How long should a music director stay?

How long should a music director stay?


norman lebrecht

January 11, 2017

It’s a day of maestro departures.

Lan Shui has told Singapore he’s stepping down after 20 years.

Robert Moody told one of his two US orchestras that ten years was an ideal term. He’s leaving after 13.

The Italian Andrea Sanguineti is quitting Saxony after just five years.


There’s no apparent friction in any of these departure, just a sense that it’s time to move on.

Is there an x-year itch for conductors and orchestras?

What does one do when a maestro outstays his usefulness?

Who is presently the longest-serving music director? Zubin?

Which ones have stayed too long?



  • John Groves says:

    Great shame re Saxony – the tiny theatre at Goerlitz has staged some excellent operas over the past ten years. If you haven’t been, GO! Lovely city – totally unspoiled, right on the Polish border. I remember the best Magic Flute I’ve ever seen, Schwanda the Bagpiper etc.

  • Larry says:

    Maestro Moody has two other gigs: Portland (Maine) Symphony and Memphis Symphony.

    • Bruce says:

      (Leaving Winston-Salem for the Memphis job. It’s common for conductors to have a year of overlap as they finish out their contract with their old job.)

      • Bruce says:

        P.S. Ditto for the Portland, ME job. Should have finished reading the article before hitting “post comment.”

  • Larry says:

    Here in the States: Larry Rachleff is retiring after 21 years with the Rhode Island Philharmonic. David Alan Miller is celebrating his 25th anniversary this season with the Albany (NY) Symphony. Michael Morgan has been with the Oakland East Bay Symphony since 1990. Neal Gittelman has been in Dayton for 22 years.

  • Richard says:

    MTT is pulling an Ozawa and staying way too long in SF.