Top labels are in a spin over Vienna Philharmonic pick

The Vienna Phil yesterday nominated Andris Nelsons to conduct on New Year’s Day 2020.

Nelsons is a prize property of the Universal label Deutsche Grammophon.

In the same act as choosing Nelsons, the Vienna Phil also renewed its New Year’s Day contract with Sony Classical.

DG are crying foul. Their bid was not considered.

Sony’s boss, Bogdan Roscic, is about to become chief of the Vienna Opera, where he will control pay and conditions for members of the Vienna Philharmonic. Loose tongues are suggesting that the new Sony deal might be a rather nice welcome gesture from the VPO.

Not that we’d suspect anything of the sort.


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  • No, nothing like that would ever happen. Not in Vienna. Never.
    I doubt it is in the long run really in Roscic’s interest to play foul with DG, but he might not look that far into the future.

    • And that might be a problem with Roscic. Major record label managers have learned the hard way to look not much further than toward the next quarterly result.
      That’s not the way the Vienna State Opera should be run…

  • They shouldn’t get themselves into a tailspin since no one cares to buy these yearly recordings any longer. What are they going to preserve for posterity, after all? The last great and noteworthy New Year’s Day concert from Vienna was the now classic Carlos Kleiber. Since we don’t have anyone anywhere near his level of competence, these folks should go golfing instead. Or make recordings with Bocelli which, in tune with the bottom of the barrel times we live in, do sell.

    • Can’t agree more – Kleiber was the only real great one for this music and before him Karajan has moved us! Thielemann was horrible, slow and just awful but they once had to offer it to him – he should improve his mediocre Salzburg Easter Festival appearances (only one concert in 2019) where people got bored of him

  • Unless I’m mistaken, musicians’ pay and conditions of the Staatsoper are controlled by the state. The VPO’s pay and conditions are controlled by themselves.

    • It’s correct — he will have control over those things for the WP members as they play at the Staatsoper. Everyone in the WP plays in the Staatsoper orchestra. However, he won’t have any direct control over what they make playing as the WP.

  • So can’t DG block Nelsons’ participation in a Sony-issued recording? Or I suppose Nelsons’ has to agree to appear on whatever label issues the recording.

    But as Norman points out every year, nobody buys this video anymore.

    • Yes, but apparently DG is not amused, because they wanted the deal themselves, rather than swapping Nelsons with Sony. We could speculate the contract between DG and Nelsons doesn’t give DG good leverage for compensation in such cases.

  • Could we have the actual source for the claim that DG is angry and that there are contractual problems?
    I wasn’t able to confirm from an independent source.

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