Exclusive: Manfred Honeck says Esa-Pekka’s best for the New York Philharmonic

Exclusive: Manfred Honeck says Esa-Pekka’s best for the New York Philharmonic


norman lebrecht

January 26, 2016

In an interview today with Vesa Siren for the Helsingin Sanomat, the Pittsburgh music director practically takes himself out of the running for the New York Philharmonic vacancy.

He tells Vesa: ‘I think Esa-Pekka would be the right person also for this great orchestra.

‘My contract with Pittsburgh goes to 2020 so I feel an obligation to stay in Pittsburgh… I love the New York Philharmonic, definitely, and I am sure that they will pick out the right person in the future…. I have great things to do in Pittsburgh, which I don’t want to miss also.’


So that rules out New York’s next in line…. They are running out of names, and out of time.

manfred honeck

H/t: Vesa Siren.

Original interview here.


  • Misha K says:

    It’s not “exclusive” if someone else reported it first. Oy

  • Olassus says:


    He has twice the passion and versatility of EPS, who may well be a fit in New York but has nothing to say about Strauss, Brahms, Mozart, et al.

    • Peter says:

      and since NY Phil has no stylistic competence with that repertoire either, this actually makes EPS their perfect match.

      • Olassus says:

        The New York Philharmonic, founded in 1842, can play anything.

        • Peter says:

          Sure they can. But held against their alleged reputation it rarely makes sense. I heard many concerts with them, and was bottom line fascinated by this perectly oiled orchestra automaton. The most soulless, industrial sound, technically perfect, of the whole world.

  • Max Grimm says:

    Manfred Honeck “practically [took] himself out of the running” with similarly expressed sentiments last year, 2 or 3 weeks after Alan Gilbert announced his intention of relinquishing the NY Phil’s music directorship in 2017.

  • cherrera says:

    Salonen already took himself out of the running per the New York Times


    So that leaves Jaap van Zweden. Per the New York Times.

  • cherrera says:

    At this point in his career, Salonen needs to build his legacy, and being a composer will build that legacy more than any further conducting accomplishment.

    Bernstein’s and Boulez’s compositions will be played centuries after all their conducting recordings will have been out of print. Mahler left no recordings with the NY or Vienna philharmonics.

    Salonen is an award winning composer but he has yet to compose that definitive opus that defines him, his style, his legacy. (If you heard a new piece today, could you say, ah, that’s a Salonen?)

    The NY Phil at this point in its history is just a gigantic administrative headache (no home, fund-raising for the renovation, audience building with no concert hall), and Salonen doesn’t need that to distract him from composing.

    • Peter says:

      “Mahler left no recording…”

      Hah, good one. Neither did Richard Wagner with Staatskapelle Dresden. And what about Johann Sebastian Bach with the Leipzig Collegium Musicum? No recordings!!!
      Also there are no women on Mars, which is all the proof we need how misogynist that bloody planet is.

  • Peter says:

    Mr. Honeck is a terribly nice person to say he is sure they would pick the right person. But history teaches us – well those who can read it – that such choice is more the exception than the rule.

  • MacroV says:

    Susanna Malkki sounds like an interesting possibility.

    And I wish people (and especially the Philharmonic) would look at the two years of hall-less-ness not as a problem, but as an opportunity. It’s a great chance to try out unconventional venues, unusual types of programs, get out and around the city, and maybe do a couple big tours.

    • Brian says:

      Agree, Malkki would be an inspired choice for the Philharmonic. As would Pablo Heras-Casado.

      I just can’t see Zweden or Honeck lighting a big fire with your average New Yorkers.

      • Olassus says:

        I’m positive on Honeck, negative on Heras Casado (who oddly permits a hyphen in his Spanish name), and hear good things about Malkki and van Zweden.

        EPS would work, too, no doubt, assuming he’s not serious about composing in much volume.

        Maybe New York will get it right this time.

  • William Ford says:

    Honeck has worked miracles in Pittsburgh- just read the reviews of their recent Beethoven and Bruckner CD’s. He is in high demand as a conductor and has a hectic schedule. I interviewed him last April and he denied interest in the NY position even then. Pittsburgh is very fortunate to retain him.

  • Misha_K says:

    “They are running out of names, and out of time.”

    They are not “running out of time”. That is silly. They would do well to be patient and find the right person rather than feel pressured to find someone by the end of an artificial deadline. It is perfectly possible to work with a temporary caretaker (like Haitink in Chicago post-Barenboim and previously in Dresden post-Sinopoli) until the right candidate has been found/cjoled/bludgeoned into accepting the post.

  • musicologyman says:

    Jaap van Zweden is very good, but, as many reports from Dallas attest, to the orchestral musicians there he often acts or comes off as a nasty autocrat. I cannot imagine the NY Philharmonic putting up with such a personality in this day and age.

    I agree: Malkki would be a terrific choice.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Personal disposition and temperament are just one of those things in the classical music industry. I don’t know what the present climate is like but the New York Philharmonic had its own reputation of being a fractious and truculent bunch.

    • Bruce says:

      New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude and tactless, but they see themselves as honest and straightforward. They might experience van Zweden the same way. If each of them thinks highly of the other, the results could be remarkable.

  • Stuard Young says:

    I have read that Christoph Eschenbach will soon be available. Not sure the MY Phil can afford him.

  • Ross says:

    Why have both these musicians come out to the media to say they are not interested in this job, both in the last few days? IF they were spoken to, why not say this privately to the orchestra that is inquiring? Is it an ego thing?
    If they weren’t asked, then why make a public statement at all? Is it an ego thing?

    • Max Grimm says:

      I don’t think that it’s an ego thing. Their statements were part of longer interviews on a variety of topics or results of direct enquiries by journalists. They merely answered the questions they were asked about the New York Phil’s music directorship (probably wiser than declining to comment). After that, journalists rummaged through the materials and picked out bits they wanted to highlight.

  • Peter says:

    As history screamingly obvious tells, what conductor the majority of orchestra musicians prefer is NEVER correlated with artistic achievement and potential. The majority of them votes for the guy based on the highest result from the multiplication two main factors:
    X: how great will this man make me look like
    Y: how well do we have him under control, how much does he “owe” us if we choose him.

    That’s particularly relevant for orchestras like NYPhil which regularly overperform in vanity and self entitlement, and underperform in artistic achievement.