Breaking: Music director quits immediately over German cuts

Breaking: Music director quits immediately over German cuts


norman lebrecht

May 07, 2017

We have received the following statement on behalf of Karel Mark Chichon, music director of the radio orchestra in Saarland.

Following the recent news of the dramatic cuts that will affect the budget of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in the future, today I have informed the Saarlandischer Rundfunk of my decision to resign from my position as Chief Conductor of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, effective immediately.

I resign in protest and solidarity with the musicians of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, which I have had the honour to serve as their Chief Conductor since 2011.

It is culture and music in particular that defines the identity of a nation and its people and we cannot allow the progressive dismantling of the focus of artistic creation that is a Radio Symphony Orchestra. It is ironic that the German Culture Minister Monika Grütters has several times used her success in obtaining significant increases for culture from the Bundestag to insist that it should send “a political signal to cultural leaders in states and cities not to accept cuts in culture, even in financial difficult times”.

Culture is not a luxury – it is a necessity.

In resigning now I wish it to be known that I will suffer not only financial damages but potential personal ones in my final season with the DRP, regardless of the fact that my contract ends on 31 July 2017. Nevertheless I understand it is my moral duty to the musicians of this orchestra to make this gesture of protest. If those at the helm of cultural institutions do not take a firm stand again these corrosive policies that carry no logic, who will?

I take this opportunity to thank the musicians and staff of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie for some of the best music making years of my life. Together we have achieved great artistic success with concerts as well as recordings that I hope will be remembered for many years to come. Above all my thanks to the public we have served, who have always remained faithful to me and who have understood and appreciated the artistic transformation that was achieved during my years in Saarbrücken.


Karel Mark Chichon, OBE FRAM
Chief Conductor, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie


  • Observer says:

    Oh, for crying out loud. How many times is Chichon going to do this? He has a penchant for spinning orchestral situations into major dramas where he is the hero in order to boost his career.

    He did exactly the same thing in Latvia in 2012:

    Then there was his self-induced melodrama in Sevilla, where he announced to the press that he should be the next music director of Sevilla’s orch. and then questioned the legality of the music director selection process publicly when he was not chosen.

    This guy has the most bizarre publicity strategy of any conductor known to man. Does he really have any interest in the welfare of the musicians or the orchestra, or is he just calling attention to himself? Or maybe gunning for a higher salary. Who knows. He insists on calling attention to himself in dubious situations.

    In any case, he’s the boy who cried “wolf” once to many times and his credibility is serious marred.

  • Alfie says:

    Not so fast, Observer. With today’s climate of management who treat their musicians badly, managements who clearly know nothing about classical music, nor care to learn, why shouldn’t he make a statement about each management he works with who try to run an orchestra like a cheap business?

    You’re making the mistake of assuming that it says something negative about him, when it really says more about the managements he deals with.

    Quitting a poorly-run orchestra does nothing to boost a conductor’s career. CONDUCTING WELL is what boosts a career.

    Likewise, an orchestra management’s efforts to cheapen the quality of the product they’re supposed to market is an excellent reason to quit.

    • Daniel says:

      The problem is not the orchestra management in this case but Mr Kleist, the chairman of the television company (Intendant des Saarländischen Rundfunks). The orchestra manager Benedikt Fohr and his team do a great job.

  • James says:

    I agree with Alfie.

    Chichon is a dying breed for the worst. Most seem afraid to speak up in order to protect their jobs regardless of the mismanagement of orchestras. Chichon backs talk with action and does the opposite.

    Is it me or has nobody realised how many conductors are leaving their post recently?