Turkey’s Erdogan declines Beethoven’s Ninth

Turkey’s Erdogan declines Beethoven’s Ninth


norman lebrecht

July 09, 2017

German media a re reporting that Turkeys president was the lone absentee of the G20 leaders at the Elbphilharmonie performance of Beethoven’s ninth symphony.

No reason was given for his withdrawal, together with his wife.

Read into it what you will.

Trump turned up late. The start was delayed.


  • Gary says:

    All men shall be brothers…

    • Max Grimm says:

      Indeed. Unfortunately it seems that many are using Cain and Abel for reference.

    • Nancy Wilken says:

      President Trump defines “brothers” as “loyal only to him”;therefore The Ninth’s message would be NOT be
      his “Shtick”or “schtick” depending upon Yiddish derivation of the high German. Any way “Lennie”
      was fond of saying “We Must Learn to Forgive” and “Try to Forget”. Probably got behind Twittering
      and social media, his forte, renders him attention deficit disorder victim (I myself have same
      problem and so does the “Geek” who I consult to straighten out computer viruses. (Been hacked 3X
      in 3-4 months–how many firewalls can you have?) Suggestions please.

      • Dr Who says:

        Madam, avoid free wifi, do not use wireless at all, turn off the wireless bit of your router and the remote access facility. Hard wire your pc to the wall.

    • Tubalcain says:

      Perhaps the reason why Erdogan did not turn up and Trump was late was that neither undertood the significance of this esoteric stanza contained within the ode to Joy.

      All who can call at least one soul theirs,
      Join our song of praise;
      But those who cannot must creep tearfully
      Away from our circle.

      One might have thought that Erdogan would have at least showed up for the Turkish march!

      The fact is one could not establish true concord with either Erdogan or Trump.

    • J W Carruthers says:

      Regarding the Turkish theme here, there is, I believe an amusing Foreign Office story concerning a 1943 dispatch sent from Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr, H.M. Ambassador to Moscow, to Lord Reginald Pembroke:

      It reads as follows.

      In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light that spill from Heaven. . .So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life. . .God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me that he is called Mustapha Kunt. We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when Spring is upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that.

      See the original dispatch note below.


      • Furzwängler says:

        Wonderful. This story has brightened my day. Thank you.

        • J W Carruthers says:

          Glad it cheered you up old boy. Indeed I have many more amusing FO anecdotes the National Archives are full of them don’t you know.

          • Furzwängler says:

            I say dear chap, what spiffingly fine anecdotes. And so much more entertaining than that German feller’s by now humongously tedious symphony (can’t remember the bloke’s name), whose soi-disant ‘Ode to Joy’ has been hijacked by the ghastly eurotheocratic bunch of you-know-whats.

        • J W Carruthers says:

          Here is another Foreign Office anecdote from around 1911, attributed to a certain T.E. Lawrence.

          The Hodja was sent to the Kurds as an envoy. Immediately upon his arrival he was invited to a banquet. He put on his fur coat and went. In the middle of the conversation he suddenly let a fart. They said to him, “It is scandalous to fart like that.”

          “What?” he replied. “How was I to know that the Kurds would understand when I farted in Turkish?”

        • J W Carruthers says:

          You may also enjoy this anecdote, from 1885 attributed to the explorer, Sir Richard Burton.

          Many years ago in the city of Kaukaban in Yemen there was a man named Abu Hasan of the Fadhli tribe who left the Bedouin life and became a townsman and the wealthiest of merchants. His wife died while both were young, and his friends pressed him to marry again.
          Weary of their pressure, Abu Hasan entered into negotiations with the old women who procure matches, and married a woman as beautiful as the moon shining over the sea. To the wedding banquet he invited kith and kin, ulema and fakirs, friends and foes, and all of his acquaintances.
          The whole house was thrown open to feasting: There were five different colours of rice, and sherbets of as many more; kid goats stuffed with walnuts, almonds, and pistachios; and a young camel roasted whole. So they ate and drank and made merry.
          The bride was displayed in her seven dresses — and one more — to the women, who could not take their eyes off her. At last the bridegroom was summoned to the chamber where she sat enthroned. He rose slowly and with great dignity from his divan; but in so doing, for he was rather full of meat and drink, he let fly a great and terrible fart.
          In fear for their lives, all the guests immediately turned to their neighbours and talked aloud, pretending to have heard nothing.
          Mortified, Abu Hasan turned away from the bridal chamber and as if to answer a call of nature. He went down to the courtyard, saddled his mare, and rode off, weeping bitterly through the night.
          In time he reached Lahej where he found a ship ready to sail for India; so he boarded, arriving ultimately at Calicut on the Malabar coast. Here he met with many Arabs, especially from Hadramaut, who recommended him to the King. This King (who was a Kafir) trusted him and advanced him to the captaincy of his bodyguard. He remained there ten years, in peace and happiness, but finally was overcome with homesickness. His longing to behold his native land was like that of a lover pining for his beloved; and it nearly cost him his life.
          Finally he sneaked away without taking leave and made his way to Makalla in Hadramaut. Here he donned the rags of a dervish. Keeping his name and circumstances a secret, he set forth on foot for Kaukaban. He endured a thousand hardships of hunger, thirst, and fatigue; and braved a thousand dangers from lions, snakes, and ghouls.
          Drawing near to his old home, he looked down upon it from the hills with brimming eyes, and said to himself, “They might recognize me, so I will wander about the outskirts and listen to what people are saying. May Allah grant that they do not remember what happened.”
          He listened carefully for seven nights and seven days, until it happened that, as he was sitting at the door of a hut, he heard the voice of a young girl saying, “Mother, tell me what day was I born on, for one of my companions wants to tell my fortune.”
          The mother answered, “My daughter, you were born on the very night when Abu Hasan farted.”
          No sooner had the listener heard these words than he rose up from the bench and fled, saying to himself, “Verily my fart has become a date! It will be remembered for ever and ever.
          He continued on his way, returning finally to India, where he remained in self exile until he died. May the mercy of Allah be upon him!

  • Peter says:

    No surprise. Muslims detest classical music.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Is that your personal opinion or some research based information? I would be grateful if you elaborated.

      • J W Carruthers says:

        When I was stationed in Cairo during the war, the Mohammed Ali club sponsored a Gilbert & Sullivan concert performance of Pirates of Penzance. Gerald Durrell helped organise it. I do enjoy the Major General song and so did the Egyptians, have you ever heard it at all?


        • Gladstone Screwer says:

          Carruthers have you heard this story concerning Churchill’s involvement in the British withdrawal from Norway in 1940?

          Following the British withdrawal in I940 from Norway, it was proposed that the Royal Marines should all have sheaths to protect the exposed muzzles of their rifles from the sharp temperature changes for their next foray into Norway.

          A pharmaceutical company that specialized in manufacturing condoms was given the job. In due course the first box was delivered for the Prime Minister’s inspection. He looked at the box and muttered, ‘Won’t do.’ He drew a carton out of the box, shook his head and muttered ‘Won’t do’ again. He opened the carton and took out a packet. ‘Won’t do,’ he reiterated.

          ‘What do you mean it won’t do?’ an aide asked him. ‘They are long enough for the muzzles – ten and a half inches.’ ‘Labels,’ came the cryptic reply. ‘Labels?’ ‘Yes. I want a label for every box, every carton, every packet, saying “British. Size: Medium”. That will show the Nazis, if they ever recover one of them, who’s the master race.’

  • Olassus says:

    Norman, stop bashing our hard-working president. Trump was one of the first into the seats, with the Macrons. Also participated in group photo on Elbphil steps, around 18h40, unlike Abe and Putin. Putin did not make it into the hall for the downbeat.

    • Herr Doktor says:

      I’m not sure if this comment is literal or tongue-in-cheek. If it’s literal, than Olassus, you REALLY need to swallow the red pill and emerge from clutches of the Con Man. The rest of us who were not conned would welcome you with open arms.

      • Steve P says:

        I am definitely red pilled and love knowing the globalist country ruiners such as yourself are experiencing delightful awakenings. Trump is winning in every possible way – and if the late to the theater story is true, so what? I wish I had that kind of power when I’m running behind.

        • Alvaro says:

          Please prepare the swiffer before your head explodes: A president who has had two executive orders rejected by the courts, who now says his border fence will have solar panels because he cant get mexico to pay for it, who cant pass his star healthcare legislation at all – legislation that is as unethical and detrimental for the country’s economy as they come – and that is literally the laughing stock of the rest of the world on a daily basis is “winning at everything”?

          One cant help but wonder, what kind of peiple would idolize a person whose only assertion ad vomitum is “I’m a winner, I’ll make you win, I’m the buggest winner”? Would a self-reliant, self-confident person fall for that? One thinks not. Only losers want to “become winners”. I fyou are a winner, whybdo you need another person to make you feel like one?

          Your comment “I wish I had that kind of power when running late”… perfectly exemplifies what side you fall into the winners and losers table. L….

          • PaulD says:

            Alvaro, you must have missed the recent Supreme Court interim ruling on the executive orders on immigration.

          • Steve P says:

            How so? I detest tardiness and appreciate timeliness in my subordinates; thus, I would like to magically “wipe away” any evidence of lateness on my part. Sadly, I don’t have that ability like President Trump.
            Where in the world are you getting your news, sir? Nothing you have written is remotely correct regarding policy under President Trump. Try turning off the television and stop relying on MSM for your writing points.

        • Inigo Montoya says:

          Trump is winning in every possible way??

          Just today his own party said his bid to kill Obamacare is “dead.”

          Trump is winning in every possible way?? I do not think this means what you think it means…

        • Herr Doktor says:

          Steve P., I’m going to assume that your comment is actually serious and you’re not a troll. Let me say this. If you are a Trump supporter because you think he actually BELIEVES in your cause and will actually implement effective policies that will reverse globalization, you’re going to be one disillusioned guy and become nothing less than the latest burned graduate of Trump “University”. Let me also say that I’m DEEPLY sympathetic to your concerns over globalization. As a society, we’ve done far too little to address the very real and legitimate concerns of people who have not benefited from globalization. We can do a whole lot better, and it’s not hard to do. It just takes political will, and not having a party that blocks any progress in this area for the last 20 years–and that’s the Republicans.

          But here’s where you’re not seeing the bigger picture: It’s the DEMOCRATS who have been trying to do something to ease the burdens of globalization, not the Republicans. Obama wanted to implement re-training programs, the congressional Republicans wouldn’t allow one cent. Obamacare is all about improving the social safety net–healthcare–so that people who lose their jobs don’t find themselves also losing health insurance. The Republicans fought him every step of the way (and continue to do so). Obama fought for re-development and creating employment incentives in regions negatively affected by jobs moving away, the Republicans stopped that dead in its tracks. Obama tried to implement a huge infrastructure rebuilding program, and the Republicans wouldn’t allow it to happen. On and on…these are far from the whole story of examples of how Democrats have tried to actively work on these issues, and the Republicans stop them every time. But unless one follows the news very closely, one wouldn’t know this.

          While globalization has become bi-partisan, it’s the Republicans who have consistently been supporters of it, and it’s only relatively recently (i.e. the Clinton administration) where Democrats have “triangulated” in order to attempt to co-opt a historically Republic issue and to be bi-partisan rather than strict opponents. So to think that the “solution” to globalization is going to come from Republicans, who have shown in their ACTIONS that they have no interest in anyone but the winners from it, to do anything to help out others, is delusional at best.

          What Trump is above all else is a con man. He promises whatever his audience needs to hear to get them to do what he wants them to do, and then does what he wants, which is intended to benefit either himself directly or those who are very rich. He cares as much about you and your concerns as the squirrel in your back yard does. It’s really that simple.

          The sad fact is that a lot of good, well-meaning people have placed their trust in a man who is worthy of no one’s trust. More than half the country already understands that. I am VERY sympathetic to your concerns and agree strongly that we need to do better. But the ONLY way that help is going to come is from Democrats. If you think the Republicans, the party which cares only about billionaires and their ilk, are going to come to your rescue, you’re going to have a very rude awakening.

          • Petros Linardos says:

            “He promises whatever his audience needs to hear to get them to do what he wants them to do”: yes, and he keeps contradicting his own promises in doing so. Healthcare is a prime example.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Erdogan had read the text of the finale; Trump had to be explained what a concert is, what a symphony orchestra is, and who Beethoven was.

    • Sue says:

      Erdogan is a despot, Trump the leader of the free world. I know which man I’d prefer, Beethoven or not.

      • Brian says:

        Trump’s well on his way – a despot in training.

        I’m just surprised he didn’t send a family member like Ivanka or Donald Jr. to sit in his seat for the concert.

        • John Borstlap says:

          He would be afraid that he would be burdened by conversation about the event over dinner and have to listen to opinions he could not counter because of not having been there.

        • Steve P says:

          You do know Ivanka is a senior advisor and other G20 seats were filled when elected leaders were out of them, right?
          Oh, silly me, you are an MSNBC reader; I should probably put this in video form to explain the fake narrative to you in a way you’d understand.
          As to your first point, the word you were looking for is “President.” I’m sure in whatever country you reside you’ve become accustomed to a “leader” who spends far more time groveling than anything else, so of course you can be forgiven for not recognizing actual leadership like President Trump.

          • Steinway Fanatic says:

            so your idea of a leader is an ignorant bully? Keep drinking that Fox News koolaid, silly you!

          • Alvaro says:

            Steve’s Thumbnail picture is a dog.

            Dogs need masters and are faithful to their masters no matter what.

            Sometimes life is too poetic….

          • Steve P says:

            Your thumbnail picture is a blank. Mine is a happy pet. Life is poetic and a picture is worth…well, you know.

          • Max Grimm says:

            Bit of an un-American breed though 😉

          • Petros Linardos says:

            Finally: I wholeheartedly agree with Steve P on something. Yes, life is poetic. Or, at least, we try to make it poetic.

        • Dr Finlay says:

          Trump was too busy having his daily “Monkey gland” injections to keep his Barnet in order. I gather he also takes medication for erectile dysfunction.

          • Sue says:

            That’s an appalling comment to make about your President and it puts you no higher on the morality scale than the man you so despise. Look into your own heart to find the wellspring of hatred and contempt; you might find it is this which allows you to see the evil so readily in others. I’m not American; I didn’t vote for Trump but on behalf of your nation I wish him and you all well.

          • John Borstlap says:

            My fly on the wall in Washington says the side effects of the many pills make T’s ties sag.

      • AMetFan says:

        I wouldn’t poll the other 19, then…

      • John says:

        I think many of us in my neighborhood here in the USA view Angela Merkel as the new leader of the free world given that Trump has shown no real desire to lead, but only to go his own way as a self-interested nationalist thug who has no concept of what the free world even means, let alone the importance of being any part of that.

        • Sue says:

          The comments about a free Europe remind me of Edith Wharton’s famous observation in “The Age of Innocence”….”Newland realized it was futile trying to explain freedom to a woman who had absolutely no idea that she was not free”.

          • Anon says:

            Your mind is stuck in the past and it will probably die like that. Sad.

          • John Borstlap says:

            But people in Europe are absolutely free, in all respects. They are even totally free to crumble in poverty, and to be excluded from society for irrational reasons like race or religion or culture, one of them being that everybody is free but some people are more free than others. And especially the arts are free, state surveillance makes sure that it remains as such.

      • Anon says:

        Trump is NOT the leader of the free world. Nobody is taking him or that country serious in that role anymore. Those days are long over.
        He is commander in chief of the biggest military of the world. Decisive difference.

  • John Dalkas says:

    Video of concert showing Trump seated next to Macron and other leaders nearby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J31QbNDc6to

    Also http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-g20-music-20170708-story.html

  • Olassus says:

    The other interesting thing was what happened at the end. The concertmaster, and hence the orchestra, chorus, and even the soloists, remained, as instructed, seated for ten (10) full minutes, presumably so the powers-that-shouldn’t-be and their retinues could mosey out the lobby without security concerns.

    After a few of these 10 minutes, many in the audience disobeyed. But the musicians were held tight — except for one, Christiane Karg, Germany’s answer to Kathleen Battle, in red. She apparently either needed a pit-stop or lost her temper after 7 minutes, and stormed out, receiving her own private round of applause.

  • Marshall says:

    Trump derangement syndrome run wild. Did any of you consider that the inability to accept the person who now holds the office, to accept elections, even if you disagree with them, is far more dangerous than Trump, in your worst fantasies could ever be?

    From what I saw he wasn’t late, but possibly it had something to do with the maniac protesters who created delays throughout the conference. Other than having a good time, I never understood what they were for? Shouldn’t you be for something? One thing for sure since this is ostensibly a “classical”
    music board-we’d be the first eliminated-high culture is the heart of the enemy. Anyway,haven’t we tried enough of those systems imposed from above in the last century, for the good of all, to cure us of all that?

    • Petros Linardos says:

      I believe Trump’s detractors question his credibility and competence, not the legitimacy of his victory in the US presidential election. But to keep things in perspective, Trump himself questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama in a series of delusional or outright dishonest and manipulative statements.


      “I have some real doubts,” Trump told the “Today” show. He claimed to have sent his own investigators to Hawaii, where Obama was born. “I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding.”

      What on earth did his “investigators” find unbelievable in Hawaii? If his team discovered unbelievable facts, wasn’t it his duty to let the truth shine?

      That old story is just the tip of the iceberg. Sorry, I can’t take him seriously.

      • Sue says:

        As an Australian I found that questioning of Obama’s birth certificate thing downright bizarre. Unedifying and embarrassing are the best terms I can put to it. But the people voted for the man who questioned this! I don’t hold an opinion on Trump’s presidency as I’m not American and don’t have to live with any of it, but I do like to pick up on things I consider unfair. He didn’t seem to embarrass himself or the USA in that great speech about defending civilization which he made in Poland. That was cool. And when Obama was in Australia he hectored us, during the G20, about our bad environmental policies which he claimed were destroyed the Barrier Reef. We all thought it was arrogant and rude, to be honest, as we were the hosts of the ‘party’.

      • Marshall says:

        It’s telling that you use word “believe”-so you don’t know! The essential challenge-in fact- is overturning Trump’s presidency largely based on the unproven Russian- Trump campaign connection. (or as the virulently anti-Trump CNN in secret tapes refers to as a big “nothing burger”, but they’ll keep using it anyway) But if that doesn’t work they’ll try anything else to prematurely end the presidency, rather than find some new, decent , young candidates who understood the Trump message to the non-elites of America and soundly defeat him next time around.

        As Alan Dershowitz, the legal scholar, liberal and no friend of Trump has said-“don’t try to make crimes out of political differences” -that is the true route to tyranny. Dershowitz has been blasted for trying to be reasonable, to say when the investigations of Trump are legally questionable, and state essential principles of governance-but his warnings are sound.

        So your point is that Trump’s birther doubts-said as a private citizen, some years ago, tasteless that they may have been, says it all about the state of the world today. If I recall Obama served his two complete terms.

        • Sue says:

          And another ‘true test to tyranny’ is trying to ascribe mental illness to a leader; next thing they’re carted off to the gulag. Caveat emptor.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    There is plenty to bash Trump about, definitely more than even Peter Gelb, but did he really turn up late? The Sueddeutsche report tells a different story.

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    From a musical criticism perspective, how was the performance? I have not seen a review yet.

  • Alfred says:

    Incongruous, shocking and aabsrd. Can’t say I’m a fan of “Bild”, but this video hits pretty hard. I daresay Hamburg has seen Beethoven’s 9th sparkling away in dark times to the ears of dirtier leaders. But nevertheless this speaks volumes: