Breaking: Dohnanyi cancels, Dudamel flies in

Christoph von Dohnanyi, who has been unwell since the start of the year, has called off next month’s Pittsburgh date.

But here’s the surprise: his replacement is Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil music director, who hardly ever conducts any other US orchestra.

Among many unanswered questions, how can the deficit-dragging Pittsburgh Symphony afford so expensive a substitute? And what’s Dude’s game? It’s a bread-and-butter concert (prog below). Where’s the beefsteak?

Strauss: Don Juan, Opus 20
Wagner: Overture to Tannhäuser
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Opus 67

 

UPDATE: Dohnanyi will be replaced at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Neeme Järvi.

 

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  • Has known that Deborah is leaving L.A., so sees the writing on the wall for himself and is building cred on (near) the East Coast?

    Is himself sick of L.A.?

  • Maybe they need a big name conductor to ensure a decent audience turnout, given the obscure, esoteric program.

    • Strauss: Don Juan, Opus 20
      Wagner: Overture to Tannhäuser
      Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Opus 67

      Obscure? Esoteric??? Sarcasm?

          • So far, in just two short comments, you have already demonstrated a very limited sense of humor and a virtually unlimited ignorance of the subject. Not bad.

          • I know. Funny how Abbado, Rattle and numerous others saw his value early on. And how could the Vienna Phil EVER invite him to lead their New Year’s Day concert? But then again, they don’t possess your keen insight.

  • Somebody should get props for securing Dudamel as a substitute. Good for all concerned. The PSO is just a fantastic orchestra and maybe Dudamel was free enough to give them a try……………….I bet this will be a great concert.

  • Slipped Disc rarely has nice things to say about most orchestras but it does love to say “The Dude.” Good for Pittsburgh and good for Dudamel.

  • “…Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil music director, who hardly ever conducts any other US orchestra.”

    Wasn’t aware of this. Is there any reason why?

    • The reason is simple: devoting several months annually to his commitments as the MD of both LAPO and SBSOV, regularly guest conducting both Berliners and Wieners, occasionally conducting operas which he values and likes, studying new scores – all that does not leave him much time to spend with his son and his current partner. If anything, he already conducts too much and it is rather remarkable that he found several days for Pittsburgh in his next month’s schedule.

      • I can see his two MDships accounting for 20-24 weeks, the European spots another 8 to 10. That leaves 18+ weeks in any year. Is he turning down offers to guest conduct in the U.S.? For reference, I’ve enjoyed most of his concerts.

        • Your estimates are imprecise. This season, for example, GD conducts LA Phil for 14 weeks indoors and three weeks outdoors – that is 17 weeks of conducting. And he probably spends a comparable amount of time with SBSOV. That is already 34 weeks right there. Add Europe and an opera somewhere and there isn’t much time left in a year. The only conductor with busier schedule is of course Valery Gergiev, but he would not be a good role model. A young man with a son and a partner needs to have a little bit of private life too, you know… Not to mention some time to study scores, widen repertoire, read, listen and so on.

          • He still tours with SBSOV regularly but I don’t think he spends as much time with it as compared to LAPO

          • “Your estimates are imprecise. ..”

            His website: http://www.gustavodudamel.com/us-en/schedule
            shows ~30 weeks (estimating week boundaries) or ~83 dates (counting listed performances) of conducting between March 2017 and March 2018. Nelsons shows 61 dates in the ~7 months between September 2016 and early March 2017, ~112 for Nezet-Seguin between January and December 2017.

            https://andrisnelsons.com/schedule/?type=past
            https://yannicknezetseguin.com/en/calendar/

            “A young man with a son and a partner needs to have a little bit of private life too, you know… Not to mention some time to study scores, widen repertoire, read, listen and so on.”

            Or appear at Super Bowls and other convenient photo ops. The other two are also young and presumably not monks.

          • Thanks for counting – 112 performances in one year is definitely a lot. And you may have noticed how many of those 173 conducting appearances for the two of them combined are with American symphony orchestras other than “their own”. That’s right – exactly zero. So, thanks to Pittsburgh, GD is actually ahead of both of them in that department.

          • “So, thanks to Pittsburgh, GD is actually ahead of both of them in that department.”

            Then Joe Lazar’s idea of a geographical non-compete clause makes more sense than your theory.

          • Not quite, because if a conductor in Tulsa can obtain permission for exceptions to such restrictions, maestros of GD stature can certainly get similar releases from limitations in their contracts when they really want to, particularly when the “local” designation does not really apply, as evidenced by his engagement in Pittsburgh.

          • M2N2K: “because if a conductor in Tulsa can obtain permission for exceptions to such restrictions, maestros of GD stature…”

            Aha, I see what you did there.

            I think we’re actually agreeing, at least to a point: Dudamel has such a clause in his contract that is subject to the occasional negotiated exception, such as this one, to guest conduct a renowned US orchestra. It answers my original question of why he’s not a frequent guest conductor in the US without invoking any Musical Scholar/Father of the Year hypotheses.

          • And my point has been and still is that he could (and possibly or probably would) have been doing guest conducting in USA more frequently if he had more “free” time for it and was less interested in personal life with all of its commitments and responsibilities.

          • The reason I didn’t mention the relevant contract clause originally was that it is such a well-known issue that it did not occur to me that an informed reader of this blog would not know about it. So, it is not a “Joel Lazar’s idea” at all but a well-established fact of conductors’ life in USA for many decades. However, there have always been exceptions and that was the basis of my responses.

    • Of course Dudamel might want to use one of his ‘get out of jail’ cards for anything engagement he wanted. My point, ignored by both the statisticians and the conspiracy theorists, is that he’d have a contractual geographical restriction probably to North American guest dates and would want a good reason–such as being a good colleague
      -and a fine orchestra [which by the way Pittsburgh has been for decades] to use it. As to why this one…frankly, who cares?

      • ” My point, ignored by both the statisticians and the conspiracy theorists, is that he’d have a contractual geographical restriction probably to North American guest dates …”

        As a card-carrying conspiracy theorist and occasional statistician, your explanation made perfect sense.

        Perhaps Dudamel is returning a favor to Pittsburgh for having their French Horn virtuoso Mr. Caballero (c.f. Gustav’s post) on tour with the Phil a few years ago.

        Or, maybe he’s wooing the Pittsburgh management team much as van Zweden wooed Deborah Borda.

        The truth is out there…

  • Something to be said for playing a ‘bread and butter’ concert in an interpretation that hasn’t been heard before. They’re in for a treat regardless. The audience won’t be worrying about any politics.

  • Regardless of the circumstances, and not withstanding the usual self-appointed pedants here, Pittsburgh is in for a treat, as is their wonderful orchestra.

  • It is not impossible that Dudamel’s contract with the LA Philharmonic precludes guest engagements in the US or limits them severely. This is not uncommon language to find under such circumstances–high-profile conductor, major orchestra.

    • By the way, although I was not in a ‘major conductor/major orchestra’ situation in Tulsa as Music Director 1980-83, my contract, a fairly standard one negotiated through my management, precluded for instance LOCAL engagements with other groups except by permission of the Tulsa Philharmonic’s management, which I fastidiously requested and obtained, for instance, to conduct a regional high school honors band concert. Having been based in Washington DC for the past 30-some years I’ve noted the rare guest engagements with the National Symphony Orchestra of top-line conductors who had at the time an official US position. Solti, Abbado, Ozawa, Mehta, come to mind along with a few others once each and most of them for Pension Fund concerts. We assumed that Rostropovich was calling in favors from his friends and we were grateful for it. Soloists’ contracts with major orchestras also typically will contain time and geography clauses, to enforce some degree of exclusivity.

  • Surprisingly, the Pgh. Symphony has scheduled Dohnanyi to conduct next season (Nov.3/5, Bartok Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta & Schubert’s Symphony No. 9. The man is 87! When the PSO scheduled him last season, and I read of his numerous cancellations, I predicted he’d cancel, and I can only think Maestro Honeck is prepared for it to happen again, with back up substitutes in mind. It worked out for the best this time, because Dudamel was magnificent. FYI, here’s a letter published in the Pgh. paper re his rehearsal.

    Yes, Maestro Gustavo Dudamel (“Dudamel Puts His Stamp on PSO Concert,” April 8), I believe our pathways in life cross in key moments. I saw one of those times unfold at the Pittsburgh Symphony Association Affiliates Day, where members and guests observed Mr. Dudamel’s rehearsal. On that rainy morning, as the rehearsal lengthened, I could feel the change in the musicians’ notes as their passion increased through a mutual exchange of vision. All of us crave new learning.

    As PSO violinist Chris Wu said at a PSA affiliates luncheon, “I look at how to play Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 differently because of Dudamel.” Between the two forces — Mr. Dudamel and the musicians of the PSO — I felt spring had sprung in Heinz Hall. Thanks, Maestro! I thought to myself, yes, they are part of our city’s history of champions and are our musical ambassadors to the world. On that rainy day they were one of the best symphony orchestras in our country and in my heart. They made me proud to live in the ’Burgh!
    (end of letter) I attended the performance and he really did bring out the best from an already very fine orchestra. The audience was as excited and enthused as any I have seen in decades of concert going.

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