Just in: Dallas names a sought-after music director

Just in: Dallas names a sought-after music director


norman lebrecht

June 04, 2018

The next chief of the Dallas Symphony, following Jaap Van Zweden, is to be Fabio Luisi, the stylish and meticulous Italian conductor.

Luisi, 59, will start work in 2020. He will need to shed some other commitments.

He is presently music director of Zurich Opera, Danish National Symphony Orchestra (where he renewed just two weeks ago) and the Maggio Musicale in Florence, where he succeeded Zubin Mehta.

He has served as principal conductor at the Metropolitan Opera during James Levine’s absence for health reasons. But Luisi, a man of strict ethics, could not get along with Peter Gelb and the residency petered out.

His first encounter with Dallas in March proved exceptionally productive, as video released today testifies.

He told the local paper today: ‘I knew it was a good orchestra, but the quality of the orchestra, and the spirit in the orchestra, went way beyond my expectations.’

Dallas can count itself lucky.

Musicians in world-class orchestras are genuinely fond of Fabio, a dedicated artist and a very decent man.


  • Lawrence Kershaw says:

    Lucky DSO. Marvellous conductor!

  • Marcello Vilamatas says:

    Great musician, but….obviously an incredible jobs collector (Danish National, Zurich Opera, Maggio Fiorentino and now Dallas, at once!). Surprising decision in a way…difficult to understand why would he want another post in a rather good ( but obviously not one of the best) orchestra…and why the Dallas Symphony Orchestra would appoint someone who will be in his 60’s when the tenure will start and who offers so little availability…also for an eventual touring future, and actually so little exclusive…
    I wonder how his other orchestras feel right now. Nevertheless, a great musician.

    • Anon. says:

      According to Wikipedia, Luisi will be stepping down from the Danish National at the same time he takes up Dallas and my guess is he’ll give up Zurich for Fiorentino.

    • Olassus says:

      The contract is probably for 12 weeks, and of course there are 52 of those in a year.

    • Jon H says:

      Well, sonically they must be good – their principal horn went to Berlin Phil and their concertmaster came from the Concertgebouw.

      • nml hats says:

        You are correct! And the Meyerson is one of the best acoustic environments you could ask for. Musicians love performing in the hall. I give Jaap credit for adding some mighty fine new players to the already talent-rich orchestra as some of the older ones have retired. (I was heartbroken when David Cooper went to Berlin but, of course, very excited for him. Is there any other orchestra a horn player would aspire to any more than that one?)

      • BillG says:

        JvZ brought in his friend from Amsterdam and put Dallas in the position of having two Concert Masters. I wonder how long the Amsterdam fellow will hang around Dallas now that JvZ is gone?

    • MacroV says:

      I’ve never heard the Dallas Symphony, but around the world these days, any orchestra that pays a living wage (and often less) is good, if not great. Even part-time, per-service orchestras in the U.S. probably get astoundingly good players at their auditions. The difference between a good and great orchestra these days is largely a matter of its musical leadership and the ambitiousness and creativity of its programming.

      • BillG says:

        As to you last point, at the announcement event at the Meyerson Symphony Hall, he did state he would be looking at new music as well and that the DSO intended to commission new works by both men and women composer.

        My only hope if that it doesn’t mean less time for Mahler. 🙂

  • John Kelly says:

    Super move. Great appointment. Its a very good orchestra in a great sounding hall. Worth making a trip I’d say if you’re in the US

    • Helene Kamioner says:

      This brings up the question as to whether Luisi is prepared to join the Dallas Community and all that this position entails…will he move his family to Dallas. He did not move them to Dresden during his tenure there. Dallas is a far cry from Europe.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        It’s not Europe, but it’s truly not a wasteland either – unless you live in one of the poorer neighborhoods, which is true for ANY city, anywhere.

        • collin says:

          “It’s not Europe”

          I heard at certain times of the year it’s like Venice.

          • Dave T says:

            You’re thinking Houston.

          • Helene Kamioner says:

            Actually, my thoughts went along Zurich, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, and all those spiffy summer festivals. Plus, I wonder how he will interact with the good people of Dallas altogether. I bet Dallas is going to see a lot of guest conductors during Luisi’s reign, long may it be.

      • BillG says:

        Heard as i was growing up, “Dallas is a great place to live, but I’d hate to visit there.”

  • Rob says:

    This is a great move. Luisi is special.

  • phf655 says:

    The statement; ‘Luisi, a man of strict ethics, could not get along with Gelb’, is unsupported. Everything I know about Luisi suggests that he is a fine conductor, and a fine human being too. Nezet-Seguin was chosen as music director over Luisi, probably because the Met administration was looking for someone younger, more glamorous and marketable, instead of the quiet, bespectacled, somewhat quirky Luisi (after all, he makes perfumes, which, for a time were being sold by the Met’s shop!), who was commonly believed to have been the favorite of the company’s rank and file. The innuendo suggesting that Gelb is unethical is unfair, all the more so as the Levine scandal, if that is what is being referred to here, broke long after the Nezet-Seguin appointment was announced, and Luisi’s relationship with the Met ended. Luisi himself speculated in the press that the reasons he wasn’t appointed were along the lines of what is stated above.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Other than I can’t understand the era of multiple appointments of conductors, Dallas is indeed fortunate. (How often do you hear near-unanimous praise for a conductor?) Dallas will be a good fit for Maestro Luisi and he for Dallas.

      Regarding the ethics comment…Luisi’s is impeccable, Gelb’s (in his treatment of Maestro Luisi and many, many others, is suspect at best. Not a man to be trusted.

  • Anson says:

    Very well deserved. He’s always struck me as a great musician and a decent person. (Taking nothing away from the DSO, I will say that I’ll be interested to see where his next major appointment takes him in another 5-6 years. He’s in his prime.)

  • Ben says:

    This is an excellent hire! He will be tremendous for Dallas!

  • Marcus Clayton says:

    Maestro Luisi is a marvelous conductor, and Dallas is very lucky to get him.
    As for Luisi and the Met, I think the timing simply didn’t work out for him to become the new music director. When Luisi’s contract at the Met expired, they still had Levine as music director and the Met hadn’t made any serious efforts to get rid of Levine at that point. Luisi simply moved on to other assignments, and the Met was lucky enough to get the talented Maestro Yannick NĂ©zet-SĂ©guin as the new music director there.
    Best wishes to the Dallas Symphony and Maestro Luisi!!!!!

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Congratulations to Fabio Luisi and the Dallas Symphony.

    As mentioned above, a very good orchestra that plays in really good hall.

  • msc says:

    Regardless of anything else, I’m kind of glad to see Dallas bucking the youth craze.

    • John Borstlap says:

      That is because they had the experience of Jaap van Zweden.

      • Max Grimm says:

        That’s a difficult argument to sustain. So far, the Dallas Symphony has had 15 music directors since its founding. Out of 15, only Carl Venth, Paul Kletzki, Georg Solti and Max Rudolf were 50+ at the time of taking up the position.
        The rest (including Jaap van Zweden) were younger, with one in his 20s, six in their 30s and four in their 40s.

        • Don Ciccio says:

          van Zweden was 48 at the time of the start of his Dallas appointment so not exactly young – though by no means old either. To compare, Bernstein was 47 when he first conducted the Vienna Philharmonic.

          • Max Grimm says:

            True but to some here on SD (and in the real world of course), who critically monitor conductors’ ages, a 48 year old conductor is still a lumbering infant.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Interestingly enough, some of the most successful (artistically at least) appointments of music directors of U.S. orchestras were of mid-career conductors, some (not all) of who were not exactly “stars”, whatever that may mean. One can think of Honeck in Pittsburgh or Vänskä in Minneapolis. Noseda in DC also shows great promise and Alsop and Baltimore have also forged a successful partnership and I also heard great things about LangrĂ©e and Cincinatti. And of course, van Zweden in Dallas.

  • La Verita says:

    That Luisi couldn’t get along with Gelb is speculation at best – unless someone can come up with published facts to back it up. What is known is that Luisi was brought in as a stop-gap conductor for Levine, and therefore one might presume that he was treated as such — which if true would have been unjust. Indeed, there were some musicians at the Met who felt that Luisi’s Wagner performances didn’t rise to the level of Levine’s — and that may be true, but in considering his merits, the Met was fortunate to have had Fabio Luisi at that time, and it would be a pity not to bring him back there in some guest capacity.

  • Herr Doktor says:

    Congratulations also to Maestro Luisi, who is a frequent contributor here. I really loved his performances of Siegfried and Gotterdammerung in the Ring cycle he conducted at the Met. He’s a serious, dedicated, and thoughtful musician, and Dallas is lucky to have him.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Meyerson Hall is a great one for putting on Mahler 8. I saw Andrew Litton do it there two nights in a row! But it would be pretty difficult to beat this one that Luisi gave in Copenhagen.


  • Scott says:

    I don’t know how Luisi is as a symphony conductor, but I found his Wagner and Berlioz at the Met to be disappointing. He gave a lot of attention to detail, but his performances were emotionally flat. His third act of Götterdämmerung lacked any emotional curve.

  • Mario Lutz says:

    I will subscribe MACROV ‘s comment underlining good and great and leadership… specially when some tweets coming from London about last week concerts by the outgoing and ingoing leaders of the Berlin Philharmonic.
    I paste hereto some lines:

    May 30
    1) Really, NOT a breathtaking Bruckner 9 from Rattle and the @BerlinPhil @SouthbankCentre. Got a bit more interesting with the last part, but in general was relentlessly loud and lacking that numinous quality of great Bruckner performances.
    2) I shall not mourn the Rattle era at the Berlin Philharmonic. They’re a shadow of the orchestra he inherited. I’ve never heard them actually play badly before, but tonight’s Bruckner 9 was just poorly played and conducted.
    3) Everything composed after 1911 that I’ve heard Rattle conduct has been good. Almost everything before is patchy, sometimes awful. Bruckner 9 is terribly important to me, but is so difficult to play well.
    This was made worse by them playing the fourth movement completion, which, let’s be honest, is a total dog’s dinner. You can hear the staples where they’ve patched it together.
    4) No trace of Karajan’s orchestra remains (despite a small handful of personnel still being there). Thank heavens I didn’t get a ticket for then Brahms 1 tomorrow.
    I should say that I appeared to be the only one in the hall with this opinion, but then that’s been the case on several previous occasions.
    5) you’ve lost perspective entirely if you think tonight’s playing was bad/poor.—->
    —> Really? Multiple basic errors in the finale, including an entirely missed timpani bit. Loads of poor ensemble, esp in 2nd movement. Dodgy intonation, rushing/dragging without cause. I mean I’ve heard them dozens of times and never heard anything like that many execution issues.
    I mean obviously I mean relative to the standard one expects of them. I honestly felt that the last movement in particular sounded badly under-rehearsed.
    6) Went to see BPO a lot in the eighties and nineties . Gave up going shortly after Rattle took over . Disappointing and a bad choice .—>
    Lucky you! I heard Karajan once (Brahms 1) and it changed my life. And I had huge respect for what Abbado did, especially in Mahler and 20th century works, but Rattle was a commercial choice pure and simple.

    May 31
    1) Rattle: Take 2! A much better evening so far @SouthbankCentre with @BerlinPhil: witty & humorous, with absolutely incredible sounds in Jörg Widmann, Tanz auf dem Vulkan and Lutosławski No.3.
    Now can Rattle sustain this against all odds for Brahms No.1? I hope so
    A flawed farewell Brahms No.1 from Rattle and @BerlinPhil @ SouthbankCentre. Ever the showman, brash and punchy rather than love-filled and incandescent. Intense but sound lacking blending and coherence. No flow, badly handled transitions of tempo. Just got too loud. No finesse. – at Royal Festival Hall

    Jun. 1
    Superswift Mahler 7 from Kirill Petrenko* @BarbicanCentre that totally missed the architecture of this great work: choppy like digging potatoes; so camp & overemphatic that I forgot why I love Mahler. Doesn’t bode well for the future.
    * with BayerischeStaatsoper

    Both Rattle and Petrenko have come across as super needy conductors this week. But what works for #Deadpool2 hasn’t worked so well in Bruckner, Brahms and Mahler. Maybe narcissism has got the better of both of them. Can’t wait for #Deadpool3

    • Anton Bruckner says:

      Kiril Petrenko conducted Petrushka with the Israel Philarmonic. Great attention to detail and highlighting of the smaller details. No sense at all to the architecture of the work which was dragged and did not gain momentum. Overall terrible performance despite or perhaps becuse of Petrenko’s musical insight. I was probably the only one in the hall who thought so but putting aside the hype and PR aspects he was really bad.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        Define “architecture”. Petrushka is ballet music. As an orchestral work, it’s descriptive music that’s basically in four movements with ZERO relation to sonata-allegro form. The four movements are linked together by a snare-less field drum. I’m not saying you’re wrong; I’m just asking you to be specific as to what you thought was wrong with it in terms of tempo relationships, dynamics, or whatever else. Personally, I look for a lot of detail in the orchestration.

        And not to in any way pick on your ‘handle’, but it sure ain’t Bruckner.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      As I mentioned elsewhere, I was disappointed every time I heard KP live. There was some substandard playing, especially in Brahms double concerto when he recently brought his Bavarian State Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. A few years ago, a Khovanshchina at the Met was likewise disappointing. His appearances with the LPO also failed to make a lasting impact. I am afraid that it was for a reason that he was not the BPO’s first choice.

      But I am willing to give him another chance. After all you cannot fairly judge an artist after tow concerts (although you can start to form an impression).

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    “Superswift Mahler 7 from Kirill Petrenko* @BarbicanCentre that totally missed the architecture of this great work”

    I’m not making an excuse for Petrenko, and I don’t know if he’s more Russian or more Austrian. I just want to make the point that the Russians are pretty consistent at conducting Mahler at fast tempi. Both Svetlanov and Kondrashin took Mahler 7 at a very fast pace! Gergiev was just slightly slower with his London Symphony recording, but not by much (that’s a good 7th, by the way).

    The problem with Mahler 7 is that people who do it really fast or really slow, tend to be really fast or really slow THROUGHOUT the entire symphony. What I think works is to treat Mahler 7 as just one-big but gradual accelerando, as the symphony slowly makes its way from darkness to light – slower in the first two movements; 9.5 to 10.5 minutes in the scherzo, then quicker in the last two movements. Also, they should be sure to observe the fortissimo marking for the deep bells (tiefe glocken) and cowbells at the very end of the finale. It should sound completely nuts, and dump us at the doorstep of the mighty 8th.

  • Nick2 says:

    I believe it could be a great move for both the DSO and Maestro Luisi. JvZ has raised the orchestra to a very fine level. Luisi can build on that and help to make it even more impressive. Surely no conductor of his stature will wish to take over any orchestra and then just stand still! Dallas has been very smart.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Just as it might be easier (less distracting) to play baseball for the Texas Rangers than with the N.Y. Yankees, Mr. Luisi won’t have to deal with the high pressure politics and powerful press that might make Jaap van Zweden’s life less than pleasant in N.Y. (I hope I’m wrong on that point). In short, Dallas should be a good place to be within the U.S.

    • BillG says:

      The Dallas Morning Fish Wrap does not have a music critic on staff. The fellow that does the work used to be full time, but now he’s a contract contributor. Though to his credit, he was the one the brought JVZ abuse of players to the papers notice. They ran with it and the DSO management took it seriously enough to interview musicians, do a survey of all musicians and institute some changes. Those changes were not as easy to dig out. A couple of musicians who had butted heads with JVZ were near retirement. They were allowed to miss concerts he conducted until retirement. About a year or so.

      The only pressure will be the fund raising side. The DSO lost their long time “deep pockets” earlier this year Margret McDermott. She was the one who ponied up that big bucks to keep JVA in town.

  • Gan Heffetz says:


  • Stephen Gould says:

    Losing JAAP! and gaining Luisi – win-win for DSO. It would have been better if JAAP! had stayed in Dallas and Luisi just walked across the plaza to the NYPO, but the timing wouldn’t have worked anyway.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Where does that come from? JVZ has greatly contributed to the DSO’s level and international standing, it is a truly great orchestra. Luisi gets a beautiful instrument to play upon. And JVZ is supposed to do something comparable with the NYPO after the Gilbert period which left many people un- and dissatisfied.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    This is wonderful news! The DSO is lucky to have him!

  • Robert HolmĂ©n says:

    The new conductor sounds promising but…

    Ten new commissions in five years? That will be a waste of money and time.

    The DSO did a number of joint-commissions with European orchestras in the JVZ years… all uniformly tedious and forgettable. I recall a particularly lame “Trio Concerto” by Wolfgang Rihm.

    The Dallas audiences will not show up for new work; you will see wide empty spaces in the hall for those programs. They’ve been burned with crap too many times to want to be fooled again.

    • Gan Heffetz says:

      “The Dallas audiences will not show up for new work; you will see wide empty spaces in the hall for those programs. They’ve been burned with crap too many times to want to be fooled again.”

      That could be easily applied to most audiences of most orchestras. Unfortunately, yet justifiably.

      • Jaime Herrera says:

        Absolutely true. I more than agree – new music is devoid of inspiration and grammar. Music is no longer written by composers but by engineers. Oscar Wilde once said that “if a book is not worth reading twice, it’s not worth reading once.”

    • John Borstlap says:

      Nonsense. My piece was a success with both audience and players at the DSO, and with enthusiastic reviews. If this escaped notice, it is not the fault of the orchestra or of JVZ.

      • Robert HolmĂ©n says:

        How many American orchestra performances has it gotten since?

        • John Borstlap says:

          It is still under negotiation. Programming is carried-out over long periods…… and programmers are not always in possession of courageous ears or minds.

    • Kevin Scott says:

      My major concern regarding any conductor who is not American is how they will respond to new American composers. Many usually perform what is in “front of them” (read: the “usual suspects” who always receive the commissions, get numerous performances and always support their friends and/or students) and not the composers who have either been shunned, ignored or simply “unknown” (i.e., no major track record, or composers who have quality works that can’t get past the community or metropolitan orchestra circuit, yet are well received by audiences and musicians alike).

      I look forward to Maestro Luisi’s input and performances with Dallas.

      • Robert HolmĂ©n says:

        The current system seems like an expensive way to acquire repertoire that will be performed once, applauded while standing, then shelved.

        Ricardo Muti recently commented that he had conducted many world premieres in his career and yet none of them had gone on to gain traction in the concert world. Wasted efforts.

        Meanwhile, a gold mine of attractive but neglected music from the classic and romantic eras sits out there, practically free, ready-to-go, ready to be the next so-old-it’s-new discovery.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Yes, but this is a territory with complex issues. There is the cementing of a ‘canon’, which is not good for inventive programming beyond the routine, and the immense mass of production in the last century, and of ‘today’, which has not been ‘filtered-out’ because the more or less normal filtering process as it was operating untill, say, WW II, has disappeared. Developments in music have thrown-up a barrier of distrust and indifference which also hinders anything of unknown repertoire from earlier periods. The early music movement has created its own territory, as has ‘new music’ which has itself separated from the central performance culture. And then there is the ideological culture war which, with the help of academia, tries to push ‘academic music’ at orchestras, as new operas based upon cultural / gender identity themes are being promoted and forced upon audiences for political, not for aesthetic / artistic reasons which seem to have, in general, disappeared from sight.

          I know of a programmer of an important German orchestra who would plan indigestible ugliness not for aesthetic reasons, but because it ‘reflects the concerns of our time’. Etc. etc…. All of this has taken-away any basis of assessing some unknown repertoire – be it old or new – as a failure or success. The only thing that still remains intact is the basic repertoire. The rest is hit or miss and without much consequence. One of the problems of the art form which needs to be addressed.

          • Robert HolmĂ©n says:

            Recalling the large accumulation of absurdities in common operas, I am doubtful that any recent coverage of “cultural” or “gender-identity” topics is a deal-breaker for opera goers.

            I think the real deal-breaker is that these new operas have terrible music.

            A few years ago I went to a double feature at the Dallas Opera of “Everest” and “La Wally” and even though they obviously put way more effort into staging the modern “Everest” than the classic “La Wally”… guess which one fared better in the comparison?

  • Gregory Walz says:

    Just a comment on the value of appointing experienced conductors as music directors in the middle of their careers: Thierry Fischer was appointed music director of the Utah Symphony in the second half of 2009, when I believe he was 50 years old. He had already been principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2001-2006, and was, as of his appointment, still principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, 2006-2012. His artistic leadership — along with that of the Utah Symphony players — has led the Utah Symphony to resuming a prominent place in the landscape of major orchestras in North America. Yes, there is valuable orchestral life outside of the largest United States and Canadian metropolitan areas. The playing and interpretations led by Fischer are consistently superb, as is the quality of guest conductors and the performances they elicit.

    While our symphony currently really doesn’t have the financial resources to tour internationally more than perhaps once every fifteen to twenty years at best, Fischer’s leadership led the Utah Symphony to a critically acclaimed performance in Carnegie Hall in 2016 that marked a return to the aforementioned prominence. And Fischer has renewed his contract with the Utah Symphony through the 2021-2022 season, and three commercial recordings will be released by Hyperion Records in the next eighteen months: all five of Saint-Saens symphonies and assorted orchestral works. In the coming season, 2018-2019, Symphonie fantastique will be recorded along with the Reverie et Caprice, La Mort d’O’phelie, and Sara la baigneuse. This recording will also be released by Hyperion Records. Reference recordings has already released three recordings by the Utah Symphony in the last three years, with Prokofiev’s cantata Alexander Nevsky combined with Kije on another recording to follow, to be released in the next year or so.

    More specifically regarding Dallas, I believe that Fabio Luisi is an excellent choice for music director of the Dallas Symphony, in preference to, say, James Gaffigan, Pablo Heras-Cassado, Gustavo Gimeno, or Karina Canellakis.

    There is a reference to recordings in the Dallas Symphony’s lengthy press release announcing Luisi’s appointment, and for an orchestra of the caliber of the Dallas Symphony, the more or less foundering of its own record label, DSO Live, with Jaap van Zweden, has been a disappointment, but was perhaps not a truly unexpected development. Andrew Litton, a former DSO music director, did release some commercial recordings on Hyperion with the DSO.

    The first release on DSO Live, with van Zweden, of six so far, was adventurous in programming, with Steven Stucky’s August 4, 1964, but the ones that followed, including Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 and most recently No. 3, and Tchaikovsky Nos. 4 and 5 and Beethoven Nos. 5 and 7, have been standard fare, although the playing as such can at least be viewed as excellent.

    While I have never heard the Dallas Symphony perform live, I plan on attending at least one of the performances of Franz Schmidt’s Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln that is mentioned in the press release as being scheduled for the 2019-2010 season.

    The reference in the press release to a renewed focus on American composers is also welcome, although it appears this would include the world premiere commissions by women composers as well. Is any major American orchestra, beyond the Seattle Symphony, ever going to actually program at least a few of the superb symphonies by the mid-twentieth-century American neo-romantics, like Howard Hanson, Walter Piston, David Diamond, William Schumann, Roy Harris, Vittorio Giannini — there’s one for Fabio to unleash, along with Paul Creston, aka Giuseppe Guttoveggio. Commissions and world premieres are not the only ways to revitalize an American orchestra’s programming. There is such a treasure beyond Copland’s Third — even the Barber symphonies are scandalously neglected by the major American orchestras. Programming and commissioning “trendy” young male and female American composers, some of whom may become “great” composers, are far from the only ways forward.

    • John Borstlap says:

      American composers don’t need to be young and female to be good and deserving orchestral exposure: Jonathan Leshnoff (premiere on JVZ’s last DSO concerts), Paul Moravec, Reza Vali, Daniel Asia, Aaron Jay Kernis, Pierre Jalbert, Daniel Gilliam, Jake Heggie, to name a few.

      • Kevin Scott says:

        …and not to interject race here, but there are a slew of African-American composers that still rarely get performed by major American orchestras, ranging from pioneers like William Grant Still, Florence Price and R. Nathaniel Dett, to elder statesmen like Ulysses Kay, Hale Smith, George Walker and T.J. Anderson, to the current group of younger and young-ish composers from Adolphus Hailstork to Jeffrey Mumford to William Banfield to Michael Abels to Jonathan Holland to Jessie Montgomery to…well, the list goes on.

        And there are a number of Hispanic-American composers as well (Roberto Sierra, Arlene Sierra and Gabriela Lena Frank, to name a few)

    • Kevin Scott says:

      …not to mention some of the more neglected American symphonists like Elie Siegmeister, Peter Mennin, Irwin Bazelon, William Grant Still and other major composers who have fallen by the wayside like Bernard Herrmann (he composed more than Hitchcock scores, folks!), Ulysses Kay, Norman Dello Joio, Robert Ward and other mid-to-late 20th century American composers that deserve performances.

  • John Borstlap says:

    There is a fantastic Mahler IX conducted by Luisi on YouTube:


  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    Great appointment. Lucky for all concerned.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    Robert Holmen writes: “Ten new commissions in five years? That will be a waste of money and time.”

    I think I am inclined to agree. I really wish orchestras would instead decide to play music from the last 50 years. Which pieces have not yet joined the standard repertoire, yet deserve attention or at least another chance? I would be much more inclined to attend a concert like that rather than some new piece, which will be played once, and then dropped and forgotten. If everyone wants to perform a premier, then nobody will play the second or third performance, and the piece has no chance to join the repertoire.

    • Kevin Scott says:

      …or the last sixty, seventy-five or even one hundred years later. Yes, I agree that there are plenty of works that do deserve revival as well as repeat performances, since there are treasures from these periods that have been primarily taken for granted.

      But the slew of new works that receive the first and, apparently deigned for, only performance stem from the fact that the composer sometimes doesn’t think ahead of how other orchestras would respond to the piece. Sometimes a composer thinks of the orchestra they’ve been commissioned to write a piece for with that orchestra in mind, but not others. I wrote a piece for the Houston Symphony over twenty years ago, but I also knew that as virtuostic as it was, I also knew that they were doing fourteen performances of it (It was written for family concerts) and that they would nail it by the last performances, which they did. Since then, that work has only received three other performances, two by major American orchestras and the other one by a regional orchestra here in New York.

      I have been told by some performers to “think of the audience”, and inasmuch as some composers try to find that accessible avenue to ride on, it is not easy to try and compromise. When a composer does, the audience also realizes that they’re being patronized on another level, since they will ask “why is he imitating…?” and you can name your favorite composer from the golden era of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods, because this composer has gone out of their way to try and write a communicative work that simply can’t hold water not only against the works of the past, but even the works of the present.

      The best thing to do is be true to one’s self. The audience will know when you’re being genuine or not. That’s when the two audiences – the one paying to hear and the one being paid to play – will know when a good piece has, in the great Broadway term, “legs”.