Christoph Eschenbach collects another cheque

The conductor will be honoured today by the Brahms-Gesellschaft of Schleswig-Holstein with the 2016 Brams Prize and a bank order for 10,000 Euros.


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  • It has always mystified me why august institutions (particularly outside the UK) give big-money awards to wealthy, established stars of the classical music world. Surely it would be better to give an honour like the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal (which, as far as I know has no money attached) to the stars, and give the money as bursaries to up and coming artists at the beginning of their careers or outstanding students, who can maybe make better use of it (eg, the Gilmore Artist Award).

  • I think that as his career declines and fades, as is currently the case, Eschenbach will depend more and more on these “cheques” for income. That said, in his case, this relentless receiving of financial awards from his native Germany is due to a sort of nepotism. I personally find the awarding of cash to well-established millionaire musicians in extremely poor taste and what I find even worse, is that someone like Eschenbach actually takes and keeps the money while already being the highest and most overpaid music director in the business. I also find him an extremely uninteresting and poor conductor. This constant manifestation of greed on his part certainly won’t help his already tarnished reputation.

    • $10,000 is a drop in the bucket for Eschenbach – probably less than he receives for one rehearsal with the Seoul Philharmonic or the Shanghai Symphony.

      Surely the real disgrace here is the Birgit Nilsson Prize. $1 million each given out so far to Placido Domingo, Riccardo Muti and the Vienna Philharmonic. If Ms. Nilsson had stipulated that the awardees give their Prize to musical organisations and promising musicians of their choice – as I believe Muti announced he would do – that would be perfectly understandable. But one very rich soprano leaving so much merely to hand it over to other very rich musicians or musical enterprises is really a rather sad joke I feel.

      • It does start to look like “here’s a big bag of money as a reward for already being rich & famous.”

  • I don’t really get this hate campaign against Eschenbach- initiated by Norman- who’s usually highly discerning. Watched him many times as both as pianist and conductor. OK- he has his off nights like all performers- but he’s a prodigiously gifted man- with often very special interpretative insights.

    Whether he’s greedy or not is for others to decide. But, by all reports, he is one of Classical music’s top earners. Therefore I agree that he doesn’t need these further generous bonuses and it would be good if he donated them to musical charities under the circumstances.

    • Mark Mortimer writes, “it would be good if he donated them to musical charities under the circumstances.”

      Sorry, but it is highly doubtful that will ever happen. The guy is definitely not the generous type, is obsessed by money and wants it all for himself. I dealt with him very often for over five years in Chicago and I can tell you that money is very important for him. His concerts conducting the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival remain among the highest paid of any conductor. Why? Not because he deserved it, but because he demanded it, along with having soloists of his choice, some of them totally unknown and among the worst musicians the orchestra and I had ever heard. I won’t mention any names, but one of them demanded limousines, presidential suites in hotels and outrageous fees. It was shameful!

      • If you are an insider can you please explain why the Chicago Symphony and so many other organizations couldn’t just turn down Eschenbach’s demand for high fees?

      • I am afraid I agree with Petros. You can always say “no” if you don’t want to pay the fee. And you can always decline to accept the soloists that he proposes.

  • The only place to easily find this photograph of Christph Eschenbach is Slipped Disc. It doesn’t show up on an image search on google.

  • Eschenbach is a bore and its always the same story with him. Either he is getting thrown out of an orchestra for poor music directorship or he is collecting and hoarding prize money from some obscure German organisation. He really is not interesting at all and I can’t understand how and why orchestras continue to engage him, especially as a music director, when they all know full well that with him it has repeatedly ended in disaster time and time again, all at great financial loss to the donors, patrons and audiences in the cities unfortunate enough to have hired him.

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