Why the Concertgebouw fired Gatti

Why the Concertgebouw fired Gatti


norman lebrecht

August 02, 2018

The main reason is contained halfway down this morning’s announcement:

Since the publication of the article in the Washington Post, a number of female colleagues of the Concertgebouw Orchestra reported experiences with Gatti, which are inappropriate considering his position as chief conductor. This has irreparably damaged the relationship of trust  between the orchestra and the chief conductor.

The sub-reason is the secondary clause.

We have been hearing lately of deteriorating relations between the orchestra and its Italian conductor. Whether the sexual element is a contributory factor cannot be ascertained, but C’bouw players have been telling us of a poor atmosphere and lack of mutual trust, as well as general boredom at work. The initial attraction did not last long.

Gatti, 56, will not struggle to find freelance work around the world, starting in Japan and China.

The C’bouw, however, will be hard pressed to find front-line conductors at no notice to take over his concerts, let alone a credible successor as music director. This will be a major challenge, and a turning point, for the orchestra.

Watch this space.


  • Guus Mostart says:

    I wonder what Netherlands Opera will do: Gatti is booked to conduct their new production of Pelléas with the Concertgebouworkest in the Holland Festival next year.

    • Patrick says:

      Wouldn’t that be a wonderful opportunity for a second chance for Simon Rattle and the RCO?

      • Guus Mostart says:

        Rattle and the KCO is not a match made in heaven. He is better suited to the Rotterdam Phil.

        • Brian says:

          What about Yannick? As far as I can tell, he has never conducted the RCO. I often wonder why not. Is there some kind of rivalry between the RCO and the Rotterdammers? Both are outstanding orchestras, and I often travel to the Netherlands to hear them.

          • Guus Mostart says:

            Ultimately it is up to Netherlands Opera what to do. I am sure they don’t want to lose the KCO in this slot.

          • Max Grimm says:

            “As far as I can tell, he has never conducted the RCO. I often wonder why not.”

            If I remember correctly, the RPhO has a contractual clause, prohibiting their chief conductors from taking any conducting engagements with the KCO while they’re under contract with the RPhO.

          • Martinu says:

            Thr Rotterdam new chief, Lahav Shani, conducted the RCO in June.

          • Max Grimm says:

            Shani technically “doesn’t count” yet. His appointment becomes effective with the start of the 2018/2019 season, which begins in September I think. And of course there are bound to be exceptions, to allow people to honor previously made arrangements, considering that much is planned and calendars are filled long in advance.

    • Dominic Stafford says:

      For Pelleas? What about asking Mark Wigglesworth if he is free?

    • Melisande says:

      No pun intended, but a very good and wise idea would be the Dutch conductor and musician Ed Spanjaard.

      • Guus Mostart says:

        Indeed, Ed Spanjaard would be an excellent choice for Pelléas. He conducted this opera for me in 2005 at the Reisopera to great acclaim from all the leading music critics.

        • Roeland Gerritsen says:

          Ed Spanjaard is really a very good but unfortunately somewhat underrated conductor.

        • Jan Breukel says:

          Ed Spanjaard conducted this opera in Maastricht with his own orchestra the Lso. His last concert. Absolutely brilliant, never heard Debussy so good.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Spanjaard is a much underrated but brilliant conductor. He is also a brilliant pianist. One of those allround musicians with a true musicality, for which Holland is never very kind.

    • Vittorio Di Paola says:

      Nobody will come to Concertgebouw next such wrong decision, a part mediocre conductors whose names I read in the comments. Someone speaks about the greatest of great ones Haitink , I think he never will come back after such unlawful behaviour

    • David Riviere says:

      You forget to precise that Gatti had just signed a new contract three weeks ago !
      This is an execution without a trial .

  • Patrick says:

    There is an agreement between the Rotterdam and Amsterdam orchestras not to have their chief conductors conduct the other orchestra. Now that Yannick has left Rotterdam, he can come and conduct in Amsterdam.

    • Barry says:

      That may be the case, but it’s not likely to happen, given how busy Yannick’s schedule is.

      He’s booked in both Philly and the Met for years to come. Perhaps he could fill in for a program or two at some point, but I don’t see him building an ongoing relationship with the RCOA at this point in his career.

      They may decide to go a few years without a chief conductor, but if that’s not the case, and they want to name one in the next year or so, from looking at their schedule for both last season and this coming season, I’d say the most likely choices are Fischer, Chung, Bychkov, or possibly a return of Jansons.

  • Caravaggio says:

    You people think YN-S is the answer? Laughable. Why replace a bad conductor with another? Besides, YN-S is, for reasons hard to understand, stretched thin with commitments. Such is the increasingly rotting state of the music biz we live in.

  • Marcello says:

    They have only 4 weeks to find a replacement for their concerts in Amsterdam, Berlin and Lucerne.

    • Pedro says:

      Haitink should be invited immediately to conduct the ex-Gatti concerts. Bruckner 3, Mahler 7, Brahms 2 and 4 and Strauss Don Juan and Tod have no secrets for him.

      • barry guerrero says:

        Nice idea. But at this point, I’m not sure Haitink would be up to that pace. Here’s hoping that I’m wrong.

      • Thomasina says:

        It’s improbable but I thought of Thielemann because of this program (he conducted Mahler 3 this year, he can challenge the 7th!).

        • Thomasina says:

          Ah, he was talked in the comments below. Because there were already 100+ comments when I opened this thread. Sorry for my impatience…

  • The View from America says:

    The last domino from the Midgette/WaPo article has fallen.

    And no one is surprised.

  • Patrick says:

    OK, here are a few names for the long list: Welser-Möst (made a very succesful debut 2 years ago), Deneve (great in French music), Pappano, Harding.

    • Guus Mostart says:

      The KCO may try to poach Lahav Shani from the Rotterdam Phil. He just made a sensational debut with them in June.

      • Guus Mostart says:

        …..debut with the KCO

      • J, Froberger says:

        Just where i’m afraid of….it would be not the first time the KCO snatched excellent musicians from the RphO. (for example Peter Masseurs, Jorgen van Rijen, Viktor Libermann etc. etc..) Even the managing director Jan Raes comes from the RphO…And indeed: Shani’s debut with the RCO was sensational. (Schonbergs Pelleas)

        • Ben LEGEBEKE says:

          Most qualified players came from the Hague Residentie- Orchestra not from Rotterdam po….

        • Max Grimm says:

          Well, to be fair, it’s hardly the case that the KCO sends out commandos in the dark of night to snatch up unsuspecting musicians from other orchestras. Musicians who joined the KCO coming from other orchestras deliberately and voluntarily decided to switch.
          As for “recent names”, I believe you’ll find more of the KCO’s current members came from the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest than from the RPhO or the Residentie Orkest.

    • anon says:

      Harding is too flaky. He gets a music directorship, in Paris no less, then decides it wasn’t the right flavor for him and calls it quits before it even ended. He is a good guest conductor, but not someone an orchestra can put their faith in for a long term commitment.

      • MaestroMyth says:

        He’s been MD at Swedish Radio for how long? 12 years? That is a world class orchestra.

      • Radames says:

        That’s not true. Harding has a very successful long term relationship with the Swedish Radio Orchestra where he has been Chief Conductor for a long time. The problem with Paris was probably not only Harding …

        Harding is an excellent musician who would be great at the Concertgebouw …

    • barry guerrero says:

      I like your list. I doubt if W-M would want to leave his Cleveland gig for the Concertgebouw, but you never know.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        Why wouldn’t he? The Cleveland Orchestra is of course a very good orchestra, but not quite the same as the Concertgebouworkest (especially the strings), the latter have a much better hall, and Amsterdam is obviously a far more interesting and relevant city to live (or visit…) and work in than the Mistake on the Lake.

        • barry guerrero says:

          Sorry, but I disagree on two accounts: the quality of the two orchestras and the quality of the two halls. In my opinion, Cleveland has the best day-to-day string section in America, along with Philly and possibly L.A. (because of all the studio players).

          Cleveland has good baseball and basketball, and a terrible football team. In Holland, you have soccer (which doesn’t interest me). The food in Cleveland is no worse than it generally is in Amsterdam. Both have atrocious weather by left coast standards. It’s far cheaper to live in Cleveland than Amsterdam. I’m guessing that W-M would pay far less taxes in Ohio than in Amsterdam. In conclusion, the ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ are all subjective, but I don’t think the advantages of Amsterdam add up to W-M dumping his Cleveland position.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            The strings in Cleveland are no doubt very good *technically* (as I was able to witness last year when I heard them play the Beethoven op.132 quartet arranged for the whole string section), but they don’t have the depth of sound and ensemble style the Concertgebouworkest strings still do – even though they don’t sound as distinct anymore as they once used to. The string section of the LA Philharmonic is obviously quite competent, too, but nowhere as good as either of those orchestras.

            The difference in quality of acoustics between the two halls is rather significant. Not even a close comparison. Severance Hall is not a “bad” hall, but the acoustics overload easily, don’t carry very well and tend to stifle the sound a little, whereas in the Concertgebouw, the sound can unfold much freer and it carries much better through the auditorium.

            As to the quality of life and cultural life in Amsterdam vs. Cleveland…well, the latter may have “good baseball and basketball” but that’s just as irrelevant in this context as how good AFC Ajax is…what an amazingly provincial way to look at these things. LÖL
            I think know better than to discuss cultural life and food quality with Americans. LÖL again

  • Guus Mostart says:

    ……where is John Borstlap when you need him???

  • Pilgrim says:

    Myung-Whun Chung who declared no more music directorship in his life could be an interim principal conductor while RCO’s searching for the next music director.

  • anon says:

    Jaap van Zweden!

    Quit the Hong Kong Philharmonic (it’s never going to be the entry into the huge Chinese market that everyone is hoping for, which is the only reason why anyone would consider Hong Kong).

    And plus, insurance against Deborah Borda who’s got her eyes fixed on that fresh young thing Mirga for the next New York music directorship anyway.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Van Zweden is, meanwhile, conducting in Shanghai and Bejing as well, and has an excellent relationship with HK – with an orchestra full of life, ambition, and superb craftmanship – why would someone give that up for a top orchestra in a small, populist country?

      The slur about Borda is absurd as well: it was JvZw who invited her to NY and she obviously loves to work with him. And in orchestral programming there are always guest conductors coming and going, and why would they be a threat to the MD? It’s merely unsavory insinuations.

      • anon says:

        Why would anyone give up the HK Philharmonic for the Amsterdam Concertgebouw?

        Are you insane?

        • John Borstlap says:

          No, my mother had me checked.

          There is more to conducting an orchestra than merely standing at its rostrum. There is also a whole entourage around it with its contacts, organization, problems, etc.

          A well-known non-Dutch conductor whose name I shall not mention, once told me after having worked for many years in the Netherlands, that ‘in the beginning you are hailed like the messiah and after some years, they stab you in the back’. The reason: you are then no longer ‘from outside’ and have become ‘one of us’ and then, it is unfair ‘that you think you know more than we do’.

        • Graeme Hall says:

          I bet the HK Phil pays a lot more.

    • Conducting Feminista says:

      Mirga will be not only leading NY Phil, she will be leading the Berlin Phil and Vienna Phil. Barbara Hannigan will also be a music director of one of the great European orchestras like London Symphony as well. Women are taking over the conducting profession and the male conductor will become obsolete.

  • Rob says:

    I can conduct, give me a couple a of concerts, I’ll do them for free. Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner you name it.

    • The Ghost of Karlos Cleiber says:

      Was thinking the same thing! As well as being able to conduct an orchestra reasonably well, I am also prepared to put in my contract that I won’t lech over, harass, perv or otherwise act inappropriately toward colleagues male or female, young or old. I promise not to impose any ludicrous initiation ceremonies, nor to generally act in a way that would get me summarily fired from any other workplace.

      Unfortunately, I am not a spoiled man-child whose agent has been telling him he is god for the last 15 years but have instead been getting on with the serious business of training orchestras and looking after young players – so I daresay the above qualities aren’t going to get me shortlisted… 🙂

      One other thing: well done, Concertgebouw, for dealing with this the right way, not running the amoral argument that ‘talent excuses anything’ and generally acting as arts organisations should.

  • rfl says:

    Vladimir Jurowski. Has anyone heard his Tchaikovsky symphonies with the LPO? What about Rachmaninov 3rd Piano Concerto with Gavrilyuk on RCO site? Excellent.

  • Karmadon says:

    Diego Martín Etxebarria – a spanish conductor, winner of the Asahi Competition.. Very precise and a great character!

  • william osborne says:

    When the Washington Post used social media to put out a call for reports of sexual abuse in classical music, many people responded (some with egregious cases,) but only three examples were included, William Pruecil, Bernard Uzan, and Daniel Gatti. Nothing was reported unless there was more than one victim willing to go on record.

    I’m sure there were many victims who contacted the Washington Post, but that their experiences were not included because there weren’t other victims to corroborate their story, or willing to go on record — understandable given the legal situation. The article is a big step forward, but it might appear to set a standard where an abuser gets one or two victims free, and only has to face sanctions after the third.

    I’ve also noticed that arts organizations usually don’t act unless there are multiple victims to corroborate the actions of an abuser. This means that a huge amount of abuse will continue to go unpunished because the victims lack corroborating stories from others. Here too one might call it the-first-time-is-free-policy. In reality, after careful and conclusive investigation, even one example of sexual assault should be cause for dismissal.

    • John Borstlap says:


    • Mathias Broucek says:

      Sad but necessary. Thousands of years ago the Jewish law forbade conviction on the word of a single witness. (Not looking to start a religious argument, just making the point that needing multiple cases is a very old idea.)

    • Wurtfangler says:

      There was one name they were hoping to lead with, but couldn’t get the evidence to back up what is common knowledge. As soon as this person is no longer ‘useful’, just wait and see what occurs…

    • Saxon Broken says:

      William writes: “setting a standard where an abuser gets one or two victims free, and only has to face sanctions after the third”

      I don’t see what else you can do. Given the nature of abuse, there usually are no witnesses. But we also know that sometimes accusations are made when the accused has done nothing wrong (either from malice or because of some kind of mis-understanding between the parties). These things are very hard to police, and we can probably do little more than punish a few of the most serious and obvious cases of abuse.

  • Bruce says:

    Historically the Concertgebouw has liked taking on young conductors (Haitink was 29 or 30 when they hired him, and he was replaced when he left by the 30-something Chailly). I haven’t been keeping track of all the young up-and-comers (but thank you, Andrew Powell for suggesting so many names), but it would be fun if they could make another such discovery. They’re a big enough name on their own that they don’t need to hire someone who’s already famous to boost their image.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Also Van Beinum at 38 and Mengelberg at 24.

      Personally I don’t think age should be a factor. They have few equals and no superiors, and deserve the best fit among top conductors.

    • david hilton says:

      I’d put Cornelius Meister on the list then, still only 38 years old despite a wealth of experience, including in Amsterdam.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    ” female colleagues of the Concertgebouw Orchestra”

    Is that different from *musician players* in the Orchestra?

    If so, who would that be?

  • anon says:

    “…which are inappropriate considering his position as chief conductor. ”

    But which would be appropriate if he were NOT the chief conductor?

    I don’t know Dutch employment law, but I don’t get it, is there behavior under Dutch law that would be cause for termination only if you were chief conductor, but not if you were, say, a guest conductor? a concertmaster? a principal? an anonymous second violin? a lowly intern?

    I assume the conduct Gatti was fired for was sexual in nature, I assume it was some sort of flirting (if it was outright illegal, he would’ve been fired a long time ago), so a second violin could flirt with the second clarinet, but if the chief conductor flirted with the second clarinet, then it’s cause for termination?

    Hmm, Gatti should consult a good Dutch employment lawyer.

    • John Borstlap says:

      In Dutch employment law, the point is not the flirting or abuse or any improper behavior, but whether someone in a higher position than the victim has the idea that he (always a he) – because of his position – has the idea that he has more rights than the subject. Namely, equality is the fundament of self-understanding of the country and nobody should get the idea that they are more, or can do more, or are better in one way or another, than anybody else. It is not mere equality for the law, but equality across the board, everywhere, always. Therefore conductors are in a very weak position in Holland and are skating on thin ice, lest they might think they would know something or can do something better than, say, the percussionist or the viola player. Since improper behavior is, horizontally, generally accepted in this egalitarian country and often encouraged, this suddenly changes in character if it is vertically perceived.

      In other words, it is not the behavior itself, which foreigners may think, but the positioning of the perpetrator above the horizontal quality norm which induces indignation. After all, tourists flock to the decadence of Amsterdam to enjoy some egalitarian fun (the red light district etc.) – not to the RCO. Maybe Gatti has entirely misunderstood the Dutch attitude towards improper behavior.

  • Skizetstot says:

    Jaap van Zweden, don’t make me laugh. He was there for Bruckner 8 last season and will only be asked back by RCO’s business director. Sold out the Concertgebouw in no time but could not leave an impression there.

    • John Borstlap says:

      JvZweden is incapable of leaving any impression in the ears and hearts of people who are biologically tone-deaf and thoroughly modernist at heart, like all truly gifted conductors. Such people should not listen to performances which are obvioulsy not meant for them.

      • Skizetsot says:

        I think tone-deaf people are the ideal audience for JvZ. They can watch him beat 50 3/4 bars in a row and be impressed by the skill of beating every bar in exactly the same way. At the same time enjoying it because they won’t be distracted by the total lack of musical development of sequential music like many parts of Bruckner symphonies.

      • Skizetstot says:

        Tone-deaf people are the most suitable audience for JvZ. They can enjoy his 50 or so equal subsequent 3/4 bars being beat (not conducted) in exactly the same fashion, nights in a row. And at the same time not be bothered by the total lack of a contribution to musical development of even sequential parts of great music like Bruckner’s eighth.

    • Hanna Nahan says:

      True. They feel obliged to invite him. But they don’t enjoy it.

  • Basia Jaworski says:

    I THINK that there is much more then the #metoo.

    Me, personally, I like Gatti a lot, but not everything he conducted was good. Not in my ears. His Bruckners were boring as were his Mahlers…

    My almost a year old review of his Mahler 4:


    • norman lebrecht says:

      He has been treading water for a long time. Many thought him an odd choice for the C’bouw.

    • J, Froberger says:

      do you suggest that #MeToo is a convenient tool to get rid of Gatti??

    • Skizetstot says:

      I thoroughly enjoyed his Mahler 1 in May of this year. Everything but boring I would say, especially when comparing it to JvZ Bruckner 8 less than a week before. If you search for “Gatti Mahler” on sites of major Dutch newspapers like NRC and De Volkskrant you will find mostly great reviews.

      Having said that, I think that people should be fired once it has become clear that they can’t keep their hands off other people.

  • db says:

    Why don’t they do like the Vienna Phil and get on without a chief conductor, at least for a while? The orchestra is at an excellent level, there are many excellent conductors out there, no risk that their level would go down anytime soon. Vive la liberté!

  • Ruth Whetsel says:

    Some interesting comments. Thank you from someone who is out of it. But even as a non-musician I’ve hugely enjoyed the sound of this orchestra and wonder if one of the section leaders could, well, lead them all? The orchestra chooses someone and they go for it?

    Probably unrealistic, on second thought. A section leader “leading” all the other sections as well as their own? That said, the way these players seem to listen to one another ….. do they even need a conductor?

    Please forgive my ignorant two bits! Ruth Whetsel

    • Bruce says:

      Ruth: interestingly, Jaap van Zweden (now conductor of the New York and Hong Kong philharmonics) was once concertmaster of the Concertgebouw.

      I have no idea if/ how much he has returned to conduct them, and how it’s gone. (“We’re so proud, look at what he’s accomplished” or “Don’t you try to boss me around, you little punk — I wiped your nose for you when you were little” — I can imagine it going either way)

      • John Borstlap says:

        He has been back in Amsterdam in May and it was a beautiful concert. An earlier guest appearance with the orchestra was in 2017 which I attended and which was wonderful. As far as I have understood, the orchestra was very happy with him.

  • A Chicagoan says:

    Bernard Haitink. Tanned, rested, and ready.

  • RFMZ says:

    Esa-Pekka Salonen

    • fierywoman says:

      You are joking, aren’t you? In LA half the orchestra hated his guts for many years. In Berlin they never asked him back (and never will.)

  • Jonathan Cable says:

    As far as Pelléas is concerned, there is one guy out there who would totally nail it: Louis Langrée.

  • Ben LEGEBEKE says:

    Jaap van Zweden is the only choice….

    • Pilgrim says:

      I wonder whether the former colleagues would want JvZweden as their boss or not.

      • Robert Holmén says:

        It’s been 23 years since JvZ left the concertmaster post.

        I would bet that more than 50% of those present in 1995 have either retired or moved on.

        For a lot of them it’s probably “Jaap who?”

        • John Borstlap says:

          If there are players in the RCO who never heard of JvZw they don’t belong in that orchestra. Even the players of the National Orchestra of Patagonia know who JvZw is (they all regularly read SD).

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Jaap van Zweden is unlikely since he has only just taken the job in New York. Most likely would be guest conductors filling in for the next year or two, doing one-or-two concerts each, before a permanent appointment.

      It would likely take at least a year-or-two for any top-rank conductor to complete their current commitments before they could take the Concertgebouw orchestra full-time. (Harding is the only one I can think who probably is free, although I am sure some here would dispute whether he is really at the top level).

  • Ben says:

    Let’s hire JvZ. I can’t wait to see him out of town!

  • Pedro says:

    If Haitink is not available they should invite Yannick or Thielemann for Bruckner 3, Salonen for Mahler 7 and Strauss, and Muti or Barenboim for the Brahms concerts.

    • Arameo says:

      More of the same¡ people are not bored of the interpretation of Haitink Muti and Barenboim?

      • Rolf Prejean says:

        I heard Haitinks Brahms and Beethoven and ofcourse Bruckner, anything but boring. His Brahms and Beethoven even fresher than ever before.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Haitink is around 90, and increasingly frail. He really would not be able to take on the Concertgebouw fulltime. He can only really do the occasional concert these days.

  • Feurich says:

    Just look at programming past few years. Short concerts, unimaginative, repetitive ( Mahler 1 at two points in season). He didn’t make the most of this opportunity and someone in the business warned me last year he would not last. They were waiting for a reason and it came. They now need to choose carefully. Say what you will of Rattle, he created interest with his programs and had ideas. Gatti had no evident ideas.

    • J, Froberger says:

      Rattle and the RCO will not work. Rattle conducted the RCO once, in 1986. Mahler 10. A big disappointment. Has never returned, while guest-conducting the Rotterdam Phil…
      The RCO and Rattle were very confused about each other.
      (read the book of Nicholas Kenyon-Simon Rattle: the making of a conductor)

  • Hermann the German says:

    What about Christian Thielemann. Nobody has mentioned ihm yet.

    • barry guerrero says:

      Why would he? The Staatskapelle is excellent – right up there with the best of the best. They give him pretty much whatever he wants in Dresden.

    • Pedro says:

      I did. Apart from Bayreuth he only conducts two operas in Dresden and one in Vienna plus less than 20 concerts a year. It would be an excellent choice indeed.

      • John Borstlap says:

        An authoritarian German who is also a Wagner specialist would not be the first thing to think about for Amsterdam.

        • Patrick says:

          Thielemann is more than a Wagner specialist. He once did a fantastic Schonberg Pelleas in Amsterdam that the orchestra loved. He is also quite good in French repertoire.

          • Pedro says:

            And he is very good in Bruckner and, perhaps unexpectedly, in Mahler, judging from a recent issue of the Mahler 10 first movement with the MPO. Two composers with a long Amsterdam history.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            I saw Thielemann conduct the Schönberg P+M last year in Dresden, and it was astonishingly good. I was just in town for one concert, but it was so good, I decided to stay two more days and hear all three performances. They also did the Ravel concerto (for both hands) with Trifonov, and the prelude from Fauré’s P+M, and that showed that Thielemann was indeed able to handle the subtle textures of those pieces very well, too – which wasn’t really a surprise anyway, since that’s essentially the same quality which made the performance of the Schönberg so good.

          • Olassus says:

            He is not stable enough for ideal Wagner. Better at Beethoven and Bruckner, with stability built in, or Schumann and Strauss, where his flair and imagination can take flight.

        • Herman the German says:

          Remember Mengelberg ? Was he not an eminent Wagnerian, or only a Mahlerian ?

          • John Borstlap says:

            Yes, I think he was a German himself too, but all of that was OK before the Brown Period.

            As for Thielemann and French repertoire: that is true, I once heard a very good Jeux (Debussy) by him, what you would not immediately expect. I even think it was with the KCO.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          “An authoritarian German who is also a Wagner specialist would not be the first thing to think about for Amsterdam.”

          That’s a very silly comment even by your standards, John.

          • John Borstlap says:

            One can be a Wagner specialist in Holland but one should never be authoritarian AND German there. Local folklore.

    • Hans van der Zanden says:

      Indeed – that’s Barenboim and Rattle front runners

  • Alkagepy says:

    Why not Currentzis? Fits perfect and is time for RCO to get away from their comfort zone. It’s one of the greatest orchestras and now is the time to take a risk.

    • Daphne Badger says:

      Because he is a charlatan, and no more fit to stand in front of the world’s finest orchestra than a weasel.

  • Simon Scott says:

    Bloody conductors. Most are nowt but cheating charlatans.
    I loathe and despise the stinkingly arrogant inferior lot of them.
    As the great violinist Pablo de Sarasate said; ” if there is no orchestra,would those little men with their little white sticks still get paid?”

    • Alkagepy says:

      Don’t find this comment really true. If there was no Kleiber would we have heard Brahms 2nd? If no Harnoncourt and Gardiner would we have Haydn, Bach and many other precious recordings? And of course there are many others too who deserve credit for their contribution

  • Tommy Wikström says:

    Only fools here? This name-dropping of conductors can be made by any fool.

    It would be much more interesting to read comments from those who know the orchestra, it’s weakness and strengths and what they need to improve and move on into the future. If you end up with some kind of analyze here, name-dropping may very well have a value.

  • Arameo says:

    Why not fresh and less known but very brilliant Rafael Payare

  • Hans van der Zanden says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised when KCO is already ‘at speaking terms’ with Sir Simon…

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Simon Rattle is extremely unlikely. He has only just gone to the LSO, to which he is committed (he gave up the Berlin Phil to go to London).

  • Svl says:

    Just one name: Currentzis. The best Mahler of this day. Please, give him the baton of the RCO. Perfect combination

  • Pedro says:

    Gatti is a splendid conductor. I have heard him in opera ( Trovatore, Otello, Falstaff, Tristan, Meistersinger, Parsifal, Salome and Elektra ) and in concert more than 30 times in Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich, Bayreuth and elsewhere. I knew he was one of the greats the first time I heard him in opera – Otello in Vienna. No more than three minutes were needed for that. I hope to hear him again when all these disputes are settled – in the courts preferably ( that’s what they exist for ).

    • Vittorio Di Paola says:

      Perfect comment!

      • Pedro says:

        I hope that La Scala, the Teatro dell’Opera and Santa Cecilia will maintain their commitment to Gatti until courts settle these questions. The same for other organisations as the Leipzig Gewandhaus ( I have tickets for the February 22 concert ) and the Baden Baden Osterfestspiele.

        • Vittorio Di Paola says:

          La Scala, Opera of Rome, Accademia Santa Cecilia are serious institutions. They dont fire people on the base of a Washington Post’s article. Nobody will come to you after that, don’t make efforts to imagine great and unavailable conductors.

          • Gianni Morelenbaum Gualberto says:

            No institution in the world would fire anybody just for a newspaper’s article, c’mon, let’s not be nationalistic, otherwise we become ridiculous. Something happened between Gatti and the Concertgebouw (which is a serious institution), something that seems to go beyond #metoo. I don’t know if Mr. Gatti is a womanizer, but relationship between a chief conductor and an orchestra, even if you previously had been invited dozens of times as a guest, can by tricky and complex. Something went wrong, and from the letter by the Concertgebouw that circulated -and which sounded pretty emotional and rather unclear for Dutch standards- we may argue that something went very badly wrong, probably amounting to more than one reason, and not certainly just Washington Post’s article. Or maybe the article may have prompted other people to come to the fore about Mr. Gatti’s behavior. We don’t know, lawyers and courts exist for that reason.

  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    Yesterday in London’s RAH he conducted a brilliant (R.) Strauss-Heldenleben, an evocative Dvorak-Cello Concerto ánd a stunning opera-overture by E.Smyth (!) with the BBC Orchestra of Wales.
    Again brilliant, for less than this is almost impossible for this in every inch a maestro: we do like to see Mr.Otto Tausk working in Amsterdam!
    See: http://www.ottotausk.com and more by Google et cetera.

  • Eyal Braun says:

    I think Ivan Fischer is a natural choice. He conducts the orchestra regularly, often with wonderful results.During the recent decade he was music director of other orchestras (except the BFO), he does not like guest conducting a lot so perhaps he is not as busy as other candidates mentioned here.

  • Rolf den otter says:

    Ed Spanjaard would be a good “inbetween-choice”. Not well known outside the Netherlands, but very fine conductor.


  • Laconic says:

    Bernard Haitink, Esa Pekka Salonen or Jaap Van Zweden. Remarkable men!

  • Conducting Feminista says:

    Sooner or later, all male conductors will be fired from their jobs as music directors and be replaced entirely by women. Conducting is becoming a woman profession.

    • Tamino says:

      Your sarcasm is duely noted.
      Obviously you are not serious, because such unlawful measures could only happen totalitarian dictatorships.

  • Tamino says:

    So what did he actually do?
    “Inappropriate experiences” sounds vague, yet it’s all the public is told.
    Has Amsterdam fallen for the in nature totalitarian ideology of #metoo?

    Or do they just use it as their leverage to get rid of an by now unwanted chief conductor?

    • barry guerrero says:

      “Or do they just use it as their leverage to get rid of an by now unwanted chief conductor?” . . .

      That’s what I suspect. There just seems to be too much controversy surrounding Gatti, with or without #metoo. Personally, I think they need someone fiery like him to shake them out of their complacency (especially after Jansons). I just don’t think the Dutch like the drama.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Have you thought that they aren’t obliged to disclose the details of their disciplinary hearing for your amusement. And the other parties may not want the details to become public knowledge (especially given the revolting behaviour of internet trolls).

      It seems clear, nevertheless, that Gatti’s behaviour towards his female colleagues was deemed “inappropriate” and that it warranted dismissal. Making the details public would almost certainly break the law.

      • Tamino says:

        So how convenient. All you need to get rid of a conductor you for whatever reason don’t want to wait out the end of his contract, is a few unnamed “allegations”. That’s it. Fired.
        In a court of law it would then, without witnesses, be word against word.
        Reinstatement is always impossible, since the chief conductor position requires trust. The conductor loses. Best case gets monetary compensation, but not enough to repair his damaged reputation.
        What a shitty world this post-rule-of-law world has become.

        • John Borstlap says:

          I think it is a bit more complex than this. The world of an orchestra is something like a little community under a glass bell and very different from the world outside. Conductors who abuse their position to violate players’ ego boundaries are somehow ‘protected’ from the more cool gaze which reigns outside, and they would not get away with such things so easily in a factory or bank office. That is why it is good that players speak-up and object to being treated in a dehumanizing way.

  • Gregor Tassie says:

    Markus Poschner

  • Anthony Kershaw says:

    Lots of turnover in that orchestra, horn and trumpet especially.

    And though the BRSO is a very fine orchestra, I was surprised Jansons would choose it over the RCO and the hall. Money, maybe?

    It’s such a great group. I’d nominate Harding or Jurowski, and was always surprised they went for Gatti.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      The SOBR simply has a somewhat richer, deeper sound, something that appeals to Jansons and that he commented on. The Concertgebouworkest is still a great orchestra, but they have, unfortunately, more or less completely lost their once very distinct sound and playing style.

      • Rolf Prejean says:

        when you heard them the last time in their Hall?
        A famous conductor said: an orchestra has no sound, the conductor brings the sound with him.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          That’s one of those pseudo-smart quotes (some) people like to toss around. There is (some) truth in that, but the Concertgebouworkest used to have a rather distinctive sound and ensemble style until the 80s, maybe early 90s or so. That is now more or less completely gone, even though the quality of the playing and the ensemble culture are still very high.

          To answer your question: a little less than three months ago in May, when I heard them play Symphonie fantastique with Blomstedt twice (and Berwald’s 3rd in one of the concerts).

          • rolf says:

            Well, if you go there regularly, it is easy to compare the sound from the (recordings or memory) 80’s and 90’s to the present sound. For example, listen to the Kerstmatinees on DVD and compare their Mahler. I would say, they made a huge improvement, specially in the winds/brass. The strings are still at top level. Last, lets say, 15 years I heard them with Jansons, lots of Haitink, Gatti, Blomstedt, Bychkov, etc., in repertoire like Sacre, Petrouchka, Mahler2,3,4,5,6,7,8, 9, Bruckner4,5,7,8,9, Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss. And yes, I also heard BRSO, NYPh, CSO, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, SFSO, SkD, NDR, WDR, Bayreuther Festspielorchester, LFO, to name some. I think RCO is a very special orchestra at the top.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            And what’s so very “special” about them now, that more or less all traces of the once very distinctive sound are gone?

  • rolf says:

    Times change, orchestral musicians and instruments develop over the years, they just sound 10x better than in the 70’s/80’s

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      That doesn’t answer my question. The overall level of technical expertise and polish is no doubt somewhat higher than 30-40 years ago, that really applies to most if not all first class professional orchestras now, but “10x better” is definitely way over the top.

      You may also like the way they sound now better, that kind of highly polished globalized sound, that’s totally fine if that’s your preference and taste, but you can not say that they still sound as distinctive and recognizable as they used to back then. You certainly wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from lots of other good orchestras in a blind test now. And you said yourself “an orchestra has no sound” – or maybe you just don’t hear those stylistic differences (where they still exist).

      But again, that doesn’t answer my question. I don’t think there is an answer to it. So going back to my original comment (or response to the previous comment), I don’t think it’s a big surprise that Jansons decided to focus on his work in Munich where he has an equally high level, but more distinctive orchestra to work with.

      • Rolf says:

        You are certainly a person who likes to discuss things that are very difficult to define. I hear this orchestra very regular and I know how they sound now and how they sounded in the past. Im not a musicologist, neither a critic. I’m a musician and not able to put into words what I really hear or want to hear. I just know what I hear and dont want to hear. About Jansons making the choice for BRSO: this can have many reasons which are only speculations here anyway, as is the reason to start this whole discussion, that started over Gatti. We just dont know.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          Yes, I do like to discuss music. That’s why I happen to be here, in the comments section of a music blog. 😉
          Do you like to discuss music, too, or is someone forcing you to participate here? 🙂

          And yes, these things are difficult to “define” but maybe not too difficult to “circumscribe”. But remember, you were the one who offered the opinion that this orchestra is “a very special orchestra at the top”. But you haven’t even attempted to “describe”, or at least “circumscribe” *what* is is that you find so special.

          And I think the question I asked is very relevant in this context, as this orchestra *used* to have a fairly distinct sound, but it doesn’t have that anymore – regardless of whether you liked the “old” sound better, or prefer the new one. That’s a different discussion. Or not, as that would be a discussion about taste and preference. Or not, because you seem to think that “an orchestra has no sound, the conductor brings the sound with him”. Which I think is nonsense. But again, a different discussion.

          So, is there any specific or at least good reason for why you offered the opinion “very special at the top”? I mean, other than uncritical local patriotism, and what you are used to the most?
          You seemed to think that my opinion that it is still a great orchestra, but not one with really distinguishing (or “special”) features was based on not having heard them live recently, but that wasn’t the case – I actually just happened to be on a little concert going “tour” on which I also heard the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Budapest Festival Orchestra just days before. And those orchestras played on a very high and refined level, too, but they sounded more distinctive (in their different ways) than the Concertgebouworkest. And I can even “circumscribe” how, if you want. But that’s maybe a different discussion, too…

          • Melisande says:

            Beauty/sound are in the eye/ear of the beholder.
            Cliché as it may sound, but perception is a subjective experience.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Yes, that is no doubt true, but at the same time, it is, as you said yourself, also just an empty cliché which doesn’t add anything to the discussion, Melisande – especially since I already took that into account. Several times and explicitly. I didn’t ask Rolf to “explain” or “justify” his personal preferences. But thanks for pointing out the very obvious anyway.
            Still, beyond personal tastes and preferences, there is a whole lot more there when it comes to orchestral and ensemble styles, past and present. I think it is not generally well understood how important the elements of style and craftsmanship are in that very big field.

          • Ben says:

            Dear Mr. Schaffer, I understand that this comments are from almost two years ago, but if you somehow see this, I have a question. So you kept repeating how RCO/KCO lost their distinctive sound and playing style, could you just describe what they are to me? I am not being sarcastic, I just want to know what you really heard from older RCO that you don’t hear from them anymore.

            P.s, are you a music critic? your comments are much more detailed than the most