Kirill Petrenko joins Danish outcry

Kirill Petrenko joins Danish outcry


norman lebrecht

January 10, 2016

The famously shy incoming music director of the Berlin Philharmonic has published a letter to the Danish authorities expressing his concern at plans ‘to permanently decimate the orchestra’ of the royal opera.

He adds: ‘It seems to be the beginning of the deconstruction of an orchestra with an enormous tradition and artistic experience.’

No reply from Schloss Borgen.

petrnko letterkirill petrenko conducting2


  • John Borstlap says:

    Small countries’ problem, where authorities are provincial and undercultured, as in Holland.

    • Liz says:

      Yes it has surprisingly a lot in common with Holland, although the Danish think they are more civilised. Danish civic values …. not really what you thought they would be.

  • TiLL E. says:

    The mentality of the Danes – as far as I can tell from more than two decades of occasional professional work there – can be quite counterintuitive to understand for foreigners. The “shaming” attempt, telling them they would look like primitive peasants if they executed the plan as announced, does not bother the Danish mentality much. They are a country of farmers, fishers and traders mostly, and the cultural varnish – mostly concentrated in the capital – is thin. While they have a high cultural participation of a strong middle class in the few bigger cities with a culturally vibrant scene and good infrastructure, particularly the political “elite” is more of the non-intellectual type.

    They do not like foreigners giving them advice, even if those are 200% correct. They much rather lose, but under the leadership and decision making of one of their own, its a stubbornness deeply ingrained in the mentality of a proud but small nation.
    They just terminated a professional orchestra, the chamber orchestra of their public broadcaster. There were protests, but it was all very “civilized” and the lambs did not cry on their way to the guillotine. A similar caesura would in Germany have been met with substantially more resistance and fighting.
    But they do not like conflict, I have never met people, who are more evasive of open conflict, the corporate culture is very different than elsewhere, major decisions have to be agreed on mutually, everybody has his say, hierarchy exists on paper, but everybody feels equally important, bosses behave like buddies. The power of the bosses there is in their skill to put a solution on the table and prepare people for it, so that everybody is “onboard” before any discussion even began. Those who disagree, agree, possibly after some more talking, and talking, and talking… in the end, because all hold the integrity and security of the group higher than their own interests.

    I have been introduced by colleagues at the opera there to a social peculiarity, called the “law of Jante”.
    Supposedly Jante is a small town in rural Denmark, and the people there have a list of 10 commandments. Rule #1 goes something like “Do not think at any time, that you are anything better than us”. And all the other rules are a variation of that. You can observe that by the standardized understatement of the high earners. It’s the paradise of mediocrity. So maybe the concept of an elite symphony orchestra with a proud tradition does not mean as much as it should to them.
    But hopefully the orchestra will be saved for now. By the urge of all sides to avoid too much conflict and open disagreement, creating too much discomfort. That would possibly deter the politicians from cutting the budget.