More trouble tomorrow in Paris

More trouble tomorrow in Paris


norman lebrecht

January 30, 2018

A broadcasting tribunal will decide tomorrow if Mathieu Gallet can keep his job as president of Radio France after being found guilty in a criminal court of showing favouritism in public office.

It’s not looking good.

If Gallet is fired, music and orchestras are weakened. If he stays, he’s a lame duck and the orchestras are weakened anyway. The Ministry of Culture is planning to merge the two broadcast orchestras in Paris, starting in December 2018, with the loss of more than 100 musicians’ jobs.

The Orchestre de Paris is reeling from Daniel Harding’s resignation, which takes effect in June. They won’t find a music director quickly. Leading talents and agencies are alarmed at the circumstances that led to Harding’s departure.

The whole orchestra scene in Paris is in turmoil. How will they fill that hall?


UPDATE: Gallet is fired.


  • herrera says:

    Don’t worry about filling the Philharmonie for the Orchestre de Paris, they always fill it, the opposite problem is true, it’s impossible to get seats, if for no other reason than that the tickets are very affordable (read subsidized).

    No orchestra needs to rush to fill a MD position until it is convinced it has found the right one. Chicago waited 5 years, with Haitink as its caretaker, until it decided on Muti.

    Details on Harding?

    There will be no shortage of applicants for Paris and its new hall.

  • Pierre says:

    Is Harding resigning at the end of the season or at the end of his term (which is not the end of the season) ?
    Could we have more infos on the circumstances which triggered his departure ?

    • John Borstlap says:

      My fly on the wall informs me that he got very irritated that every time he had to be at the Philharmonie, he could not find the artist entrance. One time he got so fed-up that, after having rounded the building 5 times to get at his rehearsel, he went back to the hotel.

      • Db says:

        Finding the entrance is not difficult. Getting out, however, is much harder. Maybe that’s why he’s taking precautions.

      • Django says:

        Sounds exactly like something a person who has never worked in a professional orchestra would come up with. Either your fly is faulty or you are a terrible story inventor. Nope. In real life stuff like this just don’t happen.

  • BP says:

    Gallet is a classical music aficionado and has grown into a champion of the two orchestras during his term, so the whole situation is a bit of a shame. The fusion of the orchestras or elimination of one, however, is far from a settled thing and would likely trigger hard resistance.

    As for the Orchestre de Paris, they’ve had no problem filling the Philharmonie at low prices so I wouldn’t be too worried about that. Musically, on the other hand, they’ve really turned a corner the past couple of years, and I’m concerned the uncertainty and change might break the momentum.

    • BP says:

      Worth repeating as it’s a bit confusing : the two radio orchestras are the Orchestre National de France and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.
      The Orchestre de Paris is independent of them (and plays in the Philharmonie).

  • Alain Louy says:

    Erreur sur la photo.

  • Alvaro says:

    How?? Is there a law in Brussels that stipulates that the hall needs to present classical music? Plenty of room there to make something that actually appeals the growing diverse populations of Paris – isnt that why they made it in the outskirts of the city?

    Berlioz and Beethoven are cool, but so are other cultural offers. Europe has claimed a monopoly on the word “culture” for way too long, as if the expressions of other parts of the world did not merit similar appreciation.

    The hall will have no audience problems if those in charge are courageous and creative, two very rare characteristics in the arts industry in this day and age, I admit.

    As for the orchestras? there’s way too many. One could use 3 or 4 less in Paris, and about 40-50 less in Germany. There’s no reason to subsidize only one type of artistic expression in detriment of many others.

    • Suzanne says:

      In Germany all art forms are subsidised – music, theatre, dance, visual arts, film. Large organisations and small. Nationally, regionally, locally. This government support is anchored in the constitution (Grundgesetz). There is no need to claim that orchestral music is blocking access to other forms of the arts.
      Lots of other things are subsidised, too – in Nordrhein-Westphalen for example university students can use all public transport – buses, trams, trains – for free and take a friend with them for free on weekends. In all of Germany universities are tuition free. Anyone who has a child receives a monthly stipend to support that child, regardless of income – roughly 180 Euros a month per child from birth until the age of 18, longer if the child studies at university or learns a trade. Sports clubs that are non-profit are subsidised, speech therapy is subsidised, the list goes on and on…

    • John Borstlap says:

      “Europe has claimed a monopoly on the word “culture” for way too long, as if the expressions of other parts of the world did not merit similar appreciation.” Claimed a monopoly – where? Internationally? If so, how? If in non-European parts of the planet ‘culture’ is synonymous with Europe, it is the accolade given by those parts, there is nowhere an ‘European pressure’ to surrender to European culture.

      And then, European culture has to be central somewhere, and the most obvious location is Europe itself. And within Europe, European culture is not a ‘monopoly’, it is – more or less – central, and dominating, but there is enough space for cultures from other parts of the world. Suggested is, of course, that the centrality of European culture within Europe is somehow unfair or inappropriate, or that the international reputation of European culture is somehow undeserved. But the best of European culture belongs, in spite of all the trendy denial and the populist egalitarian world view, to the very best the human mind has ever been able to produce. And if one does not like it, one can always go to Patagonia, Pawnee Rock or Rotterdam.

    • Alexander Platt says:

      Perhaps those countries have a right to have their own cultural policies — after all, it’s their music. They’re not forcing it on anybody else. Anyone who comes to love this thing we call Classical Music does so of their own accord. If nation-states and their taxpayers feel that such an art form is of benefit to their communities, I don’t see why that’s such a problem for you.

    • Adrienne says:

      Yes, very cool, very right-on.

      It looks like an ideal venue for hip-hop.

      • Django says:

        Brussels? You mean to say is there a EU law?
        Are we still at the stage where different cultural heritages are separated by their geographic origins? Are not all Musical Arts à human language and expression? Are these not the riches belonging to all humanity, such as great paintings and littérature, rather than being considered as ‘regional’ based on their place of creation? The Chinese invented Paper and Gunpowder, but these inventions are considered ‘univeral’, rather than ‘Chinese’. Music should not have frontiers and boundaries. All music has its reason to exist, and humans are allowed to have preferences and varying tastes. I do agree that Classical Music is not the ‘only’ music worthy of attention and respect, but it does merit its place in our history and our lives today. Isn’t that why we are all here on this forum? By promoting and celebrating classical music, we are not depriving others from creating/performing/listening to any other style of music. Good music is good music. There should not be any judgement based on where it was created or who is learning it and listening.