Exclusive: Top-earning maestro quits IMG

Exclusive: Top-earning maestro quits IMG


norman lebrecht

November 16, 2017

We hear that Jaap Van Zweden has walked out on his manager, Nick Mathias at IMG Artists.

Nick had won the Dutchman a $5 million dollar package at Dallas, a lucrative contract in Hong Kong and now the high-profile role of music director of the New York Philharmonic.

But that was not good enough for Jaap.

What’s Dutch for gratitude?

And where’s IMG going to replace all that lost income?



  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    Well…. the Dutch word is ‘dankbaarheid’. But that’s what it is, just a word.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Not sure how anyone can live on $5 plus (minus 20% for management) these days.

  • herrera says:

    “What’s Dutch for gratitude?”

    20% paid in management fees to IMG.

    What more can agents ask for? A shout-out at the Oscars? “I’d like to thank my agent…”

  • Nick says:

    I am not sure Nick Matthias got JvZ the Hong Kong post. No doubt he negotiated the contract but I understand the previous MD Edo de Waart had strongly recommended him and he was on the Board’s radar quite some time before Matthias became involved. Since de Waart would have been on a pretty high remuneration, it can not have taken much of Matthias’ negotiating skills to realise the eventual salary.

    As for that $5 million from Dallas, it has been dealt with here in previous threads. It was an amount provided to the orchestra by a private donor specifically to ensure JvZ’s presence in Dallas over a longer term – even as Conductor Emeritus or some such title. And I’m not sure 20% is the going rate for commissions on basic salaries. Still, whatever its origins it is an obscene amount of money.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      No doubt a 5m compensation for a conductor is obscene. That said, was it a one-off or an annual salary?

      • Max Grimm says:

        It was a one-off.
        As ‘Nick’ correctly points out, the majority of the $5mio was a “signing bonus” gifted by an individual supporter of the orchestra to ensure van Zweden’s contract extension through the 2020-21 season (his title being “Conductor Laureate” starting with the 2018-19 season).
        His actual salary was $1.788.997 that year.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    The point is that while American orchestras are flailing and always crying to the orchestra that there is no money to pay the rank and file (staff and musicians), the conductors, soloists, and executive directors operate in another world that is filled with the finer things in life.

    So things are not really as bad as they would appear.

  • Watcher of the Skies says:

    Well this will hardly burnish his reputation for being a greedy megalomaniac, will it…!

  • Jamie Gustaffson says:

    How do we know what his Honk Honk contract was worth? Are those figures published like the US orchestras?

  • InsiderKnews says:

    I heard from an insider that DeWaart actually recommended against hiring Jaap. Believe what you will…

  • Hanna Nahan says:

    Really American career. Doesn’t work in Europe. All surface crash bang and no depth.

  • JMW says:

    There is no conductor in the world worth five million dollars. Not. One. Ever. Any orchestra actually willing to pay such ludicrous sums will get what it deserves, and great music-making won’t be a part of its return on investment.

    • Arthur says:

      Who are you to say this? I believe people who are at the top of their respective field deserves to be rewarded.

      • JMW says:

        Indeed, we all agree that people should be rewarded for fine work. However, there are limits to what reasonable compensation should be, particularly in an industry that suffers from persistent underfunding, bankruptcy and financial turmoil at established orchestras, and a resultant lack of opportunity for the available pool of gifted and accomplished performers. No single one is worth five million dollars, and that is inclusive of JvS. As to who I am, I’m no one special, though I have had a window seat in the business for quite a while. It is easy enough for you to find out, should you really care.

  • John Borstlap says:

    To compensate for all the morally-indignant grumbling about American over-generosity, it should be noted that JvZw has created an educational institution for autistic children and youngsters, where they are being prepared for (a difficult) life with all kinds of therapies, among which music therapy. A foundation was set-up, a big villa was bought, staff appointed among which specialist professionals in the field – an unique initiative in the Netherlands especially since it is an entirely privately-run institution in a country where this kind of provisions are run by the state and mostly rather low-key. The queen opened the building, which has all kinds of specialist provisions, on a festive day with covering on prime time TV news.

  • Lawrence Kershaw says:

    Hasn’t he just ‘moved’ to Nick Mathias’s ’boutique’ management?