.

  • Una says:

    Good luck to the man and let him get on with his the reward. Who are we to say he’s boring, hie’s this, he’s that, and judge him in such a manner, and then think those that have awared the prize are useless or have no decent judgement? And we don’t know what he does with his money, all though some of you sound as if you know him very well personally. I’ve only worked with him once in London. All I know is that the more money you have, the more it gives you an opportunity to be generous – not always making a big noise about it in public. He’s hardly on a par with British footballers’ pay!

  • Minutewaltz says:

    I think he is a brilliant and inspiring conductor. He is also responsible for giving wonderful Lang Lang his first big break.

    • Jim says:

      You may think that he is “inspiring”, but unfortunately so very very many, far too many, orchestra musicians and audiences are bored to death and repulsed by his pretentiousness, mannered and idiosyncratic silly eccentricity, egocentrism, narcissism and insatiable greed. In 2015, Eschenbach is way past his sell-by date and it shows. He should withdraw with dignity and grace and not continue to disappoint and extort money from the limited funds available to classical music nowadays and keep giving irritating and uninspiring concerts. Enough, please!

    • Derek Castle says:

      Please tell me you’re joking !

  • Brian from washington says:

    So just a couple of days after Slippedisc calls Christoph Eschenbach and the Vienna Philharmonic “good guys” for forfeiting all their fees and doing a benefit concert for refugees, Eschenbach is on the Slippedisc shitlist again because he has been awarded another music prize. The bile and tasteless comments that Eschenbach’s successes draw forth in this blog are comical. According to the press, Eschenbach used the 250,000 euro from the Siemens Prize he was awarded earlier this year for a fund to support young musincians. What’s wrong with that?

    • Arthur Ronnfeldt says:

      You say, “According to the press, Eschenbach used the 250,000 euro from the Siemens Prize he was awarded earlier this year for a fund to support young musicians.” I am very interested in how cultural prize money is used and I have neither heard nor found anything confirming what you say Eschenbach did with his prize money. Would you please post the link to the press statement here, reporting that Eschenbach indeed fulfilled what he said was his “intent” to make some of his prize money available for helping young musicians. That means absolutely nothing. Intent is one thing, actually doing it is another and as I too have heard that Eschenbach is a very greedy and miserly man, I would like to know whether his “intent” was actually translated into action. Before you report, as you did, that Eschenbach “used” the money for a fund, you would be wise to confirm that, as I’m sure if Eschenbach actually created a fund for helping young musicians, it would be public knowledge, as it would be exempt from tax, etc., thereby being announced and registered, as it needs to be. I therefore seriously doubt whether this was ever done, both due to his terrible reputation and the fact that nothing was ever written in the press confirming this fund, as you erroneously report.

  • Brian from washington says:

    If you are determined to believe the worst of someone, facts won’t make a difference. But for the sake of those who may be a bit more fair-minded on the issue, here is the link.önnte-mir-nichts-schöneres-wünschen/a-18225257. And no, I cannot prove to you that Maestro Eschenbach has actually done what he said. To me, it is beneath contempt to assume he didn’t. Where I come from, you are innocent until proven guilty.

  • Andrew says:

    And this is the reason the advancement of music stagnates in every age; the people who control the cashbox want to maintain the status quo, keep the big names big and the hell with the up-and-coming. This has nothing to do with Eschenbach’s talent level – they couldn’t care less about that – but about selling a product by loading it up with prizes and credentials.

  • Milka says:

    What a group of rabble rousers , the man wins prize money and every malcontent
    decides how he should spend the money as if it was from their pockets . He is labeled
    untalented ,greedy ,miserly,etc . etc . yet for some reason always finds employment,
    an accomplishment his untalented critics must find galling to their own virtuous lives.
    Seems much like a fox entering the chicken coup to a chorus of cacophonous noise.
    One hopes he wins more prizes just to stir up the righteous.