Zurich picks seasoned music director

Zurich picks seasoned music director


norman lebrecht

May 30, 2017

After the failed experiment with Lionel Bringuier, we hear that the Zurich Tonhalle is about to announce a new music director.

The incoming maestro will be Paavo Järvi, 54, former chief of the Orchestre de Paris, now with NHK in Japan.

The musicians are happy with the decision.

Paavo is good value. Zurich has a terrific group of musicians and a totally soporific audience.

UPDATE: The news has now been officially announced. Paavo starts in 2019.

Press release: Järvi’s five-year contract will include both touring and recording. Prior to taking up the post in 2019/20 he will be present in Zurich to give a performance with the Estonian Festival Orchestra at the Tonhalle Maag in January 2018, and will also spend three weeks during the 2018/19 season with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. 


  • Talking the Talk says:

    Wow! good news and let’s hope other orchestras learn from Zurich’s experience.

  • Rgiarola says:

    I can remenber people complain about Paavo generation of conductors, in order to justify the hype fashion for almost teen ones. Anyway, we are sure know that Zurich is not the USA west coast. They don’t have also a newspaper such LAtimes. Bravo Zurich!

    • Suzanne says:

      Actually the LA Times is quite a serious paper, and Mark Swed an informed critic…

    • Josh Williams says:

      The LA Phil is only one of the orchestras on the west coast of the US. Please don’t overgeneralize.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Indeed, the other high profile Californian symphony orchestra has been led by a perennially youthful conductor since the days when some currently overhyped conductors were little kids. And there are other great ensembles…

      • Rgiarola says:

        You are completely right. I love SF and Seattle orchestras, for example. That’s the reason why I’ve had also mentioned the newspaper, in order to be more clear about the city.

  • Robert Hairgrove says:

    “Zurich has a terrific group of musicians and a totally soporific audience.”

    While I wholeheartedly agree with your first statement, I’m not sure what to make of the second one. When Elliott Carter’s Oboe Concerto was premiered in Zurich in 1988, I was in the audience, and the hall was packed. They cheered and clapped for a long time when it was finished. Hard to imagine this if the audience were indeed “soporific”, as you claim.

  • David Boxwell says:

    The big challenge he faces is getting audiences to come to the very austere new hall in West Zurich, while the Tonhalle is being refurbished. (The seats at Maag have no arms).

  • M2N2K says:

    According to twisted (or possibly lack of any) logic demonstrated by some commenters here, Tonhalle’s disappointment in Lionel Bringuier as their Music Director means that something is wrong with LA Phil.
    Maybe they should check out East Coast critics once in a while, for example this recent article in NY Times:

  • Peter says:

    Calling a conductor aged 54 ‘seasoned’ is misleading.
    It’s usually just the age to become any good as a conductor.
    When the urge to impress weakens, and the assuredness of having nothing to prove to anyone, except the imaginary composer on one’s shoulder, slowly sets in.

  • Adriano says:

    The musicians were also “happy” with their decision to take Bringuier… One should never declare happiness before eating a new cake or using a new brush.