Simon Rattle: LSO players were weeping in their seats

Simon Rattle: LSO players were weeping in their seats


norman lebrecht

May 21, 2017

The conductor tells the Berliner Morgenpost that in the past 11 months the London Symphony Orchestra has received fewer applications from Europe for its auditions.

‘People simply don’t know how complicated it’s going to be (after Brexit),’ he says. ‘Nobody wants something bad to come out of this decision, but it’s hard not to think of it as an act of self-injury. Myself, I feel more European than ever.’

He says he was rehearsing with the orchestra the morning after the Brexit vote last year and players were weeping in their seats.

Full interview here.


  • Rgiarol says:

    London orchestras have non-european employees from Americas, Asia etc. They are not allowed to work in the UK without a permission. This permission is obtained by the company they will work for with UK government. What’s happens with brexit? Europeans musician will need this permission like many of their colleagues. I don’t see a point here? Political reprisal to the UK? What is the real matter? If it has more costs, it is the problem of the Orchestra, not for the employee

  • Simon Evnine says:

    A great interview. Really thoughtful questions

  • DESR says:

    Weeping in their seats? Give over. The LSO? Used to be tough bastards.

    • Gary says:

      Which just to show what a tragedy Brexit is.

      • Holly Golightly says:

        Not like Manchester, aye? And many folk just aren’t intelligent enough to understand why the people wanted Brexit!! As Robert Frost wrote in “Out, Out”…

        “And they, since they
        Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.”

    • Bruce says:

      Courtesy of Google Translate:

      “I was at the London Symphony the day after the Brexit decision. We could not start the trial [rehearsal?] without first discussing it. There were musicians who cried because it was always a European orchestra. It always consisted of many nations.”

      • DESR says:


        • Bruce says:

          Call them whatever you like. Your contempt comes through loud & clear.

          • DESR says:

            Oh come on, these are the guys (not many girls) who made Böhm cry. And not just because of how they played Tod und Verklärung for him…

            I can understand shock (we were all shocked) but weeping like babies with only a Rattle to play with? Dear, oh dear.

          • Bruce says:

            Oh right. I forgot the part about weeping “like babies.” Which they must have been doing, because the only reason a human being can have for shedding tears is when they’re having a tantrum because they didn’t get their way.

            P.S. Bohm died 36 years ago. These are probably not the same people, for the most part.

  • Orchestral Player says:

    Dear DESR ,
    Maybe you are referring to LSO players of yesteryear ! LSO players of today are just normal human beings, not tougher, not gentler than other musicians. Just professionals who enjoy the International(ness) of the LSO membership. In fact all great orchestras around the world have multiple nationalities in their midst.
    So yes, on June 24th 2016, we were rehearsing with Simon and the atmosphere was very sombre. I am an EU national who has lived in London since 1982, and been part of London’s rich orchestral tapestry ever since and yes I cried on June 24th last year.

    • Steve P says:

      How is it that brexit is going to eliminate internationalism in English orchestras? America seems to do fine hiring from all over the world. Brexit is a great idea: the euro is going to crash and unchecked immigration is challenging the existing culture – a culture that is worth preserving.

      • Robert Holmén says:

        1) Simon Rattle didn’t say “eliminate”, he said “People simply don’t know how complicated it’s going to be”. “Eliminate” is a exaggeration you inserted to misrepresent his position.

        2) I think you’ll find that the vast, vast majority of US orchestral players are US citizens. US citizens don’t need a special visa to move from New York to work in Texas, a far greater distance than from France to the UK, for which you will need a special visa after Brexit.

        • Steve P says:

          1) true, exaggeration on my part. But the “weeps no in their seats” exaggeration certainly isn’t much better.
          2) how in the world did orchestras in Europe ever work before EU? Were they more provincial or – careful – nationalistic? Just curious.

      • Bruce says:

        I’ve noticed how much we Americans love it when people from other countries try to tell us how we should feel about what’s going on in the US. What a nice gesture to provide the same experience for others.

        • Steve P says:

          I don’t know about a nice gesture, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around musicians weeping in their seats over politics. Thank God for the low brass players – I’m sure they had better things to do than cray like babies. Trumpets and horns, though…probably reduced to puddles.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        If you can’t “wrap your head around” why many people in the UK were deeply saddened and even shocked by the results of the Brexit referendum (whether they actually cried or not), then that’s probably because you don’t understand its many implications, many of which could turn out to be very bad for the people there.

  • Maria says:

    Members of the LSO are allegedly weeping over Brexit, so who cares what is happening in Greece?

    Glad we’ve got our priorities right.

    • Bruce says:

      Yes. It is a scientifically established fact of human nature that people are able to care about only one thing.

  • Una says:

    What a load of nonsense. All the fine conductors – and other musicians – that went in all directions around the world! There weren’t any problem prior to 1973, or whenever it was, when we joined the then Common Market, not this EU thing. LSO want to dry their crocodile tears and think a bit further than their own noses and self-interest. All this scaremongering. I’ve been typing up interview No 126 for Bruce Duffie in Chicago of the most amazing people, many of whom I have never heard of to be honest. But my goodness they went from America to ‘Europe’ in the 50s and 60s, including some singing at Covent Garden and conducting all over the place, and coming to study. We managed then, and there was less money around in those days. Yes, look at Greece … forget about LSO musicians or any musician, including myself, for a minute. EU has got them in a terrible mess and the EU doesn’t care. No one mentions Italy’s finances on the brink as it’s too embarrassing with them being a major country in the EU, as opposed to Croatia et al.

    • Gary says:

      “There weren’t any problem prior to 1973, or whenever it was, when we joined the then Common Market”.
      Actually moving to and working as a musician in Europe was complex and difficult. I know because I did it. You, I assume, didn’t and are just guessing.

    • Alan says:

      This is exactly the kind of drivel i expect from Rattla and why i don’t attend his concerts any more. Vote with your feet. He has never lived up to his full potential TBH, to full of himself and his self importance.

      • M2N2K says:

        Not being in possession of your miraculous ability to measure Sir Simon’s “full potential”, I would have to trust your conclusion that he “has never lived up” to it. However, when 90% of someone’s potential is better than most others’ 100%, then that is good enough for mere mortal me.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Just had an official letter from the Barbican accompanying their summer programme. In the letter they refer to Sir Rattle! Ha, ha,ha!

  • Douglas Quigg says:

    I am passionately for the EEC. I also love the LSO. But come on. This is nonsense. The Berlin Phil is made up of musicians from all over the globe. Britain will survive and so will the LSO.

  • Giometti says:

    Utter rubbish. The LSO are more concerned about music making at the highest level and procuring as many film sessions that is humanly possible! Rattle is exaggerating as usual at the expense of this magnificent orchestra.

  • B Rushford says:

    Europe is a land mass and will always be,the EU however,just a club,man made and subject to all the pluses and minuses(which there are many)