It’s official: Eschenbach gets retro Berlin

It’s official: Eschenbach gets retro Berlin


norman lebrecht

November 13, 2017

Christoph Eschenbach, 77, was installed this morning as chief conductor of Berlin’s Konzerthausorchester, succeeding Ivan Fischer.

When we first foretold the move, many regarded at as wierdly regressive.

He won’t come cheap, either. Eschy’s last Washington DC pay packet was close to $2.5 million a year.



  • Suzanne says:

    Yes, weirdly regressive. What a shame after Fischer’s bold programming and progressive ideas.

  • Dexter Trudeau says:

    Remind me not to buy any tickets, which would only support an ridiculous level of remuneration for someone who should have been pensioned off 15 years ago to give younger blood a chance. Who would want to watch the depicted figure in action anyway, unless as a practice session for necromancy?

  • Ben says:

    Why orchestra still hires this lad????? Have Eschenbach conduct an Mahler 3rd with them, and see if he would be invited back, let alone be their leader.

  • Rich C. says:

    Eschenbach? BOOOOOOOOOORING !!

  • Hanna Nahan says:

    Well that will make all Berlin’s other orchestras and Chief Conductors very happy! One less artistically-dynamic fish in a small pond…

    • John Borstlap says:

      The problem of the Konzerthaus Orchestra is its building…. which carries all the symbolism of classical music but has to operate in modern times: a reconstructed classicist hall which had been a theatre, with an interior newly designed in communist times, so the venue is associated with totalitarian annexation of music and classicism. It seems to be hard to turn it around and instead use the emanation and style of the building – which in itself is beautiful and has no responsibility of any political abberation – to its advantage: the living embodiment of atemporality of classical art.

      Léon Krier, the contemporary classicist architect and founding father of new urbanism, says of classical art – including classical music – that it is atemporal, like mathematics. Ivan Fischer had plans to use the building in relation to the orchestra’s music making, but somehow that did not work-out. (Maybe that has something to do with its artistic director, who is convinced that music should express the concerns of the era and society of its time, so: the classics played in such building are ‘compromised’.)

      Eschenbach is an excellent conductor. I clearly remember a fantastic concert with Schumann IV which took on a new meaning in his hands: a lively one and not stuffy as it often sounds.

      • Sue says:

        I agree about Eschenbach. I’ve seen him 2 or 3 times in Vienna and liked what I heard. He was also a fine pianist, if my aging memory serves me correctly. Conductors seem to live to a ripe old age – well, many of them. Not all, of course. I wonder what’s the secret?

        • Petros Linardos says:

          More than longevity, what fascinates me about long lived conductors is that many of them do memorable work in old age, sometimes even in frailty: Sanderling, Wand, Mackerras, Abbado, Skrowaczewski, to name just a few from the last two decades. Blomstedt is arguably the current reining omniscient nonagenarian.

  • ben dominitz says:

    This small-mined comments remind me why I loved music but decided not to live in the world of musicians. We are a cruel group respectful of no one who doesn’t fit our notion of how things should be. Regardless of what you think of Eschenbach, he is a very gifted musician, likely more gifted than his critics.

  • Thomasina says:

    But I think that he was chosen by the musicians?

  • Gillian says:

    It really doesn’t matter if Eschenbach is “a musician’s musician”, the fact is that this guy hasn’t been able to have a successful music directorship anywhere in the past fifteen years. It has been one failure after another and on top of it, and as someone here pointed out already earlier, he is supposed to be really into money and very greedy and got away with demanding an outrageous and inflated fee. I doubt though that he would ever get paid what he did in Washington or Philadelphia anymore. His price certainly has fallen along with his image. Let the poor guy be with his secondary Berlin orchestra and I wonder how the public will react to such boring and pretentious music making. I agree with others here that this was a very very weird choice to lead Berlin’s Konzerthausorchester. He isn’t getting any younger and his reputation and talent seems to have really fallen as he gets on in years. I find Eschenbach a very depressing and sad case.

  • Abcdefg says:

    All these comments about how awful Eschenbach is are so juvenile. Honestly, are any of you saying these things in a world’s top 20 orchestra? Or even any reputable orchestra forgrhat matter? Somehow I doubt it. Like him or dislike him, he is still one of the best in the business. He might not be your ideal choice from a creativity standpoint, or (as it seems to be about to many of you), an AGE standpoint, but he’s still got a lot to offer musically. Last time I checked, Eschenbach didn’t leave the National Symphony in shambles. They’re doing just fine. It’s an orchestra that has musical problems, but those go back further than Eschenbach. Are there better choices, perhaps there are. But really, how bad is it to have a passionate, first-rate musician with years of experience conducting the world’s best orchestras on your podium? The Konzerhausorchester could do far worse. And news flash: last time I checked, Rattle, Nelsons, Seguin, Dudamel, and Jansons weren’t breaking down their door. Disgusted by the lack of respect and admiration for Eschenbach.

  • MacroV says:

    Does anyone know that he’s going to command an unusually hefty salary, or is that just an assumption? Nobody is putting a gun to the orchestra management’s head to pay more than they can/want, no matter what Eschenbach might want. Maybe they’re not as foolish as his previous orchestras.

    I must say that while I don’t doubt his critics, I’ve seen Eschenbach conduct twice, and both concerts were great, including a terrific Bluebeard with the NSO.

  • RW2013 says:

    He will be the only German chief conductor of the eight Berlin orchestras.
    Just for the statistics.

  • Peregrin Montague says:

    Aside of General Musikdirektor Planet Earth Barenboim and Petrenko, who are the others!

  • says:

    He’s an amazing conductor and what I’ve always considered one with quite a modern take on things. He was just at the SWR in Stuttgart with the most amazing Bruckner 7 and very sophisticated and stylish Mozart on the first half. Heard the musicians love him too.