Look away. It’s the worst-ever orchestral promo video

Look away. It’s the worst-ever orchestral promo video


norman lebrecht

July 13, 2016

What’s so awful?

1 It does not play classical music.

2 It looks like a package holiday ad.

3 It oozes insincerity.

4 The composer is a robot.

5 It is made by the Gewandhaus.

What would Mendelssohn have said?


Has there ever been a worse sales pitch for classical music?


  • Robert Holmén says:

    -It’s like an impressionist painting. It’s the atmosphere, not an encyclopedia illustration. This won’t lose them any of their current fans.

    -Did Mendelssohn do outdoor festival events like this? I have no idea really.

    -“Open air”? I’m going to guess the real German for that was too long to fit on the screen.

    • Max Grimm says:

      “-“Open air”? I’m going to guess the real German for that was too long to fit on the screen.”

      The “real German” for that would be ‘Freiluftkonzert’ but nowadays you’d be more likely to see ‘Open-Air’ or ‘Open-Air Konzert’ (with no or varying hyphenation).
      If you were referring to the “Klassik airleben” title, this is a play with words:
      – properly spelled, it would be “Klassik erleben” (~ to experience classical music). The English word ‘air’ is (by some Britons and Germans) pronounced similarly to the German ‘er-‘ as in ‘erleben’ (to experience), hence the not so clever “Klassik airleben”.

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        You’ve maybe inadvertently addressed the elephant in the room. I find it dreadful that Germany is so quick to abandon its own language for something certain people perceive to be trendier and more progressive. Freiluftkonzert is what it should be, not Open-Air Konzert, which is weder Fisch noch Fleisch. Reclaim your language, dear German friends!

        • Theodore McGuiver says:

          …Another horror is ‘Public Viewing’, an expression not used in English, just in Germany, making people believe this is what people say in more up-to-date societies. So misguided.

        • Dave T says:

          Or Germany wants to deflect responsibility for these inane outdoor concerts/ picnics/ wine-tastings/ dating-sites and assign their origin– and blame– to Anglophone lands (most likely the NE USA). Along with McDonalds, Tom Cruise, and lite beer, that aren’t at all German either, they’re just providing a taste of this foreign bastardization of the Great Musical Experience.

        • Max Grimm says:

          Hear, hear. Although English is the “dominant lingua franca of international diplomacy, business, science, technology and aviation”, I’ve never felt the need to replace German words with English ones. Hearing people not much younger than me utter egregious sentences such as ‘Ich habe dieses Wochenende mit meinem Dad gechillt’ is just dreadful.
          Maybe it’s time for the Bund für deutsche Schrift und Sprache to be upgraded from an incorporated association to an official German equivalent of France’s Académie française.

          • Nicholas says:

            Just dreadful. Almost as bad as Germans using “Kindergarten”, “Schadenfreude”, “Zeitgeist” and “Ersatz”. Why can’t they stick to their own language?

        • mr oakmountain says:

          Since modern English is a glorious and beautiful mixture with origins including Old Saxon, Old Norse, Latin and various stages of French, I’m sure German and other languages will survive the influence of a couple of English words. Incidentally, that’s something that languages have always done: Import words when they are useful. The Académie française trying to put up border controls for emigrating words usually ends up making “foreign” words more “hip” for the young ones.

          • Theodore McGuiver says:

            If only it were just ‘a couple’. It’s just that many of those which are now used are just completely superfluous – ‘Service Team’ on the trains, instead of Bordmannschaft, to name just one. There’s a gradual backlash in France, too, but it’s taking time for people to realise that new additions often just sound clumsy in their language. Still, the French also just invent nouns that look like English – ‘le brushing’ (the act of a hairdresser brushing your hair for a long time, for which you pay. Really.), ‘le parking’ and – my favourite – ‘le shampooing’ (pronounced +/- ‘shompwang’).

            McDonalds, Starbucks, Disney and the rest; their influence extends well beyond their egregious products.

          • Emil Archambault says:

            In fact, the Académie française surrendered completely when it came to technological vocabulary – email, chat, selfie, etc. It is the Office Québécois de la langue française that championed new, French words that have become widely accepted: courriel (email), clavardage (chat), etc. A journalist even coined “égoportrait” to replace selfie, and it seems to have caught on.

            In many respects, Québec is often ahead of France when it comes to protecting the French language.

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    Perhaps Mendelssohn would have composed A Mid Summers Night Dream music.

  • Doug says:

    All that is missing are a few gangs of rapeugees doing their deeds to young girls while the Germans look the other way and make insane excuses.

    • Sue says:

      Absolutely priceless!! Excuses to music. Yeah, that’ll work.

    • Emil Archambault says:

      I hope Mr Lebrecht will see it fit to delete this xenophobic and offensive message.

    • Craig says:

      Who are these intellectually challenged people who keep trolling Slipped Disc comments? Go and do something worthwhile with your life…oh wait…

    • Max Grimm says:

      It seems your browser’s bookmarks are mixed up. The website you’re looking for is stormfront.org, Doug.

  • Bruce says:

    It makes it look like live classical music would be a nice background for a fun family picnic outing.

  • Bob says:

    “No tenors needed”, nice title and +1 to them

  • Peter Shi says:

    Not that bad at all~at least they are using orchestral music that sounds like classics.

  • Hermann from Germany says:

    Dear Mr Lebrecht,
    you are being ridiculous. Germany has long since stepped beyong your narrow definition of what’s classical music. The music played in the promo video is much like the anglo-american music composed for films, as background music in department stores

  • Suzanne says:


  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Just watched the video. It reminded me of a 1990’s Monsanto advert I saw in California. Would it have been so offensive to just let us hear what they were playing in the background instead of have this sub-Hollywood, fake optimistic film music try to manipulate us into thinking all was well in the best of all possible worlds? The best advert for classical music is its own quality, not the peddling of an image some adman erroneously thinks will appeal to its followers.

  • oma says:

    Oh dear! This is really worst-ever, I agree. Another helpless, embarrassing approach of inspiring people of classical music who have not been in touch with it yet. The speaker’s text is the worst.

    From the Gewandhaus? Shame on you.

  • Ray says:

    They are trying to convey the relaxed atmosphere you can have on a nice summer’s nite. Successfully. Family event, young people – and all despite classical music 😉

    The background music is dreadful, however, they could probably not use a recording from that night due to copyright issues (conductor, orchestra, singer etc. – what a nightmare).

  • RW2013 says:

    Made to make Mr. Nelsons feel as if he is still in the U.S. and A.?
    At least we didn’t have to listen to Ms. Kermes sing…

  • Timothy says:

    As serious as the Germans are about their Kulturlandschaft, I think they can get away with a little lightening-up as could the conservative language snobs who seem to have come out en masse here.

  • Chris says:

    The singer’s dress at 0:54 looks like an advert for the Digital Concert Hall…

  • William Safford says:

    Visually, it is a good ad. Happy people are enjoying an outdoor classical concert. Turnout is large, which is a good thing. The audience comprises young people, old people, couples, families, children, people arriving on bicycles, people enjoying libations.

    The background music is banal and insipid. That means it’s a commercial. *shrug*

    I don’t understand the words, so I cannot comment on the voiceover.

    Finally, I *love* the “No Tenors Needed” appellation in the end credits! Hurrah!

    With the proviso that I do not understand the voiceover, I like the ad.