Charles Dutoit: A Philadelphia statement

Charles Dutoit: A Philadelphia statement


norman lebrecht

December 23, 2017

(Philadelphia, December 22, 2017)—Effective immediately, The Philadelphia Orchestra Association has discontinued its affiliation with Charles Dutoit and removed his honorary title of Conductor Laureate. The Association does not tolerate harassment of any kind and is committed to providing a safe, supportive, and respectful work environment. We encourage anyone in our organization who has experienced inappropriate conduct of any type to come forward, and we will respond with the utmost seriousness and sensitivity.

Earlier, former Philadelphia Orchestra president Joe Kluger told AP that Dutoit’s ‘extremely flirtatious’ reputation was a factor in causing the organization to pass him over twice for the job of music director.

He said: ‘I do recall telling our staff to be wary around him and encouraged them to report any inappropriate behavior immediately.’


  • Rgiarola says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, did you see the majority reaction of the comments in Facebook ? Philadelphia Orchestra did justice without any proper legal process. A bunch of cowboys doing justice with their own hands. No investigation, no right of answer, no impartial judgment etc. The same incompetent people that fond their way to chapter 7 or even 11 some years ago. It’s seems Philadelphia Orchestra has “more vulgar” than the inverse.

    • MacroV says:

      The Philadelphia Orchestra has every right to do business (or not do business) with anyone it chooses, for any reason. They don’t need to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt in a court. It does appear that they were aware of Dutoit’s behavior – if not the extent – for some time, given that two music directors ago was Eschenbach about 15 years ago (or maybe he meant Sawallisch 25 years ago).

      • Rgiarola says:

        Good Macrov! Next time Philadelphia Orchestra will be on chapter 7/11 no one will need to care about their name, their brand, if they are really guilty about the bankruptcy, or if they are just victim of the times. Next time let’s do business accordind to you, and do not let then defend thenself. Let’s just f* them all.

        Also according to you Mr. Macrov (and Madoff) f* off the law, and the proper legal process if the “business” is the word of the mouth.

        The need for “rem judicatum” is bullshit now for people like Mr. Macrov. Spanish inquisition is back!

      • naxos41 . says:

        Philadelphia knows him very well, as he was the music director of their summer programs at the Mann Center and Saratoga Springs from 1990 to 2010. What Joe Kluger meant is most likely that he was passed at years 2003, when Eschenbach was hired, and then 2008, when they actually hired Dutoit as the Chief Conductor while leaving the music director position empty.

    • Andreas Scholl says:

      I assume that there is an existing contract between the orchestra and the maestro. If he violates the terms of this contract he will be fired. Is that anything unusual in the business world? In case he would have been repeatedly late for rehearsals and missed concerts, would that needed to be proven “beyond reasonable doubt” in a court of law before he could be fired? So if sexually inappropriate behavior is somehow mentioned as a reason to terminate his contract, than that would be a reason to be fired.
      Men instinctively suspect that an accusation is dubious because it comes after many years. Not many women have the courage to speak up immediately when confronted with such a situation. These situations come first of all as a surprise; so they put the victim “off balance”. Reading about it later, puts us into the comfortable position to lean back in our chair and contemplate about how we would react or how we think that woman should have reacted. The surprise and shock element is something that no outsider will have to deal with. It is very clear that we (men) need to understand that our outside perspective is simply not how a woman feels in such a situation. We also need to understand how insulting it is to insinuate base motives behind coming forward with such a story. Maybe we can assume that a woman in her 30s can find the courage to tell a story that a 17 year old girl didn’t have yet.

    • harold braun says:


    • db says:

      My God, the nonsense I read here sometimes. “Do justice”. Did the orchestra put him in a private jail? Did they hire a hitman to murder him? They chose to break off professional relations, which they are completely entitled to do. It happens all the time and for much less important reasons. Get your stuff together please!

      • Barry says:

        The Orchestra has no choice but to look out for its reputation, as is the case with every other orchestra that has broken off all future engagements with Dutoit. As has been pointed out, this isn’t a court of law we’re talking about. There isn’t a mandatory beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard. If there were just one accusation with no witnesses, that would be one thing. But with multiple women all making the same claims, I don’t see what choice these Orchestras have.

        In the case of Philadelphia, I thought it was silly that Dutoit still had a title in the first place. He has only conducted one program with the Orchestra since being forced out in favor of Yannick in 2012. He clearly holds a grudge against the management for not giving him the Music Director job. There was no contractual relationship. It was just an honorary title that he ignored.

  • Jaime Herrera says:

    This is getting worse than the Spanish Inquisition. Yes, the allegations are probably true but it’s not a big deal, especially given that these women waited a hundred years to report anything. Perhaps they were even flattered by the attention at the time? So he is guilty – forgive and forget. He was simply being lecherous – nobody lost their life, their career, or their dignity.

    • Rgiarola says:

      Indeed Jaime. No one except Charles Dutoit and without any chance of defence. Philadelphia Orchestra acting as spanish imquision. Even Royal Philharmonic did not provide already a sentence plus penalty. I cannot believe that such larger than life institution in the past, since the end of W. Sawallisch ternure had been acting as rednecks

      • will says:

        Once again, ‘GUILTY UNTIL PROVED INNOCENT’! What kind of world are we living in, that doesn’t respect legal process? I do really think that Monsieur Dutoit should seriously consider suing his accusers so that hopefully the ‘truth’ can come out in a court of law.

        • MacroV says:

          The problem here is that these women have absolutely nothing to gain from coming forward if their allegations are false. Chances are they can be very precise on names/dates/places and other details. And six unconnected people make for a pretty credible case. People sometimes say “she did it for the money/publicity” but I can’t think of any woman who ultimately benefited from doing so.

          • Marc says:

            Well said Macrov! Chances are there are hundreds who dare not speak out because they feel unsupported. We need to change our culture and stop giving « Maestros «  so much power. They are not Gods, nor are they above the law yet they can make or brake careers.

        • The View from America says:

          “I do really think that Monsieur Dutoit should seriously consider suing his accusers so that hopefully the ‘truth’ can come out in a court of law.”

          Yeah — good luck with that.

        • Robert Holmén says:

          The Dutoits and Levines and O’Reillys and Weinsteins never sue because they know the people who have come forward so far are not the only ones out there who might have something damaging to say in court.

          Victims, corroborating witnesses, verifiable evidence like text messages…

          People on the fence about going public might decide to come off it.

        • BSO knew says:

          Macrov and Robert are spot on

      • harold braun says:

        Couldn´t agree more.It´s a climate like early 50s McCarthy era now,media carefully orchestrating another”case” from their little list every fortnight or so.

    • Lisa Simeone says:

      Jaime Herrera: Wow. Hard to believe anyone could be so clueless. But obviously you are. I’d like to think your comment is satire. Alas.

    • Bruce says:

      Jaime — if, in the future, your daughter at the age of, say, 35 says “I never told you this before, but in high school my history teacher groped me after class,” that you show her more compassion and understanding than you show here.

      (But she may never say anything if she knows what kind of person you are)

    • Herr Doktor says:

      Jaime Herrera’s statement (and similar statements on other subjects from certain specific visitors who make their boorish, antiquated opinions known over and over and over again), makes it amply clear that a real understanding and love of classical music does not necessarily make one a better human being. (Certainly the Nazis burst that bubble a long time ago, but there are plenty of people who still believe this.)

      Sadly, there are plenty of neanderthals who know and love classical music.

      As for Dutoit, I think he’s going to have a lot of time on his hands, and perhaps he will be spending a lot more time in Asia since he won’t be conducting orchestras in the U.S. or Europe. I may have missed it, but I haven’t heard that Japanese orchestras are separating themselves from him. Maybe that will come. Or maybe this is just not going to be an issue in Japan.

      • naxos41 . says:

        The NHK symphony in Tokyo released the statement saying that they are shocked and take the allegation seriously. Dutoit’s next engagement in Tokyo is next December, for which they will later announce the decision they deem appropriate.

    • buschtrommel says:

      No, absolute wrong perspective! Every simple janitor would immediately fired or internal transferred to a field where he doesn’t meet the persons which incriminate him toe protect them before him. But tell me, where should an incriminated conductor be internal transferred? He stands in the centre of public and artistic awareness. And as you see in the statement of Joe Kluger from the Phyllies the misbehaviour of Mr. Dutoit was very well known. So the only way is now to cancel the next performances with him when internal secrets are coming to the light. This bewares the victims, the institution and last but least also him before bigger public damage. The fact that his sexual harassments where decades-long tolerated does not mean that there could comes a day where the tolerance for that is over and out. And today this tolerance is over and out! His behaving was false from the first moment. Also the tolerance and the silence of the music business was all time wrong. But this doesn’t protect him before his own mistakes and doesn’t excuse them – it makes them only more understandable. To avoid more damage it is very useful to cancel his future jobs. And what is the reason: not his political view as it would be have happened in the McCarthy era. No, it is not-excusable sexual misbehaviour where you breakthrough the dignity of corporal self determination of the injured individual. And because such potential crimes are so intimidating you have to protect your institution, the victims and the alleged offender before each other long before a trials starts. Also in countries where institutions can’t be prosecuted with high financial penalties if they don’t seperate victim and offender you are acting in this way before the case comes to court. Not so long far away you could for example in Germany handle sexual harassment in the job only with professional consequences as internal transferring, warning or firing. Now you can bring sexual harassment in the job to the court and still in advance of this step end the employment of the offender. So the orchestras do the right thing. Only that they act now so late, too late, that is their big mistake! In this sense: merry Christmas to all and more early than to late decisions!

  • Tom Moore says:

    flirtatious is not the right word.

  • Esteban Creswell says:

    Today after Starbucks, a drunken, homeless man propositioned my younger sister from the sidewalk outside, as we were walking away. She was not flattered by the “simply lecherous” attention, but could easily ignore it. If my sister were employed at an entry level in the Philadelphia Orchestra offices, it would be a big deal to her (and to me) if the conductor laureate similarly propositioned her, drunk or not. She perhaps would have to make a choice, on the spot, between her career and her dignity–tender and young her first job at the age of 19, but with the goal of becoming a Deborah Borda or Simon Woods eventually. Damaged goods, released from the Philly Orchestra, having to restart–surely this could derail a life quite simply.

  • buschtrommel says:

    Urgh, I confess that a trial before a court would be better than all this ostentations in the press and web. I think that a lot of now old persons in leading functions – here in the cultural sector – exaggerated their sexual and their leadership concerning misbehaviour. Some of them belong more or less to the 68-generation which dethroned their parental predecessors. That happened also in the musical life. The moral and cultural mistakes of the ww2-fathers were also mostly a subject for press and social tribunals. Now the end of exactly this father-dethroning-generations is near, yes, they are mostly a generation older than their own dethroned-predecessors. The 68ties dethroned, now their successors bring them in direction of the jail. Or, if the crimes/assaults are time-barred, it comes to press and social media. I think being an artist or administrative person in leading position you should separate private and public life. That means your subordinates are not the material for your sexual life or a sort of “fresh meat bonus” as we say in German. And artistic liberty should not mixed up with sexual liberty. Often persons are arguing that “great art” needs “big private liberty”. If this liberty is mutual – ok, for example as between Wagner and Mrs Wesendonck. But if you think for Brahms, Bruckner, Beethoven: probably we do not know much about their sexual life. But what we know: they were more or less sexual reluctant, but composed without doubt “great art”. Sorry for my long words. But let us be more german direct and not too much english-polite and waiting for trials we will never witness: Herr Dutoit, dass (Ihre Untaten) hätten Sie sich vorher mal überlegen können – Mr Dutoit that (your misbehaviour) you could have reflected much before! Sad that we read about before trials. But fate is here without mercy! And this is ok. Conductors should conduct and not misconduct…

    • torinese says:

      It sounds as though Dutoit was pretty egregious, and he’s known to have behaved like a jerk with musicians in rehearsal as well, but it’s STILL a problem to take career-ending measures before there is some kind of formal investigation/adjudication. Why? Because for every conductor (or other type of “boss”) who felt entitled to make crude and obviously inappropriate advances, there will be another who made merely “bold” advances that were not so physically invasive, and another after that who simply engaged in flirting that most people would not find gross, and so on down the line – and yet it’s always possible that *some* recipient of said advances or flirting might see them in a worse light. One can get into gray areas very fast, and I suspect we will if we haven’t already, however obvious the case of Dutoit may be.

      True, employment decisions are not the same as legal proceedings – but we are seeing extremely harsh punishment meted out, and so the question of whether the punished party deserves her or his fate carries some moral burden. The whole point of “due process” is that you apply it *even to those who seem obviously guilty.* Not to protect them from punishment (due process is supposed to *find them guilty* and impose their punishment), but because others – the ones who might fall into “gray areas” or even be totally innocent – deserve to know that a system is in place to reach judgments by some standard other than media-fueled panic. See, for instance, the case of Joseph Colaneri, whose accuser in turn stands credibly accused of multiple instances of stalking, lying, and other bad behavior (some of it really lurid and damaging). Though the institutions that know Colaneri best are standing behind them, there are or were others seeking summary cancellation of contracts. So he has already been harmed psychically in a far from trivial way, and it’s still unclear whether he will escape further harm or not.

      The point is – quickie back-and-forth in the press and on social media, in an atmosphere of “off with their heads,” is NOT the way to settle those questions. If Dutoit did what has been alleged (and I don’t doubt it), then *let him pay the price* – but let it be a price decided in calm deliberation and after a chance for his defense, if any, to be heard. To say we should be fair and open-minded “except to the guilty” is to say nothing at all, or nothing worthy of respect.

      • harold braun says:

        Fair assessment.

      • Mallory says:

        Very nicely said, Torinese.
        Ah, the price, indeed the price. Even after, for the sake of argument, Dutoit and Levine are found to be definitively guilty as charged, what then? When does it descend to the level of cutting off our nose to spite our face as a society? I for one would miss their musical voices, were they to be permanently silenced.

      • db says:

        Well, I don’t think we need to worry about the career perspectives of an 81-year old who probably has the means to spend the rest of his days in utmost luxury. That aside, the limits between friendly, “flirtatious” conduct and downright harassment are not as vague as you imply them to be: the areas of the body which one is not supposed to touch are well defined; the difference between showing interest in someone and forcing yourself physically onto them seems quite clear to me; and insistant behaviour in spite of a repeated “no” is the very definition of harassment. And this conduct becomes much less excusable in a professional situation where a person has some kind of power over the other.

        Anyway, it’s simply a question of respect. Dutoit and others seemingly have very little for the people they work with.

        • torinese says:

          DB, I would like to think you’re right, but if you could write a concise statement of those boundaries that you consider not so vague, you’d be accomplishing something that has eluded the community of people trying to deal with this as they write employee codes of conduct, laws, campus regulations, etc. We have to try – but very few attempts meet with widespread consensus, and none are free of ambiguity – which is exactly why careful thought is required and precipitous responses are problematic when dealing with violations.

          It’s easy at the extremes (right, an unprovoked grab at the body part the president bragged about grabbing is assault, plain and simple). Past that, though, sooner or later you will come to gray areas. You HAVE to, unless you are ready to forbid outright the mere intent of suggesting, enquiring about, or signaling erotic interest. If any such behavior is acceptable, then wherever you fix its limit, that’s where you’ll have placed your gray area. And even after the clearest standards are agreed on, you would still have actions that are considered acceptable as “step two” of a successful flirtation, but taking place between parties whose recollections genuinely differ as to whether “step one” had been rejected.

          In other words, sex is complicated terrain, and dealing with it simplistically is rarely a wise course. Again – none of this is to excuse egregious offenders, and right now it seems the exposés are focusing MOSTLY on the egregious cases. But by settling them on the basis of execution without trial, we put ourselves in a terrible position for dealing with the harder-to-judge cases that will follow. And by publishing names of the accused but not of the accuser, we open the door to the kind of libel that at least one conductor seems already to have suffered. This was handled correctly in the early exposures of Weinstein, Roy Moore and James Levine (carefully sourced articles and accusers willing to go on record), but it has gone downhill fast, and not just in the arts pages. Accusers who need to remain anonymous should go to law enforcement, not to the press, and the press should control its appetite for scandal.

      • Rgiarola says:


        Different from a certain limited vision person here, that believes people like Jaime Herrera and other insistent boring ones are defending Mr. Dutoit. Torinese got the real point. It is not about any specific person, it is about the whole system.

        However I can see that some people don’t think the punishiment so hard. Dishonor? None of the other orchestras already condemned Dutoit. Even Royal Philarmonic just agree to suspend the next concerts until things could be investigates better. He is still music director. So why Philadelphia already took all honor? They say the orchestra management knew him for a long time, and got info enough to already apply a penalty. Why only now on 2017, just after accusation from well know people such Rasmussen and Mcnayr? If we can already judge Dutoit, why no one can conclude about the collusive behavior of the Philadelphia Orchestra management? Why they keep it in secret while they were honoring him with important titles.

        If you already thing Dutoit deserve such kind of penalties, but do not thing about the own orchestra management attitude along the time, you are just been hypocritical.

  • Michael Dart says:

    My feeling is that the main idea behind all that is to disconnect people and criminalize human physical relations. Attacking libido and Eros is just one way to do it.
    Ok. To keep Levine’s story secret for such a long period is still a mystery. We all knew about it. But now the subject is not pedophily anymore. Adults privacy is enough to start the fire. Other cases will emerge soon.
    Daniel Barenboim might be next on the list. Good luck guys…

    • harold braun says:

      Rumours about DB are legion.But he is untouchable…..

      • MacroV says:

        You may be right, but unless you actually have something to disclose, not cool to allude to rumors. Every case that has come up thus far – in the music biz or elsewhere – has involved actual people giving their names, and the dates/places of alleged incidents. If/when someone does that regarding DB, then is the time/place for further discussion.

        And I suspect he has enough powerful critics out there that he wouldn’t survive such disclosures any better than the others. Weinstein was pretty untouchable.

  • harold braun says:

    Hysterical,idiotic reaction.My 93 year old father,who suffered and lost work because of McCarthy,said to me yesterday,it reminds him of Mc Carthy´s days.You could be out of work and blacklisted because of any allegations any day,without any chance to clear yourself.Typically american,hysterical,hypocrite reaction.After living and working in Germany for 32 years now(mostly),at least i can say i can´t imagine actions like this here,and they have affordable healthcare.Don´t think i´ll return back home after my retirement.

    • Larry Dankel says:

      Speaking as an “hysterical hypocritical” american, Harold, you won’t be missed.

    • MacroV says:

      There’s nothing uniquely American about this. Accusers are coming from all over, and institutions outside the US are also reacting. I’m sorry for hardships your father suffered, but a key difference is that even if he had communist associations, that should not have disqualified him from anything – he had a right to free association. Sexually inappropriate behavior, OTOH, is generally a firaeable act.

    • Anon says:

      Harold, the US has you by the balls. You will have to go back, or get out if that citizenship. As soon as you retire you have to tax all your pension also in the US. No more excemption as you have now from labor income. They are the only country in the workd taxing their citizens that way. Well, what do you expect from a textbook plutocracy that gives freedom to the upper 1% and enslaves the rest. But how they make the rest believe the illusion, they also are free, that‘s pure genius in socioengineereing. My deepest respect.