Orchestra musician is fired for allegedly hitting the boss

The small Swedish town of Jönköping is ablaze with controversy after a musician in the Jönköpings Sinfonietta was fired after an incident that took place during an internal meeting.

Afterwards, the operating manager of the Kulturhuset Spira said he was attacked by the musician, known as Magnus, and demanded his dismissal.  Two days later Magnus was fired.

His supporters say there were 15 witnesses in the room, 12 of whom do not think he hit the boss.

A concert with Stefan Dohr was reduced in content due to low morale in the orchestra.

Hashtags with #where is Magnus? are flying around.

Here’s a local report.

UPDATE: Support rolls in from US musicians.

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  • He didn’t hit the boss. He merely put his hand on the boss’s shoulder in the middle of a discussion, something the boss apparently thought of as patronising and threatening behaviour.
    Some brass players in Sweden are posing with their hands on each other’s shoulders as a sign of solidarity for this Magnus.
    At least, that’s how I understood it.

      • Hi John, the incident did not happen in a rehearsal, so no instruments were involved. The meeting went on as if nothing had happened after what was now being called a ‘threatening’ gesture. It took them two days to come up with the idea of ‘violence at work’, with not a single warning nor any sort of investigation.

        One extra note, Per-Ola himself was once a professional brass player as well…

    • Um…technically speaking, if you touch someone who does not want to be touched, it is assault. You are not actually allowed to “touch someone’s shoulder”, and many people would take offense or feel it was threatening, even if the perpetrator did not intend that kind of reaction.

  • Hello Norman Lebrecht could you please edit the information that the concert was cancelled?

    It wasn’t,there is probably a review of it on Jönköping Posten. Though, the orchestra didn’t play the full program since Magnus was pulled out two days before the concert and there was not enough time to rehearse (it was lot of emergency meetings going on).

    The orchestra has 14 witnesses saying Magnus put his hands on bosses arms (called Per-Ola) while saying hello. There was no sighn of struggle and the two were having a conversation for a while afterwards.The dismissal came as complite shock and neither Magnus or anyone in the orchestra expected this kind of actions from the leadership.

    The Jönköping region leader made a decision to suspend Magnus based on a report from 3 witnesses- The main boss of the house Per-Ola,the orchestra chef Gabriella,and a HR of the house Sandra.

    Week later after the suspention there was a meeting between the regions boss and the musicians Union (SYMF) on which the decition was made that Magnus will be fiered. Although the orchestra delivered 14 witnesses statmens NON was read by the regions boss on that meeting.

    Union is working hard on contacting local politicians and metting with working law institutions trying to make a point of the irrationality of the desition. The orchestra is getting a lot of support from musicians and music lovers spreading the news with hashtags #backamagnus (support Magnus) #varärmagnus (Where is Magnus),pictures and videos of fellow musicians keeping their hands on each other arms in act of protest to Magnuses loss of work for a simple gesture of greeting.

      • Magnus plays the trumpet. The trumpeter that were supposed to play the part instead of him refused to do it when he got information about why the replacement was needed.

          • The manager’s version of the story exaggerates the situation and paints the musician as violent, while fourteen other witnesses in the room describes the same situation as the musician does – which is that he put his hands on the manager’s shoulders and asked him: what are you doing? Calmly and without any violence whatsoever. As to why they wanted to fire him, only the managers themselves can answer that. One thing to keep in mind is that this is a union matter and the manager have shown reluctance working together with the union before. The musician would in this scenario just function as a symbol, and if the managers get what they want, this gives a clear signal to the union and their members that they should keep their mouths shut if they want to keep their jobs.

  • The concert with Mr. Dohr wasn’t cancelled. He played Mozart and Strauss concerti and an encore piece, too. We were so lucky to hear him live in this part of Sweden. He was just amazing that evening. However, it was the ‘Der bürger als edelmann’ by Strauss being cancelled. It would have been the main symphonic piece after intermission played only by the orchestra. The change of programme makes more sense to us now. I could imagine performing after what had happened was not easy for the musicians!

    Also, the hashtag is #backamagnus. Musicians in Sweden are showing their support on social media.

  • All Swedish orchestras without exception has taken a picture on members of the orchestra with the hand on each shoulder in sympathy for Magnus. Even from Denmark and Norway, orchestras put out pictures on facebook.
    #backamagnus varärmagnuspåspira

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