NY Phil: Jaap got burned, Simone flies in

NY Phil: Jaap got burned, Simone flies in


norman lebrecht

April 08, 2019

The New York Philharmonic has informed us that its music director Jaap Van Zweden suffered second-degree burns to his shoulder last week, apparently from excessive use of ice packs.

He is replaced in Mahler’s 6th symphony by the excellent Australian Simone Young who, since she last got asked to conduct the NY Phil in 1998, has been music director of Opera Australia and Hamburg, Germany.



  • barry guerrero says:

    Interesting, because both J. van Zweden (Dallas) and Simone Young (Hamburg) have made excellent recordings of the Mahler 6th.

  • John says:

    She is excellent, and Mahler 6 is definitely a great piece for her. Should be a terrific concert.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Simone was there waaaaaay before anybody talked about and enacted gender quotas!! She’s magnificent.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    She is a good conductor with an excellent baton technique. The problem I find with her is that her interpretations tend to lack emotional depth & she does not seem to have a special imagination for orchestral colour. I have noticed this time and again both in Berlin & in Sydney. For me the greatest conductor to have come out of Australia still remains Sir Charles Mackerras (actually he was never as popular with Australian audiences as Simone Young).

    • Herr Doktor says:

      While I have not heard all of her Bruckner recordings, the ones I have heard confirm your observations, Mr. Kandan. They lack emotional and spiritual depth as can be found routinely in the performances by Karajan, Jochum, Giulini, and others who bring out the most in Bruckner. Her performances are generally respectful and honor the music, but ultimately fail to move this listener.

    • Mighty Hudson says:

      Not tonight! She was spectacular – it was thrilling.

  • Michael says:

    A win for the NY Phil!

  • anon says:

    This is not the first time he’s out because of his shoulders, but the particularity of his injury is that it derives from conducting itself, which is utterly ridiculous, because there is no reason for it: Just change your gestures so that your shoulders (or any affected body parts) are not involved.

    I mean, Karajan conducts with his eyes closed and hands hovering in midair like he’s conducting a seance, and Reiner stands stock still and snaps his wrist once every 5 bars (if he’s feeling energetic that day)…

    Or if you must, just use your hips and gyrate on the podium like Bernstein, you don’t even have to use your upper body…

    Conducting is competitive enough, one loses jobs because of age, looks, whatever, don’t lose it over a “conducting injury”!

  • fflambeau says:

    Jaap is burning out in more ways than one. I do not expect the NYP to renew his contract or to extend it.

    The orchestra has fallen far back of the pack in the USA and cannot attract the top talent it once had. Jaap himself was at best their 4th choice.

    • anon says:

      “The orchestra has fallen far back of the pack…”

      Not according to the striking musicians of the CSO who think that their rejected contract would make Chicago so unattractive that they would quit en masse and audition for LA, SF, even NY!

    • Jewelyard says:

      Where on earth are you getting your information? The NYPhil is indeed attracting the most talented players and sounds better than ever.

      • John Borstlap says:

        There are always people looking for their fly in their soup, even if the soup is of the best quality.

      • fflambeau says:

        Well, Jewelyard, let’s start at the top. The NYPhil lost Esa-Pekka Salonen, who (it’s not a secret) was their first choice to be music director, not Jaap (who was their 4th choice). That should tell you something, no? Plus, EPS is very familiar with the New York scene since he has been composer-in-residence at the New York Philharmonic, since the fall of 2015, with a scheduled term through the spring of 2019. That’s all gone now, at his demand.

        Second, Salonen said no to New York but said yes to a different group: hewill be Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony.

  • fflambeau says:

    Ken-David Masur is the Associate Conductor of the BSO so this is a natural replacement. He’s also the incoming Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra which has quite a lot of talent coming in for next year. Edo De Waart continues on as Conductor Emeritus (and will conduct Mahler’s 9th).

    Some other highlights: Jeffrey Kahane conducting from the piano and playing Mozart; Peter Oundjian conducting Beethoven (as well as Masur leading several Beethoven pieces); Masur also conducting a lot of Mendelssohn and Schumann; Sergei Babayan playing Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto; and the talented German, Jun Märkl, conducting an all Spanish concert with pianist Jorge Federico Osorio playing “Nights in the Garden of Spain.”

    The MSO’s Associate Conductor, who perhaps deserved the top spot in Milwaukee based on his fine work, is the Israeli-born phenom Yanuv Dinar. He will also conduct 2 concerts next year. He was hand-selected as the Assistant Conductor by none other than Edo de Waart and promoted to Associate Conductor under Masur. I suspect the MSO is grooming Dinar for the top spot in future years (he’s young) if they lose Masur to a more well-known orchestra.

  • Edgar says:

    Brava Simone! Jaap, your lesson learned is: never apply ice packs without clinical supervision.

    At any rate, today’s peripatetic conductors would do well to never be without their personal physician and physical therapist, so as to protect the maestro/a from him/herself…;-)

  • MM says:

    10 times too cold

  • PaulD says:

    Jaap should place a call to the training staff for the pitchers of the New York Yankees and Mets. Not only would they should him how to properly ice down, but they could also show him ways to avoid repetitive motion-related injuries.

  • Martinu says:

    Heard Van Zweden 10 days ago conducting Brahms 1. It was so loud- the orchestra SHOUTED the whole 45 minutes. Was really tiring. No gradations, no colors. Back in Tel Aviv, The Israel PO played Mahler 9 under Eschenbach beautifully. Lucidly, chamber music like when needed, and full blast when needed.

  • Mighty Hudson says:

    Saw tonight. She was STELLAR. Orchestra was brilliant.

  • Mary loonam says:

    I taught this lady years ago in flute. She was a wonderful student and I am very proud of her!