Just in: Oslo names boyish chief conductor

Just in: Oslo names boyish chief conductor


norman lebrecht

October 03, 2018

The Finnish wunderkind Klaus Mäkelä will become Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Oslo Philharmonic from August 2020.

He is presently principal guest conductor at Swedish Radio, artistic director of the Turku Music Festival and is Artist in Association with the Tapiola Sinfonietta – quite a lot for a lad of 22.


He is marketed by HarrisonParrott.

He succeeds Vasily Petrenko, who moves to London’s RPO.


  • Steve says:

    I don’t know him too well but based on this he appears to be excellent, best wishes to him:

  • Steve says:

    I don’t know him too well but based on this he appears to be excellent, best wishes to him:

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Congratulations, Klaus! It will be exciting to witness your collaboration with this orchestra. Good luck!!

  • Enquiring mind wants to know says:

    Yesterday a “Texan” chief, today a “boyish” chief. What kind of chief will be next?

  • msc says:

    I have hear/seen him conduct through European videos (such as the GSO’s) and he clearly has talent. But there is still a part of me that thinks 23 is too young for a relatively major post (although greater Oslo is only about a million people, I would say the orchestra’s reputation and quality make it punch above its weight, so to speak). Can any twenty-three-year-old really have the depth required, or will he be learning an awful lot on the job? Will the quality of the music making be as consistent as it might be with a more experienced conductor? Would he be wiser to hone his craft in a provincial opera house for ten more years? I don’t know the answers, I’m just asking….

  • william osborne says:

    Hopefully people will notice the cultural infrastructure that advances the careers of so many Nordic conductors and composers. The USA has a very weak classical music infrastructure, hence our relative lack of conductors and composers on the world stage. Finland has more even though our population is 64 times larger.

    Finland has 15 essentially full time, professional orchestras for a country of 5.4 million. (Some close up for part of the summer season.) That’s one orchestra for every 366,00 people, a much better ratio than even Germany and Austria. Turku, for example, has an essentially full time orchestra even though the city only has a population of 174,000. In 2010 these orchestras performed 268 works by Finish composers. Municipalities pay 48% of the costs for these orchestras, states 29%, and the Finish Radio 10%. Most of the rest comes from earned income.

    Helsinki has two full time symphony orchestras and a full time opera house for a population of 600,000. (New York City would have 39 full time, year-round professional orchestras by a comparable per capita basis. California would have 183.)

    It’s no wonder this tiny country floods the world with prominent classical musicians. You get what you pay for.

    • william osborne says:

      The full time Turku Philharmonic has 74 members. Its GMD is Leif Segerstam. A city of 174,000.

      • Sue says:

        Let’s think about this; a nation which has only circa 6 hours of daylight during deep winter months (less if you live further north than Helsinki), is small in number and largely confined indoors for winter could be the reason for greater cultural engagement. To my knowledge the USA is far more of an ‘out-doorsy’ nation, with longer daylight hours, a huge population and this would account for significant cultural differences.

    • anon says:

      How many films and TV series does Finland produce per year?

      And Nobel prize winners? Since we’re in the midst of the Nobel Prize season.

      • John says:

        I can only say about Nobel prizes. 2 in the last 10 years.
        For a population of 6 million citizens that’s actually pretty good.
        France with a ten times more people have only 7 in the last 10 years.
        UK with 65 millions has 18…. and Germany 6. I have the feeling they’re not that far behind.

      • Jean says:

        I haven’t counted. 3 Nobel prize winners.
        But your point is…. ?

        • Nobels says:

          It’s actually 4 Nobels:
          Frans Emil Sillanpää (literature)
          Artturi Ilmari Virtanen (chemistry)
          Martti Ahtisaari (peace)
          Bengt Holmström (economics)

          And of course is always good to check the ratios per capita whether it was Nobels, films or conductors.

          Proud of them and proud of Klaus!

          Best wishes from Finland.

      • Tamino says:

        Films and TV series are mostly primarily commercial undertakings. It’s a business, not so much culture.
        People thinking of the film industry as a cultural assett expose a thorough lack of cultural education.

      • Nik says:

        The question of “how many films” is a gross insult to the country that has Aki Kaurismäki.
        Quality, not quantity. Thank you.

  • Andreas C. says:

    Mäkelä is obscenely talented, and does surprisingly mature interpretations given his youth. I’ve seen him conduct Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Beethoven’s 1st this season, both with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, and particularly the Beethoven interpretation was extremely crisp and energetic, emphasising but not overplaying the embryonic Beethoven-isms present in it.

    He will naturally mature in the coming years and I expect that his movements on the podium will get more economical (not that there would be much to complain about, but I feel he would accomplish musically the same results with less gestures), but all in all one gets the impression he’s definitely ready for a major engagement.

  • Novagerio says:

    “Artistic Advisor”? At the age of merely 23?…The markets are certainly pushing forward a sort of “Baby-boom” on the podiums. Who’s going to mostly profit from that?
    Good luck either way!!