Of all German maestros, this is Conductor of the Year?

Of all German maestros, this is Conductor of the Year?


norman lebrecht

September 05, 2018

If you had to choose top stick of 2018 at Germany’s 130 orchestras and 80-odd opera houses, who would it be?

Kirill Petrenko and Christian Thielemann would head any shortlist.

Followed by the senior guys Eschenbach, Dohnanyi, Blomstedt.

And maybe the upcoming Joanna Mallwitz, Marc Albrecht, David Afkham. (Any other candidates?)

Well, the new national Opus Klassik award has just opened the envelope.

And the 2018 Conductor of the Year is….

Cornelius Meister.

He’s 38 and GMD in Stuttgart.


  • Nik says:

    For the sake of completeness, you should mention that the prize has been awarded for a specific recording of his, the complete symphonies of Martinů with the Vienna RSO, where he is Principal Conductor.

    • buxtehude says:

      Now That sounds exciting! And a double nod to Bohuslav.

    • Peter says:

      Exactly. The Opus Klassik awards are for recordings. And thus the “conductor of the year” award is supposed to recognise a conductor’s recorded interpretation of a work. Congratulations to Cornelius Meister: I will look out for those recordings.

      Meanwhile, Norman’s contemptuous tone in the headline and post raise a number of questions. Was he aware of the nature of the “conductor of the year” award? Has he listened to Meister’s Martinů cycle? Does he have any views on those recordings? Would he like to share those views with his readers? Would he like to identify the specific recordings by Petrenko and Thielemann that he thinks ought to have won instead?

      • Max Grimm says:

        “Was he aware…”
        I don’t know, but he appears to have forgone mentioning other prize winners to whom he is generally more favourably inclined or has posted about recently…Daniil Trifonov, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Emmanuel Tjeknavorian, Martha Argerich & Sergei Babayan, Marin Alsop, the Israel Chamber Orchestra (along with other artists for the world’s first recording of Walter Braunfels’ “Ulenspiegel”), Lisa Batiashvili (with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the COE) to name a few.

  • RW2013 says:

    Marc Albrecht upcoming?!
    He’s 54.

  • Sue says:


  • Been Here Before says:

    I wrote my initial comment under the wrong post.

    Based on what I heard on Saturday at the Proms, Petrenko should be on the top of any list. A superb conductor – calm, but serious and confident. Also, no question of his charisma and chemistry with the players!

  • Ricardo says:

    I have the CD box with the Martinu symphonies and it is excellent.
    These polls are pretty silly in any case but it is good when new talent and, particularly, artists who do something “different” and do it well, get attention and recognition. I find it annoying when well recognised, long stablished and wealthy artists keep getting prizes (particularly monetary ones) they do not need.
    So I say, good for Herr. Meister, and keep up the good work!

  • Pedro says:

    Cornelius Meister conducted Parsifal superbly in Antwerp last season.

    • Robert Groen says:

      Odd looking production, though…

    • David Hilton says:

      And he conducted the greatest of all Ring cycles in 2013, the year of all the Wagner bicentenary celebrations. That he conducted it in the only city where Wagner was music of the opera may be of additional interest. It’s a good pub quiz answer anyway: Riga.

  • Johan Korssell says:

    Herbert Blomstedt is a Swedish conductor, though quite germanic in his musical profile.

    • Bill says:

      That was my reaction to the misleading headline as well. But the article itself clarifies that he is talking about conductors of German groups, for which one doesn’t necessarily have to be German.

      • Nik says:

        It is true that Maestro Meister is German, and has a job in Stuttgart.
        BUT the award is for a recording he made with an Austrian orchestra.
        Is anyone confused yet?

  • David R Osborne says:

    Excellent conductor, and relates well to audiences.

  • Tamino says:

    Just ignore those prices, they are meaningless. Particularly Echo/Opus.
    Have a look at the Jury. That itself will tell you what this price is all about.
    But Meister is a good conductor, regardless what that jury thinks.
    Why not Blomstedt, Thielemann, Petrenko?
    Because Jurys made up in their majority of business managers have a tendency to promote potential, not to award achievement. (except in the life time achievement category)

  • John Rook says:

    Shouldn’t that be ‘Is this’ to warrant the question mark? I worked with CM when he was GMD designate in Heidelberg. Very promising even then; looks like he’s fulfilling his potential.

    • Nik says:

      No, the question mark works either way. The meaning would be different.
      “Is this…?” is a true question, with the intention of finding out an answer.
      “THIS is…?” is an incredulous questioning of a known fact.

  • May says:

    Dear Norman, the headline (click-bait?) is disrespectful to Meister. Anyone who has followed his meteoric ascent over the past twenty years knows that he is a phenomenal musician. Forget about all of the pretty-face conductors (including Mallwitz, his former assistant in Heidelberg): he can conduct the entire operatic repertoire, and should the orchestra ever go on strike, he could play the entire score at the piano while conducting.

  • Jackyt says:

    Hooray! His conducting of Werther in Zurich was thrilling. I saw the production live twice and now watch the dvd over and over. No other conductor’s interpretation of the score matches his for sensitivity and excitement. Definitely one to watch!

  • Myrtar says:

    The jury of the board are the chairmen of the very same recording companies, literally patting themselves on the back. Sorry, but this “new” award looks new but smells old, like it’s Nazi sympathizer predecessor: Echo.