Just in: Mehta is replaced in Berlin for two concerts by Seiji Ozawa

Just in: Mehta is replaced in Berlin for two concerts by Seiji Ozawa


norman lebrecht

December 18, 2015

The Berlin Philharmonic have announced that Zubin Mehta cannot conduct them in April 2016 for reasons connected to his 80th birthday plans.

To replace him Berlin have recruited Seiji Ozawa, who has not conducted a full concert since falling sick with cancer of the oesophagus almost five years ago.

Welcome back, Seiji.

ozawa tokyo afp

press release:

Zubin Mehta has cancelled his concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker on 6 April 2016. Instead, Seiji Ozawa will now conduct two new concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie on 8 and 10 April 2016

The concert originally scheduled for 6 April 2016 conducted by Zubin Mehta (soloist: Daniel Barenboim) will unfortunately no longer take place as Zubin Mehta has changed his personal plans for his 80th birthday.

We are delighted that we have managed to engage Seiji Ozawa as a replacement to conduct two concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker on 8 and 10 April 2016.

Seiji Ozawa has had close ties with the Berliner Philharmoniker since 1966 and most recently conducted them in May 2009.

Changes to the concert programme are as follows:

Friday, 8 April 2016, 20:00 Philharmonie

Sunday, 10 April 2016, 20:00 Philharmonie

Berliner Philharmoniker

Seiji Ozawa Conductor

Rundfunkchor Berlin Choir

Peter Serkin Piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Serenade No. 10 in B flat major KV 361 (Gran Partita) without


Ludwig van Beethoven Egmont op. 84. Overture

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy in C minor op. 80 (Peter Serkin, piano /

Rundfunkchor Berlin)


  • Petros LInardos says:

    So that could be a late celebration of Ozawa’s own 80th birthday, which was on September 1, 2015!

  • V.Lind says:

    Did Mehta not know he was turning 80 when he accepted this gig?

    They were lucky to get Seiji.

  • PaulD says:

    I’m getting old. I remember when Mehta conducted the Mahler 8th in Los Angeles, to celebrate his 40th birthday.

  • Paul says:

    And why did Barenboim cancel too??

    • Dave T says:

      He got spooked thinking about turning 80.

      • Max Grimm says:

        That, coupled with the fact that his soulmate cancelled (“[Barenboim] once declared that Zubin Mehta is probably his only soulmate”, according to the program details posted on the Berlin Phil website), may have lead to a loss of all motivation to go ahead with the concert.

  • Daniel F. says:

    What Ozawa is conducting in Berlin does not constitute “a full concert”, but let’s hope he can hold up for a total of about 30 minutes of music.

    • Max Grimm says:

      I hope so as well. While he appeared somewhat frail at moments, he held up fine last year, conducting Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges & Shéhérazade with the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra (~ 1h to 1h 10mins total playing time).

  • Eric Koenig says:

    Glad to hear Maestro Ozawa will be there. Go Team Seiji!

  • Anon says:

    Ozawa jumping in for Mehta, now THAT’S worth a headline. The stereotypical “man bites dog” event.

  • Linda v. says:

    What a lovely and amazing man – always thinking of others first and helping them, with no thought for himself. Seiji is the person we should all aim to be – not to draw attention to himself, but to do the right thing without looking for credit. It was a pleasure to know him briefly, and always a joy when there is more good Seiji news!

  • Dave says:

    No one under 80 was available??

    • Max Grimm says:

      I am told that Gergiev was briefly considered but quickly skipped, based on his affiliation with certain politicians, Thielemann will be tied up with important meetings regarding the Pegida demonstrators infront of the Semperoper and the Dorny-Affair, Nelsons is scheduled to undergo surgery around that time, to split his body into two halves, enabling him to conduct concerts with the BSO and the Gewandhausorchester simultaneously, Kirill Petrenko is playing hard to get, Mariss Jansons will be preparing for Carnegie Hall with the BRSO, Simon Rattle will be scouting concert hall locations in London and Barenboim said he didn’t feel like playing the piano and conducting as well. There was a brief toss-up between Alsop, Tilson Thomas and de la Parra but, unable to secure a simple majority for either conductor, the orchestra settled for Seiji Ozawa as a compromise-candidate.