Andris Nelsons to lead half of Boston’s concerts

Andris Nelsons to lead half of Boston’s concerts


norman lebrecht

March 22, 2018

The music director will be in charge of 14 out of 26 BSO subscription concerts next season, it was announced tonight.

Andris Nelsons will mark his fifth season as BSO Music Director with programming that spans a wide spectrum of musical styles, offering audiences singular interpretations of works from the orchestral canon, alongside music by fascinating figures of the 20 th and 21 st centuries, unique and innovative projects, and an extraordinary lineup of guest artists, including beloved favorites and talented newcomers bringing their own singular insights, inspirations, and discoveries to their performances with the orchestra. The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 138 th season will see Andris Nelsons leading fourteen of the year’s twenty-six subscription programs, including a world premiere by Sebastian Currier, US premieres by Latvian composer Andris Dzenītis and English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage, a new chapter of the Boston Symphony/Gewandhaus Orchestra Alliance, highlighted by a performance of Bach’s complete Christmas Oratorio, a concert-opera presentation of Puccini’s Suor Angelica, a continuation of the Grammy Award-winning Shostakovich recording and performance cycle with Symphonies Nos. 1 and 15, a rare performance of Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, orchestral works by Haydn, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, Mahler, Stravinsky, and Copland, and compelling collaborations with such highly acclaimed musicians as Bernarda Fink, Renée Fleming, Håkan Hardenberger, Erin Morley, Kristine Opolais, Daniil Trifonov, Violeta Urmana, and Yuja Wang.



  • Sue says:

    Great! And such a cutie too!!

  • Bruce says:

    When I lived in Boston in the late 80’s, Ozawa would typically conduct about 1/3 of the season.

    • Olassus says:

      Yeah, most of them (at the U.S. majors) have a 12-week clause. Muti in Chicago is unusual with a 10-week, and this Nelsons commitment, which may be a one-season blip, is unusually high.

  • Derek says:


    You have such a way with words, you smoothie!

    I would say Andris is an inspiring, passionate and dedicated musician as well as a sincere and genuinely warm person (but you covered it succinctly).

    • Sue says:

      I first saw him in the Musikverein in 2011 conducting the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. Since then I have followed his career with great enthusiasm.

      • Tommy says:

        If you follow him that closely, you should have noticed an alarming weight increase of late and considering his conducting technique back pain will come. I’d say a general.. hmmm… rough and tired look is evident. He seems to work so much that he is forgetting about taking care of himself. I say this with good intentions and I wish someone around him could tell him that he needs to shake up his priorities.

        He produces some really great recordings right now, like Brahms concertos with Grimaud and symphonies, Bruckner symphonies (my main way of experiencing him) and I want that to last very long. He is to my (limited) understanding the best orchestra conductor around at the moment but he is also on a dangerously unhealthy path.

        • Derek says:

          Andris is prone to go up and down in weight and that has happened a few times in the last 10 years.

          However, you are right in that he does need to manage his work wisely. He takes on so much, travels a lot and probably as a result eats and sleeps at strange hours.

          Last year he reduced his schedule and is not appearing with the Concertgebouw, Philharmonia or Cologne looking ahead. Nevertheless, he has full seasons with Boston & Leipzig Gewandhaus including various European, American and Asian tours. In addition, he is doing opera with ROH and last autumn did an extensive Asian tour with the Vienna Philharmonic.

          He has a very special talent and is in great demand but as you said, it is to be hoped that he is given good advice and is able to say “No” more often.

          • Simon says:

            I agree. As a big fan of Andris I hope he takes good care of himself, not only to work longer, but also to enjoy his life more.

  • phf655 says:

    Bernard Haitink has conducted the Boston Symphony in every season since 1995/96, but is not scheduled for 2018/19. He was Principal Guest Conductor during the undistinguished later years of Seiji Ozawa’s tenure, and more recently was named Conductor Emeritus. Nothing lasts forever, not even the music-making of the highest integrity that he has delivered to Boston audiences over many decades. Haitink turns 90 in March 2019. However, he is scheduled to conduct the Concertgebouw, Chicago Symphony and London Symphony next season.

    • Michael Chen says:

      I believe when it comes to Haitink, he is always given a Carte Blanche by BSO. They are happy to have him whenever he can come as a guest and conduct pieces he likes to do. However given his age and the hassle of cross Atlantic travel, there is only a very limited time window within which both the BSO and Haitink can work in their respective schedules. Haitink would prefer to squeeze all his US engagements into the same trip but that is often not possible for the orchestra to accommodate.

  • Jerome Hoberman says:

    It’s not 14 of 26 concerts, it’s 14 of 26 programs. Each program is given 3 or 4 times, with some played on tour in addition. So he’s conducting upwards of 50 BSO concerts next season.

  • Anon says:

    When does he study his scores? He doesn’t have enough time for that, or does he?

    • anon says:

      Who studies scores these days? You watch your favorite youtube video of the piece a few times, observe how the eminent conductor does it, listen to what he does, then you duplicate it for your performance, adding a few personal touches to make it your own.

  • Anonymous says:

    He’s so imaginative that he played Mahler 1 in Sept 2017 and Nov 2017. How many times do we have to hear the same two dozen pieces or so OVER AND OVER at the BSO? Do we HAVE to hear Tchaik 6 every year?

    • jim says:

      You might want to mention that when he conducted the Mahler in November it was because he was stepping in as a substitute for Christoph von Dohnányi who had to cancel. He played the Mahler in place of the Bartok, Janacek and Bach that von Dohnanyi had programmed. You might also want to mention that the two sets of concerts were performed for different subscription series. You might also want to mention that each concert had a different accompanying work on the program.

  • Anonymous says:

    Nelsons is another young conductor with much style but NO substance. Such a marketing creation.

    • Derek says:

      Your view is contrary to just about every musician that has worked with him.

      They find him inspiring, recognise his special talent and musicianship at once and love working with him. That is why so many orchestras want him and why the vast majority of audiences and listeners are moved by his performances.

      Listen to the to the musicians (they are professionals) and listen to the music!

      • Herr Doktor says:

        There’s a reason why such comments come from someone using the handle Anonymous.

        • anonymous says:

          Yes, because posting anonymously instantly makes their opinions invalid.

        • Anon says:

          Herr Doktor, your full name please, or your comment is invalid.

        • Derek says:

          Herr Doktor, I know what you mean.

          If you will allow me to elaborate –

          We know that NO conductor is liked by everybody. Each is entitled to his/her opinion and we don’t all think the same.

          If someone says they don’t like a conductor’s repertoire, don’t appreciate his/her interpretations, feels that tempos are wrong etc. or doesn’t like the conducting style (too much or too little action etc.) then they may have a valid reason.

          However, to use the “NO Substance – its marketing” argument is a cop out and holds no water. Marketing and hype may get some exposure and help launch a conductor but it will not SUSTAIN A CAREER. The orchestra members will soon find them out and audiences will soon realise that their performances have no real depth.

          In the case of Andris Nelsons, this is total nonsense when we consider the number of top international orchestras that invite him, the many award winning cd’s he has, and the wide acclaim that he receives from audiences and music lovers around the world.

          I know from your previous posts that you have a great deal of experience of the Boston Symphony and a degree of authority on a whole range of classical works and artists, so I respect your comments.

          I am afraid that I cannot say the same for “Anonymous” whose comment seems to come out of prejudice or mischief (and that applies whether posting anonymously or not!).

  • Rob says:

    I wouldn’t pay peanuts to see any concerts by this conductor. Haitink, yes. I have alot of time for Haitink.

    • Willi Philips says:

      Haitink? Oh my goodness. He’s the most over-recorded, overrated conductor of the present and last century besides Ormandy and Karajan. His are musical, literate, nicely nuanced readings which are emasculated to skin and bone (great for Strauss and Shostakovich, but few others), whose performances routinely fail to incandesce. Not one of his performances has made it to my short list, other than his 80s Also Sprach Zarathustra, which is fabulous. Sorry, I can’t agree with you on this one, despite the fact that he’s a fine man and a great teacher. I’d take a Nelsons interpretation before virtually anything by Haitink.

  • Alexander Platt says:

    This is great news from Nelsons — and as it should be. How wonderful for once, for a great American orchestra’s audience to have their MD conduct half of the programs these days.

  • Ralph Fisher says:

    Another jet setting hot shot doing the same ol’ same ol’. Great, he’s doing a “rare” performance of the Dvorak “Stabat Mater” and does Shostakovich. Big deal the is usual pablum of Beethoven , Tchaikovsky, blah, blah. And please don’t give me “Oh but he’s giving world premiers of so and so.” Everybody does that and then all those “premiers” die because they rarely get played again. Nelsons is no different than all the rest of these conductors that Americans choose over the myriad of exquisite local talent. For crying out loud New England Conservatory is across the street and I’m sure they are producing first rate conductors. I, for one, am sick of this American board of directors insisting on choosing non Americans for American orchestras. What’s the problem? Americans are adventurous. is the Board afraid that an American composer will perform American musis other than Copland and Bernstein?
    Nelsons has offered nothing truly interesting. The number of fascinating and wonderful composers that he and all the other “Big 5” American orchestra conductors who are ignored, and of whom audiences are therefore being deprived is sinful. We never hear works by Ralph Vaughn Willams, Florent Schmitt, Franz Schmidt, Charles V. Stanford, Eduard Lalo, Malcolm Williamson, Lili Boulanger. Ethel Smythe, Augusta Holmes, William Schumann, Walter Piston, Carl Ruggles, etc. these and countless others are (for all practical purposes) almost never heard. Why? Because, hot shot fly-by-nights like Nelsons don’t either have the time (because they’re too busy flitting between orchestras), or haven’t the balls to learn music beyond what they they learned in conducting class.
    Standard repertoire is the bane of classical music, and will be it’s complete relegation to the dust bin of American so-called culture.

  • Ralph Fisher says:

    Please forgive the misspellings and dropped words. I wrote this in in the heat of passion and forgot to proofread it before posting. It’s sensitive subject with me since Malcolm Williamson is one of those composers who, in spite of his personal life, was one of England and Australia’s greatest composers. No thanks to Mr. Lebrecht.