Guess who’s cashed in on Chung’s resignation?

Guess who’s cashed in on Chung’s resignation?


norman lebrecht

January 04, 2016


The most expensive conductor in America has flown into Seoul to take over three concerts left open by Myung Whun Chung’s departure as music director of the Seoul Philharmonic.

Seoul is desperate and Eschy’s ever willing to talk terms.



  • Alice Lim says:

    Eschenbach had prior concert engagements in China so he is not flying from the US. He is replacing only one concert which is to be held on the 9th Jan.

  • Alice Lim says:

    To add one more comment, your choice of the word “Ching-ching” is quite disturbing, as it is often used by ignorant racists to mock Asian people. Hope a gentleman like you are not one of them.

  • James says:

    You know, I don’t usually respond to such comments – and I’m sure you don’t know of Eschenbach’s early past, in which his father who was a very active activist against the Nazis was killed by them. But may I suggest that we’re all very careful with the Nazi references and in this particular case it is unfortunately in particularly poor taste.

    • Peter says:

      Hurting anyone over personal traumas of this kind is not my intention. The blog owner may delete my comment at his discretion. Even though this is the mother of all Nazi reference blogs…

  • V.Lind says:

    It rather sounds as if Mr. Eschenbach was a profile conductor in the area, which a quick scan of the agencies would identify. So it seems natural that he would be approached, rather than that he was “cashing in.” Perhaps you are questioning the assisting of an orchestra that seems in such turmoil. He may have been considering the audience, or even the orchestra members, with whom he would have a chance to talk.

    I have long noticed the animus against Christopher Eschenbach on this blog — it is probably greater than that I have detected against anyone else. I do not know enough about him to assess the real root of the hostility. But I see that while a comment deemed offensive to Asians (gone before I visited) has been removed, a comment made in acknowledged ignorance of some facts and deeply offensive to Mr. Eschenbach has been, despite the plea of the original poster, been left up.

    • May says:

      Perhaps I speak for myself, however perhaps a few my share my thoughts: while a orchestra must weigh several factors in replacing a conductor, above all, what the audience (who has already paid for tickets) is expecting, I do wish that orchestras would use an opportunity to promote a lesser-known conductor. I personally abhor Eschenbach, not only because of his infantile interpretations, but also because it is beyond despicable that he commands such a high fee. I know from a source that he once was paid 80k Euros for three concerts (same program repeated) with the NDR Sinfonieorchester in Hamburg.
      PS: My personal hatred towards Eschenbach is only exceeded by my hatred for a similarly overpaid and incompetent Mexican conductor whose name frequents this blog.

      • John says:

        Abhor? Hatred? Strong words, indeed!

      • Petros LInardos says:

        I am not defending Eschenbach, but how should one judge those who accept the fees he or his agents ask for? Can’t the orchestras just say no?

        • Max Grimm says:

          I guess orchestras can always say “no”. If I remember correctly, the big London based orchestras banded together and said no, when they felt that the fees Anne-Sophie Mutter demanded were too high.
          @ MAY, I am no fan of CE (far from it) but pointing out the €80.000 Eschenbach earned for three concerts is hardly something that sets him apart from other conductors and the fees they are paid (another favourite among frequently discussed classical music-scene topics). Jansons, Nelsons, Chailly, Rattle, Gergiev & Co. frequently get paid €30.000 per concert (meaning three concerts under their direction cost €10.000 more than Eschenbach’s bargain price of €80.000). If you want to point out a conductor who earned enough to make even Solomon blush, I’d go with the late Lorin Maazel. His going rate for most concerts was €50.000, for certain “Sonderkonzerte” he received between €100.000 and €120.000 per concert and his eventual salary at the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks was an annual €2.400.000.

      • Anthony says:

        Which Mexican conductor are you referring to, May?

    • V.Lind says:

      I see the remark has been removed. Thank you.

      I bow to the superior knowledge of others regarding this conductor, and am sympathetic to the view that appearing in the midst of Seoul’s little local difficulties is a vexed choice. However I have direct experience of another orchestra that went through serious turmoil a few years back and ended without a conductor on short notice. The scramble to replace him to complete his commitments was intense and all sorts turned up, but the administrators wanted to maintain their season without interruption. Both financial chaos and audience dissatisfaction would have ensued had they not. So this may have been a practical solution to a sudden crisis.

      • Nick says:

        That sort of panic is even greater when the orchestra is thousands of miles from the main music centres. Any major conductor who is in the region and interested will be quickly snapped up – however good or otherwise.

  • FreddyNYC says:

    Norman, you had used the phrase “ching ching” earlier before it was deleted after someone deemed it offensive. In what instance is this phrase ever used other than as a racial slur to mock Asians…..?

  • Itsjtime says:

    “Ka Ching” is a reference to a cash register that entered the American vernacular from the ” Wayne’s World” movie based on a skit from Saturday Night Live in the early 1992…look it up!

    I like to call out Norm for being stupid as much as the next guy…but this is completely ridiculous.

    Come on people, get your heads out of your asses and think about how important Max Reger was/is.

  • Peter says:

    Does the conducting profession know no collegial solidarity in the common interest of the whole guild? Why would one accept such an ethically incorrect assignment?
    Who is CE’s manager?

    • Brian from DC says:

      Peter, I don’t understand what is “ethically incorrect” about Eschenbach’s assignment in Seoul. The members of the orchestra want to play a concert; there is an audience that has paid to attend the concert; and CE was already in the neighborhood. Are you suggesting it would be more ethical to have the Seoul Philharmonic play Bruckner without a conductor?

  • R says:

    Great pianist, not so great conductor.