Berlin postpones decision on Barenboim renewal

Berlin postpones decision on Barenboim renewal


norman lebrecht

April 18, 2019

Berlin’s Kultursenator Klaus Lederer has said he will wait until the summer before deciding whether to renrew Daniel Barenboim’s contract as music director at the Staatsoper.

Barenboim has faced accusations of bullying,which he denied.

Lederer said: ‘I’m having many discussions with all those involved. I want to get a feeling for it, Above all, one has to talk to the people who work with him. Crucial here is the question of what the orchestra wants.’


  • observer says:

    “Crucial here is the question of what the orchestra wants.” Or is the issue what a certain conductor wants who would like to take Barenboim’s place?

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    The real problem is not bullying, but age. Many conductors cut down on opera performances by the time they reach their eighties to conserve energy for concerts. It is not an easy thing to be a music director of such a major opera company.

  • Emil says:

    One might understand if they decide to replace a 77 year old – however musically gifted – who causes a ton of HR problems with someone younger and more apt at managing the opera house for multiple years in the future.

    And Barenboim should realize it’s very much time to move on too. Enjoy touring. Get a festival like Argerich. Play with your youth orchestra…something.

  • Bogda says:

    But they are also aware he is still number one reason why people visit Staatsoper, and why it still has high standing.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Are you quite sure about that?

      • Tamino says:

        Well, it can’t be denied that he has huge pulling power, both to soloists and also to the political establishment. It he wants something done, if he wants someone to work with him, he can get it done easier than anyone else potentially able to succeed him. At least I don’t see that one.
        Which doesn’t mean the revolution shouldn’t be done, possibly better sooner than later.
        The best solution would be an orderly and gradual transition of powers over some years with Barenboim fully cooperating and constructively contributing. But he is not that kind of person apparently.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      You are arguing that the best funded opera house in the German speaking world, located in the capital city, only manages to get people to attend because of Barenboim. That is absurd.

      The truth is that Munich, Vienna and Berlin all compete to be the best German opera house. At the moment, Berlin is arguably third of those three.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Klaus Lederer (Die Linke) should keep to his DDR-Punk-Band or to his Queer Nations initiative, and leave high culture in peace.

    • Magdalene says:


    • Edgar says:

      Pianofortissimo, I fear you are seriously out of tune. How about piano e cantabile instead of making noise?

      The writing is on the wall, seen and heard by anyone with open eyes and ears: It is time for DB to leave the Berlin stage in a gracious manner (which becomes less gracious with each passing day). The fact that the Kultursenator belongs to a political party you despise is irrelevant. Any Kultursenator would do likewise.

      Given the ability of the German language, there is no problem to come up with a unique title to bestow on DB on the occasion of his departure. Something like “Ehrengeneralmusikdirektor”.

      And, of course, a special farewell gala at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden: “O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe”… and one more, and this time final, Liebestod…

  • Novagerio says:

    The Kultursenator should be present (as incognito of course) at a few rehearsals with Barenboim and make his own mind up…

  • fflambeau says:

    The Maestro has the clout to walk and the institution will then suffer. He can conduct just about anywhere he wants.

    • Edgar says:

      The institution won’t suffer. It will, though, if DB overstays his time. DB can indeed conduct and make music anywhere he wants. Even in Berlin.

  • Karl says:

    It is time for a change at the Staatskapelle. Everyvody knows that. Irrespective of who the successor of DB will be : he will leave behind a good band that deserves high respect.

  • Proteus says:

    Which is why Claudio Abbado was a saint

  • Mick the Knife says:

    I heard Barenboim conduct the orchestra in a couple Bruckner Symphonies in Spain in 2011. I only attended because of Barenboim’s recordings of Bruckner with the Chicago Symphony. Average orchestra, nothing great; not even a top 20 in the US. I’m wondering how big of a name they could attract in a conductor search.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      They won’t find it difficult to attract a “major name”; they are one of the big-three opera companies in the German-speaking world (with Vienna and Munich) and offer competitive salaries. Only Paris, La Scala, Covent Garden and the Met are as big or bigger.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    IMO Barenboim and junk food have one thing in common: what they lack in quality they make up for in quantity.