Leipzig fiddles around with its violas

Leipzig fiddles around with its violas


norman lebrecht

July 19, 2017

The Gewandhausorchester has named the Russian violist Elizaveta Zolotova as principal viola after a set of summer auditions.

Born into a Moscow musical family, she has been a regular at Verbier for the past decade and played in the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, She joined the Staatskapelle Dresden as a section player in 2014 and moved to the Gewandhaus last year.


Behind these moves, other wheels were turning.

Last year, the Gewandhaus appointed section player Anton Jivaev to be its principal viola.

Clearly that did not work out. Jivaev, from Uzbekistan, was asked to reapply for his position in this summer’s auditions but chose to return to his former tenured position within the section. Another player in the section then won the audition.

This does not look like a particularly happy outcome.

The Gewandhaus has made no announcement of the new principal viola.


  • Leipziger says:

    To the readers of the blog:

    1. Mrs. Zolotova didn’t “move to Gewandhaus” in 2016 nor was “another player in the section”; she had a time contract and just officially entered GWO, in Probejahr;
    2. Mr. Jivaev was never “asked to reapply” for the solo position, nor “chose to return to his former tenured position”; he simply didn’t pass his Probejahr for the solo position and got back to the tutti spot, as commonly happens in orchestras.


    • norman lebrecht says:

      Since the orchestra provided no facts, we went on the best facts we could obtain. They seem to be pretty close to the truth.

      • Leipziger says:

        That’s precisely why facts must be checked — as I wrote in my comment, but you preferred to edit (censor) my words. It is really a pity that you always treat the corrections pointed by your readers with dismissal. If you can’t/don’t want to check facts by yourself, it would be way more valuable to listen to people who are actually closer to the subjects that you write about.

        And by the way: Gewandhausorchester (as many other german orchestras) make their announcements when musicians actually pass their Probejahr and officially enter the group of musicians, not when they enter the Probejahr. So, therefore, no announcement would have been made now.

        • Max Grimm says:

          While I don’t know the various policies regarding the announcement of new musicians, the Gewandhausorchester has in the recent past made announcements about musicians joining the orchestra, before they had started/completed their Probezeit (ie. Andreas Buschatz, Léonard Frey-Maibach, Gayane Khachatryan, Sébastian Jacot, Tomáš Trnka).
          I’ve noticed some orchestras tending to post an announcement about a new musician soon after he/she has won an audition for a principal position but not in the case of musicians joining as rank-and-file players, announcing instead their successful completion of the Probezeit, as you have stated.

        • John says:

          Oh shut up, would you. Please?

      • Thomas says:

        The “best facts you can obtain” ??

        It’s either true, or not.

        Journalism at it’s worst.

    • Interested Violist says:

      So was Jivaev replaced by Zolotova of was he replaced by someone else in the section. There were two open solo viola spots (including 1st solo viola) prior to this summer is there now only one?

      • Max Grimm says:

        Yes, it’s the same position.
        There are currently 3 viola vacancies being advertised; Tutti Viola, audition on 5/6 September this year; Solo Viola, audition on 8/9 January 2018; 1st Solo Viola, audition on 4/5 December this year.
        Viel Erfolg.