Principal viola leaves the Berlin Philharmonic

Principal viola leaves the Berlin Philharmonic


norman lebrecht

May 10, 2018

The Hungarian soloist Máté Szűcs will succeed Nobko Imai in September as professor at the Conservatory of Geneva.

That leaves a vacancy for #1 viola in the Berlin Phil.



  • Deborah Mawer says:

    Be sure to hear his amazing CD ‘The Hungarian Viola’

    • Peter says:

      Yes, indeed! That’s a splendid CD; and Laszlo Weiner’s sonata has become a particular favorite of mine — it deserves to be much better known.

  • MacroV says:

    I often wonder whether an academic gig like this is really a step up from being a Berlin principal. I guess he thinks so. More time for solo and chamber music, anyway.

    • Max Grimm says:

      It is probably not a step up in terms of public prestige and adulation but in terms of time for ones personal life, development, other projects and interests, it definitely is.
      Szűcs had talked about possibly stepping down from his Berlin Phil position in the past, wanting to devote more time to his wife and young son (who, he says, did not manage to integrate in Berlin all that well), increase his teaching at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest (he is on teaching staff there and has talked about missing Hungary himself) and playing more chamber music.
      Wherever his path ends up leading, viel Glück und alles Gute, Herr Szűcs & Familie.

  • Martinu says:

    To my knowledge, there is another principal viola – Amichay Grosz. Previously in Jerusalem Quartet, and quite a good musician.

    • MacroV says:

      Yes. And surprisingly, they both play together a decent amount of the time, which isn’t really the norm with BPO principals (sometimes two of the three CMs will play together, never all three; never see the two principal cellists playing together).

      • Thomasina says:

        And for the double bass section, I have seen the two 1st. Principals and the Principal were in line, for example the concert with Nelsons in 2012.

  • Galeton Clouseau says:

    I suppose that doesn’t necessarily mean that it Szucs at the Berlin Phil?

  • Harold Wilkin says:

    Off topic, but why does the Berlin Phil regularly play with 7 instead of 8 basses when all of the other string sections play at full strength. I can’t believe that it is done as an economy measure.

    • Qwerty1234 says:

      Because they are arguably the most active, loud, and visually/musically present bass group of any great orchestra. I never found myself wanting more bass from them, even with “only” 7 basses.

      • Thomasina says:

        Indeed. Sometimes I think they look like a road construction team (maybe it’s the same in a sense?).

      • Rupert SWYER says:

        Listening to the BPO playing Beethoven’s 7th under Petrenko on the radio right now, and found myself wondering just how many basses there were. Only 7? Incredible they achieve such fantastic solid weight! Truly substantial.

    • Shalom Rackovsky says:

      To hear this bass section play in, for example, the Mahler 2nd or 7th, live- as we had the good fortune to do- is an absolutely unforgettable experience. I’ve heard many truly great orchestras, and I’ve never heard anything even close. BTW, the section has 11 members, so economy doesn’t enter into the calculation at all.

  • Csaba Erdélyi says:

    To become a complete viola player one must master the art and craft of orchestra playing, as well as chamber music and solo playing. Family and teaching brings further development to the “Homo Violicus”.