Franz Welser-Möst: I could stay at home and read a book

The Cleveland music director says he keeps asking the institutions he heads: are we relevant? He tells Christian Berzins of NZZaS. ‘I always ask (managers): how much risk do you plan, how much research, how much innovation?’

Away from Cleveland, he’s happy to be a festival conductor.’I’m in the phase where I can say, no matter which opera house or orchestra (is asking): “If you do not offer me aomething exciting, I prefer to sit at home and read a book.’

Read on here.



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  • This conductor turned out to be very good at the end. If they were to appoint him music director in Concertgebouw, he may bring some intensity to this super- refined but a slightly boring orchestra.

    • I agree. Wasn’t sure what would happen with the CO when he was appointed but it has been a pleasant surprise.

      I have enjoyed hearing concert that he has directed in Severance Hall.

  • He conducts too fast for me. Reports were that his recent Tchaikovsky 5th in Cleveland clicked in at a record 40 minutes. I thought his Tristan and some other operas impressive, but I generally am unimpressed in most of the symphonic repertoire.

  • There is a terrible arrogance and disconnect from the increasingly harder working middle class in such statements.

    Of course good for him that he can be picky. But the nurse trying to afford a few concert tickets a year on top of her basic needs might not feel so free…

  • I like his conducting. A Schmidt “Das Buch” still rings in my ears. Anyway, audiences nowadays feel the same way. I’d rather stay home read a book than go hear yet another reading of a symphony by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Tchaikovsky that I’ve heard countess times. If you want me to come to your concerts you’d better have something pretty darned exciting. Have you seen the playlists for American summer festivals? BORING!!!!

    • You could always volunteer to do social work in the third world or so, or work in a hospital in Libya or Syria, trying to make up a bit for the mess the US created there, if you are so terribly bored.

    • Cubs Fan: Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Tchaikovsky nearly always sell more tickets than most other stuff. We have to remember most people who attend concerts know relatively little about the repertoire, only occasionally listen to music at home, and want to hear something they feel sure they will like when they pay for a ticket.

  • If concert audiences are not offered something exciting, they would prefer to sit at home and read a book. Or watch HBO. Or sports. Or Shark Tank.

    • Exciting is in the ear of the hearer. I find any symphony by Mahler more exciting than the latest newly-commissioned work I typically hear at Symphony Center here in Chicago. On such occasions, I tend to feel that we live in an age of midgets.

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