Just in: Vienna has a rising Honeck

Just in: Vienna has a rising Honeck


norman lebrecht

December 16, 2018

Matthias Honeck has been promoted to leader of the 2nd violins of the Wiener Symphoniker.

His uncle, Rainer, is concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic.

His father, Manfred, is music director in Pittsburgh.

Matthias has played in the Wiener Symphoniker since 2011.




  • CLC says:

    You are wrong; Rainer Honek is a concertmaster in the Vienna Philharmonic not the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

    CLC Wimbledon

  • almaregina says:

    This is a irritating case of nepotism. One expects a high level of playing from the members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. To fill important positions with close relatives is no gain for their image or respectability

    • Novagerio says:

      Utter nonsense. Vienna has had several celebated musical families for centuries in both the same or different orchestras.
      At least, I think it keeps tradition and a large portion of musical history alive. As clarinettist Peter Schmidl once said: “My grandfather played with Mahler” – and he was by far the only member of the viennese musical establishment who said things like that.

    • Robert Roy says:

      Believe me, NO ONE gets ANY position in the Vienna Philharmonic based on any other criteria than ability. If this chap has been appointed leader of the second violins then it will be because he was the very best candidate for the job. No other member of the Orchestra would tolerate nepotism.

      It’s an extremely important position since the second violins are often responsible for setting the tempi in classical works. Good luck to him.

      • Chris says:

        As a former second violinist (for most of my working life of more that 35 years), I have always maintained that – in the classical repertoire at least – but not exclusively so – second violins and violas are the ‘engine room’, of the ensemble, not just in terms of setting tempo, but also providing the rhythmic base for most of the time.

      • Natalie says:

        Interesting! “no one gets any position in the VPO based on OTHER criteria than ability” – that’s why there are no asians in the orchestra, right? Because their abilities are so very poor compared to the ones of conductors son

        • Bill says:

          The Wiener Philharmoniker does not have a conductor, so we don’t have to worry about that being an issue. The Wiener Symphoniker does have a conductor, Philippe Jordan, but he is not the father (or any other close relation) of Matthias Honeck.

          Your logic is flawed on the Asian bit as well. There is no shortage of highly qualified candidates at every Wiener Staatsoper audition (the Philharmoniker draws its members from that group, one doesn’t get to audition directly). Auditions are done behind a screen for the opening rounds. No one is going to get the job without being a very fine player. It’s only a matter of time until some Asian candidate plays an outstanding audition and convinces the committee that they will be a good fit in the orchestra, which has a distinctive character which they seek to preserve. This is no different than not so long ago when there were no women in the ranks. The members joining now went to school with large numbers of women and Asians, and they will be more willing to vote for such candidates, if they also believe they are hiring the best candidate. I don’t think any of them will want to vote for a candidate simply because they are .

          Frankly, I don’t care where the orchestra members come from, or what they look like, so long as they sound like they should be there, maintaining the tradition.

        • Pianofortissimo says:

          How many Europeans play in the Imperial Gagaku Ensemble?

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Matthias Honeck is with the Vienna Symphony, not the Philharmonic.


    • Ms.Melody says:

      What if he happens to be the best candidate for the post?
      Should his career and progress be held back because he had the misfortune of being born into a
      prominent musical family?
      Maybe, meritocracy is not a completely outdated concept at least in some institutions.

    • Feeling Annoyed says:

      This is an irritating case of ignorance. One expects a higher level of comprehension from the trolls of Slipped Disc. Your comment is no gain to your image or respectability.

    • Hugo Laurenz August says:

      @Almaregina: As has been pointed out already you are confusing two of Vienna’s orchestras – the Symphoniker with the Philharmoniker. Neither orchestra “simply” promotes players: Matthias Honeck won the audition for leader of the 2nd violins. Given the strict and extremely demanding selection process I find your accusation rather hurtful and would strongly suggest an apology.

    • Bill says:

      Indeed – and close relatives of the members of the Wiener Philharmoniker have been delivering that high level of playing for more than a century. The Berlin Philharmonic has also had such members.

    • Steve says:

      He’s in the Wiener Symphoniker. Different orchestra. There are no relatives in the orchestra.

  • Clemo says:

    I attempted to withdraw this comment once I read the whole article but you do not provide for the same to be done; perhaps you should learn to edit more carefully and not break off sentences halfway through on the first page.

  • Pianofortissimo says:


  • NYMike says:

    If I remember correctly, there’s been more than one family member in the VPO’s horn section. Also father and daughter in 2nd violin and viola sections.

  • MacroV says:

    So the story is Manfred Honeck has a son who is a professional violinist and member of the Vienna SO since 2011. And now he’s been appointed principal 2nd violin in the VSO. Nice little bit of career progression.

    It’s not surprising that musical talent can run through a family.