Toulouse struggles to keep its conductor

Toulouse struggles to keep its conductor


norman lebrecht

November 06, 2018

Tugan Sokhiev was just 26 when he first conducted the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse in October 2003. He became its music director five years later and has kept the orchestra at the forefront of French music.

But Sokhiev has his hands full in Moscow as head of the Bolshoi and Toulouse, in the thick of an economic recession, says it cannot afford his wages. His contract runs out in mid-2020.

What happens next? Read here.



  • John Borstlap says:

    It seems that Sokhiev was happy with the orchestra over those years. If this is true, and his fees increase because of the market value of his reputation, and he has already fees from Moscow, and Toulouse does not have enough money to keep up with S’s price, why insisting on your ‘market value’? It looks as if it is about the money, not about artistic achievement and satisfaction, as usual. The orchestra has given S an opportunity to demonstrate his prowess and if he really valued artistry, and he really enjoyed Toulouse, he should simply work there for his former salary. The art form is not meant as an instrument to skim the community.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      What do we know about Sokhiev’s Bolshoi fees? How does the Bolshoi pay compared to its western counterparts?

    • The View from America says:

      And it’s not as though Sokhiev’s been working for peanuts in Toulouse …

      If you look around, there are some other internationally known conductors who have kept up meaningful relationships with their “first” orchestra, regardless of the market-rate fees they might command today. There’s something to be said for “gratitude” in this business.

    • Garib says:

      John, does the word “greed” constitue a satisfactory answer to your question?

  • Flora Strogonova says:

    Would be a pity if they were Toulouse him completely.

  • Julien says:

    Please Tugan, stay in Toulouse. You make such a great job.

  • MacroV says:

    Well, if it’s about time commitment, and he wants to focus on the Bolshoi, fine. If it’s about money, that’s why you negotiate. It looks like after his current contract expires he’ll have been there 12 years, which is a pretty decent tenure. Maybe time for both sides to move on. I’m sure there’s a fine young Finnish conductor nobody has ever heard of who might be available.

    • John Borstlap says:

      That is also true. Conductors are not married to an orchestra, although some appear to indeed consider it a commitment ’till death us part’ (Karajan).

  • msc says:

    It is an interesting situation. I work at a decent mid-size university. I could have left for a much more prestgious one some time ago but I am staying where I am out of loyalty to the place that hired me when those same big names did not, or would not have, given my application a second’s thought. I just hope any artist would base such decisions on more than money.

  • NYMike says:

    TS was impressive guesting @ NY Phil last week.