Alan Gilbert: ‘I wasn’t looking for a new place’

The new chief conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie, named this morning, says he was planning to take a break after the NY Philharmonic but the new hall in Hamburg offers him the space to innovate.

‘It’s about embracing the new,’ he said.

In English.

Just like the Berlin Philharmonic.

UPDATE: When were you last excited by a new music director?

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  • There are two kinds of fools: one says, “This is old, therefore it is good”; the other says, “This is new, therefore it is better.”

    William Ralph Inge

    • The 20C obsession with ‘new’ stems from science, and the foolishness of spreading it over all other fields, including culture, has become the tyranny of ignorance and populism.

      In the Italian Renaissance, the ‘new’ was the imitation of antiquity (1000 years earlier) and the ‘new’ was considered ‘better’ not because it was new, but because it was better than what they had before. So, the new was an improvement in terms of quality – at least, that is how it was treated at the time. One can read all this in Vasari’s ‘The Life of the Artists’. It is not the ‘newness’ of something which sets a standard, but its quality. If something that is old, is obviously better than something that is newer, one should try to emulate the old, it is as simple as that.

      The Alp Phil is a myth of an idea of modernity of at least half a century old, so it is actually a very oldfashioned idea, rather like a time capsule. That is OK – but is it, in itself, better than how older concert halls were built? That will be a difficult question. Will the new music GIlbert will introduce there, be better than the music of older eras? Also difficult. One thing is certain: Beethoven, Mozart, Mahler etc. etc. will feel quite out of place in the star trek imitation of the place.

  • Sounds like his plan is to let the visiting world class orchestras play the standard repertoire and let the home town orchestra play the new stuff. Well, even the adulating NYT concedes that Gilbert’s forte was never in the core repertoire.

  • Re: the language of the interview: Gilbert speaks excellent German. I would think it would be obvious that sometimes people feel more comfortable speaking in their first language in interviews(high-profile ones, especially), despite having a high proficiency in their second language.

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