Maestro stays: Hamburg will hear Kent Nagano until 2025

Maestro stays: Hamburg will hear Kent Nagano until 2025


norman lebrecht

October 04, 2017

The US conductor has extended his Generalmusikdirektor contract by another six years.

Nagano is 65. Intendant Georges Delnon has also been renewed.

Hamburg is unadventurous.



  • Boris says:

    Kent makes sound(s)?!? ­čśë

  • Sanity says:

    He’s only been there two years! It’s not unreasonable for a conductor of that quality to sign a second five year contract at this stage in his first.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Nagano is not alone.

  • Bruce says:

    Maybe they like him.

    As for the idea that they could do “better,” maybe they think they’re doing just fine. We all know plenty of “boring” people who are not boring to their friends & family.

  • Respect says:

    Nagano is a very high level opera conductor, this is his primary function in Hamburg. Why wouldn’t Hamburg be thrilled at having a maestro of this level? Particularly after Simone Young and Hans Zender?

  • Olassus says:

    A little too sensitive, are we not?

    All Norman said was, “Hamburg is unadventurous.” Could have been referring to making no change.

    I would say, “Hamburg is stupid” — to have hired the hack Nagano in the first place.

    So now Hamburg has years of Nagano and Gilbert. Eeeeesh!

  • J. says:

    He refused to take pictures with

    When conductors take pictures with him, Norman is nice (see: Dudamel, Gergiev). But when they refuse, oh boy.

    Enjoy this comment until Dailebrecht Mail deletes it.

  • fierywoman says:

    Unlike most of you, I have actually played under Nagano many times. Hamburg, das ist aber schade!

    • Hugh Jaarsz says:

      That must have been uncomfortable.

      • fierywoman says:

        It was a horror show. It was so wrong. But at the time I needed the money. I’ve played opera under Giulini (Falstaff), Sinopoli (Parsifal with Jerusalem and Meier and the cast of Bayreuth — but not at Bayreuth!), Bartoletti (Trittico) etc.

  • harold braun says:

    Ask any orchestra musician who has played opera under him….hehe…..!

  • Ben says:

    “Hamburg is unadventurous” could mean “Hamburg is unadventurous that they didn’t go hire a female music director”.

  • Sue says:

    “Carlos Kleiber not a great conductor”.

  • May says:

    Norman, I couldn’t agree more. Ask the musicians in the Phil what they think about his extending and eyes roll almost out of their sockets. Quite frankly, the current Culture Senator is new in his position and doesn’t have the balls to dump Nagano and Delnon. Any conductor, including a trained seal with a baton in its mouth, would have sold out the Philharmonic season, as people are desperate to get a ticket to see anything in the new Elbphilharmonie. Nagano is long in decay (some would say he was never very musical) and will be so past his prime by the time his tenure is over. Somehow Hamburg seems to be won over by his empty platitudes about “classic is for everybody” and doesn’t notice how boring his concerts are, not to mention the increasing problems of ensemble. As for the latter, there have been many train wrecks between staging and orchestra, which never happened under Simone Young, say what you may about her interpretations.
    Delnon should not even be allowed to fulfil his current contract. Ticket sales are down 7%, which means thousands of tickets are simply not being sold. His taste in staging directors is just abysmal and slowly he is running out of guest-productions that he can import from Basel.
    Poor Hamburg: at least the Americans will only have to put up with Trump for another three years. We have to endure Nagano for another seven ­čÖü

  • Anon says:

    Probably after the financial and acoustical Elbphilharmonie disaster, the people in Hamburg feel in deed not so adventurous anymore. The risks they took were not really crowned by success.

  • Hermann Lederer says:

    How sad for Hamburg! In Munich the orchestra celebrates since he is gone and in Hamburg even the worst enemies of Simone Young start to wish her back. She has one triumph after the other in Vienna, Munich, Berlin and Dresden and Hamburg has KN at least until 2025. Nobody else wanted him….

    • Sue says:

      I’m Australian; can you tell me about Simone Young’s ‘enemies’? We have heard nothing of this.

      • Rerespect says:

        She has them everywhere, she was released from contracts at the Metropolitan Opera after orchestra complaints.

        • Hermann Lederer says:

          Oh! She had always a lot if them. Despite her enormous abilities she is really not ÔÇ×easy goingÔÇť – and this is what many orchestras today expect. She has the knowledge and ability of the old German Kapellmeister but also a little bit the attitude. I am not blaming her for this, but this was always for what she was admired and – yes – sometimes hated for…

        • Anon says:

          Orchestra complaints of which nature precisely? Attitude or musicianship?

          • Respect says:

            Technical inability to control ensemble in Puccini and Cav/Pag. Obviously, not the repertory one associated with her career, but its what the Met hired her for.

            Look, not every conductor who can conduct Moses und Aron well is the ideal candidate for verismo. I only heard from players that she could not accompany rubato, but did hear from a highly respected German conductor that she had “superb rhythmic control”. Who knows? But Nagano’s commitment to 20th century opera is admirable.

      • Hermann Lederer says:

        Oh! She had always a lot if them. Despite her enormous abilities she is really not ÔÇ×easy goingÔÇť – and this is what many orchestras today expect. She has the knowledge and ability of the old German Kapellmeister but also a little bit the attitude. I am not blaming her for this, but this was always for what she was admired and – yes – sometimes hated for…

        • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

          What and where is bitte the proof of her “enormous abilities”? I have her Bruckner cycle released by Oehms. I bought it because it is one of the few Bruckner cycles on SACD. But to be honest, this set is clearly one of the worst in the history. The music under her baton has no soul.

          I also saw both her and Zubin Mehta conducting Fidelio, same opera house same production. However, the difference was huge. Yes, she is even worse than Mehta!

          A year or two ago, she replaced Kirill Petrenko for some Walk├╝re performances, because maybe KP couldn’t be bothered to repeat the same Walk├╝re production so many times within such a short period. And what was the result? The disappointment among the ticket holders was so huge that you can even see complaints in the opera house’s forum.

          Without a diversity program, I don’t think she would even have a chance to conduct the State Opera of Hombug

          • Hermann Lederer says:

            Hmmm..the disappointment among ticket holders was obviously the reason why she had at the Walk├╝re I heard ovations after every intermission and the biggest success at the end.
            And the diversity program is definitely the reason why she conducts in houses like Vienna, Munich, Berlin and other since 25 years.
            Sorry but this is ridiculous!

          • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

            I didn’t deny the fact that she has true and faithful fans and supporters! And the number of such people might not be neglectable.

            However, we are talking about the quality of music making here, not the number of “Likes”! I bet you also heard the Walk├╝re by Kirill Petrenko in that house. If you think Simone Young was anywhere near him, then there is no need of any further discussion …

          • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

            The audience might just be thankful to her kindness and willingness to take over upon such a short notice. As far as I could remember, there was no official explanation of why KP was not able to conduct those performances.

            I don’t think you would go so far to claim that the audience was happy to see Simone Young instead of Kirill Petrenko, right?

  • Anton Bruckner says:

    Don’t you think that the ferocious attacks against KN are somewhat exagerated? NL planted the seeds in his post clearly for triggering such ferocious comments. The extreme nature of the comments shows they lack credibility. Anyhow, KN had a wonderful Mahler 7 with the IPO few years ago.

    • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

      You may like his Bruckner, too. Check out his Harmonia Mundi recordings with DSO Berlin, which are wonderfully played and recorded.

  • Rgiarola says:

    As south park once said: “let’s blame Canada” … perhaps Sony too

  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    I didn’t see Kent Nagano conduct very often because he only comes once or twice a year. The last few concerts I attended had the following programs:

    + Messiaen: ├ëclairs sur l’au-del├á
    + Messiaen: La transfiguration de Notre Seigneur J├ęsus-Christ
    + Some mixed pieces by Guillaume de Machaut & Bach
    + Rihm: Tutuguri
    + Wagner: Karfreitagszauber from Parsifal / Stravinsky: Symphonie de Psaumes / Bruckner: Messe Nr.3
    + B.A.Zimmermann & Bruckner 9

    If this is unadventurous, then I really don’t know what can be called adventurous, especially when we compare his repertoire to those of other mainstream star conductors. You don’t have to be a fan of post-war modernism to pay respect of this adventurous man, right? I don’t like modern music either, but those Messiaen concerts were simply overwhelming. The hall was full and Nagano was “st├╝rmisch gefeiert” by the audience. So apparently I was not the only one who was hugely impressed.

    Please take a look at the list of his opera recordings:

    + Honegger & Ibert: L’Aiglon
    + Messiaen: Saint Francois D’Assise
    + Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmelites
    + Schreker: Die Gezeichneten
    + John Adams:The Death Of Klinghoffer
    + Debussy: Rodrigue et Chim├Ęne
    + Britten: Billy Budd
    + Hindemith: Cardillac

    The list goes on and on … If someone with such an impressive track record of music making can be described as “having no talent and musicality”, then please show me someone who has and what he/she have done. Again, you don’t have to like these pieces to give some credit and respect to his work, right? Kent Nagano is clearly someone who have been making some real efforts to contribute to a sustainable development of classical music. I can well imagine if a female or black conductor can do half as good as Kent Nagano, she/he will be praised to heaven and proclaimed as the new Messiah here.

    BTW, he is also pretty good in standard repertoire, especially during his tenure in DSO Berlin. When I first heard his Bruckner on Harmonia Mundi, I knew neither him nor the orchestra. But that Bruckner 6 was totally convincing. Just check out his Bruckner 3 & 6 on Harmonia Mundi and the 8 on DVD (1890 version, not the newer 1887 he made with Bayerisches Staatsorchester).

    All the Nagano bashers here are just bitter and jealous.

  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    Ulrich Eckhardt, the intendant of Berliner Festspiele from 1973 to 2001, had been searching someone to perform Arnold Sch├Ânberg’s unfinished oratorio Die Jakobsleiter for a long time. Sch├Ânberg was the central figure of the Berliner Festspiele in 1974 (his 100th birthday) and 1988 ( in a double portrait with Brahms). However, he couldn’t find anyone who had the guts to tackle this difficult and tricky piece, until Kent Nagano did it in the opening concert of DSO Berlin’s 2001/12 season. That concert on 10. September was also the inaugural concert for the Jewish Museum in Berlin designed by Daniel Libeskind. Two weeks later, he combined Sch├Ânberg’s Erwartung with Bruckner 9. In the same season, despite all the difficulties as a result of 9/11, he insisted to perform Moses und Aron with the DSO in Los Angles.

    My goodness, it seems that this man has not been treating the Jews too bad. Why the media is so mean to him?

  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    Kent Nagano’s early appearances on Salzburger Festspiele:

    1998 – Messiaen: Saint Francois DÔÇÖAssise
    1999 – Busoni: Doktor Faust
    2000 – Saariaho: L’amour de loin (world premi├Ęre)
    2002 – Zemlinsky: K├Ânig Kandaules

    I didn’t attend any of these performances. Maybe they were all disastrous, as suggested by some of the commenters here in this tread? But why was he invited again and again?! Furthermore, before criticizing his quality, please first find someone who has the guts to take up these unthankful and dirty jobs of performing large scale modern opera.

  • Barry says:

    I saw Nagano conduct the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal at Carnegie Hall last year, I guess it was.

    I never paid that much attention to Nagano, and I thought this was an orchestra whose glory years were behind it.

    Boy was I wrong.

    All you “inside baseball” guys can make whatever niggling complaints you want. This is a real conductor.

  • Anton Bruckner says:

    These comments bashing KN and the NL post which unvited them are ridiculous. Especially when viewed together with admiring posts on Mirga GT of the Birmingham orchestra who is quite frankly a young conductor doing her first steps in rather main stream repertoire with some musical sensitivity but not much more. She is awe inspiring but KN (or SY) are nothing but useless conductors lacking musicality who are just aimlessly waving thier baton?? The truth is that each conductor has its strengths and weaknesses and tjat some of tne current stars (Mirga included) are extremely overrated.

  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    I already mentioned the surprisingly high quality of Kent Nagano’s Bruckner recordings with the DSO Berlin published by Harmonia Mundi. What I didn’t know until today was that he actually extensively discussed all the Bruckner symphonies in his repertoire with G├╝nter Wand! Their last conversation about Bruckner was concerning about the 3rd symphony, which G├╝nter Wand didn’t conduct in his late NDR years. Kent Nagano then performed this symphony with the NDR Sinfonieorchester in the Schleswig-Holstein Musikfestival on 06 July 2002, which served as the memorial concert for Wand who died in Feb. 2002.

    When you read Kent Nagano’s interview about Bruckner’s 3rd symphony, you can see he really put a lot of thought in the choice of version. His recording of the first (1873) version is clearly one of the best on the market.

    As Kent Nagano started to get in contact with G├╝nter Wand in the 90s, he was already a famous young conductor and made his name with French and contemporary repertoire. I mean, which rising stars nowadays would have such motivation of learning like him? I even doubt they would have time to talk to an elder mentor.

  • NotYourAverageListener says:

    Nagano might not be one of the great conductors, but the Hamburgisches Staats Orchester is not one of the great (Opera) orchestras either. And he is definitely much better than Metzmacher.