What NY Phil players did to first-night Jaap

What NY Phil players did to first-night Jaap


norman lebrecht

September 21, 2018

They gave him a grown-up version of Chairman Mao’s little red book.

Actually, Beethoven’s 5th symphony, bound in red silk (he probably needs a spare).

The inscription reads:

In recognition of a new beginning at the New York Philharmonic

on the occasion of your inaugural concert as Music Director


We present this facsimile of the very score of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony,

from which Ureli Corelli Hill conducted at the Orchestra’s launch 176 years ago.


Just as that performance marked a new era of music-making in America,

we embrace the new era that you bring to the New York Philharmonic,

to New York City, to the United States, and to the world.


Welcome to the New York Philharmonic Family

September 20, 2018

photo: Adam Crane


  • Jonathan Dunsby says:

    ==Ureli Corelli Hill conducted at the Orchestra’s launch 176 years ago.

    Now that’s a name you don’t hear very often. Hopefully Jaap won’t overdose on morphine like his illustrious predessesor UCH did.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Touching gesture.

    • Robert Groen says:

      I was half hoping he might renege on his NY contract and move to his Alma Mater, the Concertgebouw, now that Gatti has been hounded out. Just kidding.

      • eduardo marturet says:

        …we could have both! 😉

        • Robert Groen says:

          Glad to make your acquaintance, Mr. Marturet! I think I remember you as the maestro who recorded the Mozart violin concertos with the RCO and Emmy Verhey as soloist. Are you still active as a conductor?

          • eduardo marturet says:

            sorry, I meant to say:
            …he could have both!

            You do remember well Mr. Groen, I was indeed the conductor and you were the producer of these fine recordings with Emmy Verhey and the RCO.
            Greetings from South Florida where I have been Music Director of the Miami Symphony Orchestra for the last 13 years.

          • Rob Groen says:

            It is becoming a bit annoying to read comments from Robert Groen as my name is also Rob(ert) Groen!! and I was between 1994 and 2005 Jaap van Zweden’s (General)Manager.. and that also was the case for Eduardo Marturet! So I do apologize both to Jaap and Eduardo as in the comments of the other “Groen” appeared something negative as this is the very first! time I react here
            Rob Groen

          • eduardo marturet says:

            So glad the “real” Robert Groen finally appeared…!
            Thank you Rob for supporting and making the career of so many artists.

        • eduardo narturet says:

          sorry, I meant to say:

          …he could have both!

          • Rob Groen says:

            Hi Eduardo; I vividly remember all the wonderful CD’s you recorder apart from all Mozart violinconcetos with Emmy Verhey and the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra.
            Many of them in the famous Jesus Christus Kirche with the Berliner Symphoniker(All Brahms symphonies, both pianoconcerts and violin concerto) helling also do many young very talentful artists.
            Those were the days with Verdi Records!

          • Robert Groen says:

            This is getting a bit complicated! 🙂 Hello Rob Groen, I know very well who you are and the business you’re in. Believe me, I’m not trying to steal your identity or impersonate you. I an a Dutch music lover, just like you, but I was in a different business from you. I worked for Radio Netherlands for 35 years and, would you believe, there were people then who thought I was you! We do, though, seem to have things in common. I’m a fervent admirer of Emmy Verhey, I think she never quite got the recognition she deserved and (worst of all) her recording career, as you and Mr. Marturet will agree, was a shambles. Minor labels (good performances!) but as Holland’s prime violinist (which she was for quite some time after the Krebbers era) she has been shamefully neglected. Why she was never contracted by a major domestic label (Philips?) is beyond me, unless it was her own choice. Still, I hold her in high regard.
            So, Rob Groen, I can’t help that my name is Rob Groen. Sometimes these things happen. It might be nice for us to meet up some time, just for a laugh. And Mr. Marturet: glad to know you.

  • NICODEMUS says:

    Sigh…Americans are so self-centered!

    “the new era that you bring to the New York Philharmonic, to New York City, to the United States, and to THE WORLD!”

    The usual “NYC is the center of the World!” nonsense.
    Only New Yorkers think that. The rest of us think, it’s filthy, crowded, loud and poorly aged.
    Your Philharmonic hasn’t meant what it use to mean “to the world”, for at least 20 years.
    Get over yourselves.

  • Fiddlist says:

    Get ready for a massive let-down.

  • mr oakmountain says:

    A strange headline and rather unkind description (“little red book”, “needs a spare”) for what I think is a very nice and appropriate idea for a gift. Why the sarcasm?

    • BillG says:

      After all, this is the National Inquirer of the Arts. Would you expect less?

    • John Borstlap says:

      Norman does not like JvZw as a conductor. He is skeptical about his qualities, and finds serious flaws with him and thinks the hype around the man is exaggerated. I don’t agree at all and my impression is that Norman does not hear the things which are truly great with this conductor. I knew about JvZw when he still was a violinist and was skeptical as well at the time, and for that reason had not paid much attention to his beginning a conducting career. But when I got by chance an early recording of the Brahms symphonies by the Netherlands Philharmonic in my hands, I was immediately convinced that this was an extraordinary talent. Some of his qualities are: strong feeling for the great arch in form, emotional depth (sometimes painfully so) and achieving both grandeur and clarity as in his Bruckner, and ‘unexpected’ refinements in small details of the textures. He is an instinctive musician demonstrating that in the musical instinct, there can be lots of intellectual clarity and aesthetic refinements and a profound sense of order, and a bright awareness of the flow of the narrative. His concert performance of Parsifal in Amsterdam is one of my cherished videos:


      Norman’s perceptions are defined by a very different temperament, and critics of Van Zweden approach his music making also from another temperamental point. Fair enough. There are enough reactions which are jubilant, so there is ample compensation, and the conductor who pleases everyone is, most of the time, a bland conventionalist. But I say: those critics are wrong. V Zweden is, musically, a German temperament, enriched by modernity, which is one of the best aesthetic positions for a conductor to have.

      • Robert Groen says:

        That performance, with Vogt and Dalayman (among others) was later isued on CD and received very good reviews. As for the NYPhil. I think that it no longer has the stature it once enjoyed. I wouldn’t today rank it among the world’s ten best.Maybe the glory days ended after Kurt Masur, I don’t know. I trust van Zweden to put them back on the map. Still, I always preferred the athletic, transparent sound of the Boston Phil to the heavier, more cluttered utterances of the New Yorkers.

        • John Borstlap says:

          That’s because of the architecture. As Leon Krier, the famous architect said: when you build up in great heights, you get congestion on the ground and that gets on peoples’ nerves. It creates a certain emotional climate.

          In cities with more ground floor space, people find their way through shared space more easily:


  • David A. Boxwell says:

    I have a foreboding feeling this will all end in tears. . .

    • John Borstlap says:

      You read too much NY history – and times have changed. The NY Phil makes the best of a difficult period ahead with the refurbishing of the hall and turn the challenges into assets, like more accessibility, reaching-out to new audiences, increase visibility and lower ticket price tresholds on special occasions, etc. It seems to me that the two people at the helm of this ship, JvZweden and D Borda, are entirely capable of creating a renaissance. There won’t be an ‘easy routine’.

      • John Borstlap says:


        It is the misunderstandings of critics which can provide extra obstacles, like Alex Ross who – on vZweden’s appointment announcement – immediately began with complaints (which were entirely unfounded ignorant as he was about vZw’s many explorations of new music). A symphony orchestra in a city which is a cultural symbol of modern progress, has special identity difficulties with the repertoire which are less prominent in other cities. But I’m sure JvZweden can handle these things percectly well.


  • BillG says:

    From what I’ve picked up JvZ was greeted warmly and with enthusiasm at the start of his tenure with the DSO. One incident caused some issues between the orchestra and him.

    So what does the future hold for him with the NYP. Lots of ways to speculate but no ways to know. Most optimistic is that he has learned and will grow as a manager of people as well as a manager of performance.

    We can all guess, but will not to the answer until time reveals it.

  • barry guerrero says:

    let’s have some perspective. When you have one of the world’s great orchestras play Beethoven’s 5th on an opening night, designed to showcase your new conductor . . . well, pretty much anybody is going to be very well received.

    Just speaking for myself, JvZ’s recording of Bruckner 8 is my personal favorite – yes, over Karajan, Giulini, Furtwaengler, Bohm, Jochum, Harnoncourt, Kurt Eichhorn, every other recording I’ve ever heard.

    • John Borstlap says:

      JvZw has Bruckner in his bones. I always have difficulties with those symphonies, but listening to his recording of nr 3 and 6 convinced me positively.