Maestro falls sick. Orchestra says: we want the assistant

Maestro falls sick. Orchestra says: we want the assistant


norman lebrecht

January 27, 2016

Good vibes coming in from the philharmonic orchestra of Radio France.

Mikko Franck, their music director, has come down with flu.

There’s an all-star cast lined up for Saturday’s concert performance of Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt – take a look here.

Orchestra and cast were offered a replacement conductor, called in at short notice. They replied: we want Marzena.

Marzena Diakun, 34, from Wroclaw, Poland, has been Mikko’s assistant conductor for just four months. She’s quickly making an impression as more than an assistant. This is the second time she’s replacing Mikko.


marzena diakun

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  • debussyste says:

    She is talented and pretty ! That’s a change from the old white male we are usually accustomed . Let’s women bring some fresh air in the male chauvinist world of classical conductors.

    • Elmira Darvarova says:

      In you opinion she is “talented and pretty”. Does the “pretty” matter when one’s profession is to conduct orchestras? If she was considered less than “pretty”, would that make her less qualified professionally? Why should even in the 21st Century an observation about a woman’s looks be part of how she is regarded professionally??

      • Prewartreasurw says:

        I have a feeling, dear Elmira, that you are female – right?

        A tad envious, are we, that it’s the good-lookers who receive the compliments?

        • Elmira Darvarova says:

          For your information, PREWARTREASURW, I am quite good-looking myself (check out my website), and you are completely missing the point of my comment… Like I already said, it’s despicable that even in the 21st Century women’s looks are being discussed as part of their profile as professional musicians, and when one of us (me, in this case) points out how terrible that is, the likes of you promptly accuse me of being jealous of others’ looks… The likes of you need serious updates in education

          • Respect says:

            It’s regretful you had to even answer this, and how you look was even brought into discussion.
            mr. Archimbault, Ms. Darvarova would hardly need to envious, she has the kind of career most would envy. Marvelous violinist, longtime co-concertmaster at the Metropolitan Opera in its greatest orchestral days.

            Perhaps before leaping to insult her, one should Google.

        • Emil Archambault says:

          What a patronising, mean comment.

          And of course, you do not engage at all with the point made. Praising women for being “pretty”, as if that was a quality that would help them be better conductors, is exactly the problem. Think of it: if you introduced Dudamel as “He’s talented and has nice hair”, it would sound quite weird, right?

  • Halldor says:

    *braces for uninformed trolling from the misogynists, youth-haters, embittered mid-career failures, etc*

  • Double standards says:

    So…if the assistant takes over in Paris, it’s good and if the assistant takes over in Seoul, the orchestra is doomed? Heavy personal sentiment into “reporting” much?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Only a fool would draw that conclusion. The circumstances are in no way comparable.

      • Anon says:

        How are they not comparable? Please elaborate, Lebrecht. Back up your words.

        • Mathieu says:

          I guesss there is a difference between a conductor being sick and a conductor being driven out the country by a political campaign of harassment and defamation.

          I don’t always agree with Norman, buthe is obviously right in this case.

          • Anon says:

            Well, he disparaged the assistant in Seoul because of the negative situation, and praised the assistant here because there was no controversy, just sickness. So you tell me. Typical Lebrecht “reporting”.

          • Anon says:

            …and absolutely no disrespect to Marzena. Huge congrats in order and it’s an amazing vote of confidence from the orchestra. Positive and wonderful news. All the best. The disrespect was towards Lebrecht’s consistent poor excuse for balanced reporting. A journalist must leave a certain amount of personal resentment at the door, shouldn’t they? Oh wait, that’s right…it’s a blog. Write whatever you want. How could I forget. (sense the intended sarcasm)

  • finnish musician says:

    “flu”…. too many late nights in the casino for Mikko, nothing new.

  • Kati Guerra says:

    Thanks for reporting this wonderful uplifting news!

  • Respect says:

    For those trashing Ms. Darvarova for her comments, you do realize she was one of the world’s great concert mistresses, and is probably not coming from a sexist viewpoint in her comments?

    • Duane says:

      Ms. Darvarova is one of the finest, accomplished violinists of our time and is, respectfully, entitled to her opinion, is my opinion!

  • William Safford says:

    What a lovely vote of confidence for the assistant conductor. Kudos to the orchestra et al. for doing so.