Berlin stars are dismayed at new conservatory chief

Berlin stars are dismayed at new conservatory chief


norman lebrecht

May 27, 2019

Professors at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music have voiced ‘dismayed and consternation’ at the replacement of their rector, Robert Ehrlich, by a British outsider, Sarah Wedl-Wilson.

A pro-Ehrlich petition circulated by the violinist Antje Weithaas and the clarinetist Martin Spangenber has been signed by cellists Nicolas Altstaedt and Claudio Bohórquez, violinist Kolja Blacher, pianist Kirill Gerstein, singer Christine Schäfer, violist Tabea Zimmermann and horn player Marie-Luise Neunecker.

In all, around 30 have signed so far.



  • Nick says:

    I wonder what is wrong with a British director at Eissler Hochschule? Why are all these huge names against? Are they all National Socialists? NO, hard to believe. Then WHY? What is wrong with Wedl-Wilson? GB will not be an EU country? So what? What does it matter? Nothing except professional qualifications and personality. Is Wedl-Wilson so unappealing, so wicked? – No! Then WHAT? Is it better to have a German bureaucrat (Deutsche Beamter)instead?

    • justanobserver says:

      Ehrlich has been doing an excellent job, and no one understands what the impetus was to replace him. Are you holding it against him that he’s German??

      • Una says:

        Nationality should be irrelevant as long as the one appointed is good at their job and then able to cope with the internal
        politics and the backbiting that goes on.

      • Maria says:

        He’s getting a bit old like the rest of us, and time for new blood and energy I would have thought.

        • Tamino says:

          “Fresh blood and energy”, oh please! Are the people at Hanns Eisler vampires?
          That’s the typical comment by those who do not understand a thing what such leadership jobs require.

          Like experience and a steady hand in turbulent weather.
          Not some self-aggrandizing person that cares about her personal forthcoming more than about a great institution.

    • ANDY LIM says:

      The obvious wish to keep Robert Ehrlich by “all these huge names” could actually not be motivated by “National Socialism”, as Mr. Ehrlich is North Irish, being born in Belfast. He would not be happy to be called “German bureaucrat”. Don´t know him or his work, but at least leave out the “German”. This is nothing against Wedl-Wilson as British alternative for a North Irish Rector in Germany. But please don´t play the dividing Britain/German card. Europe is already divided enough.

      • Maria says:

        If he was born in Northern (not North Ireland as you call it!) then he is technically British but Erlich is hardly an English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland name. Britain allows you to hold two passports, as I have as a culturally Irish person but happen to be born in London. But the Germans and Austrians, certainly was the case up to 15 years ago, don’t allow you to hold two nationalities. With Brexit that may well.have changed. Everyone running off to get a German or Irish passport

    • Tamino says:

      The term ‘British outsider’ is a spin from the author of this blog. Not from the petitioners.
      Wedl-Wilson’s passport plays no role here AFAIK. She is a fixture in German-Austrian cultural management for decades. There must be other factors at play.

      Would be helpful to read the petition.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        Of course she’s an outsider. She has been parachuted in from Salzburg.

        • Tamino says:

          Is Salzburg British?
          Last time I went I thought it was Chinese.

          • Una says:

            A bit like the Manchester Royal Northern College of Music – about 45% of the students are ‘oriental’ and paying a mint to go there for the prestige, go back and become stars back at home.

          • Tamino says:

            I wasn’t talking about Mozarteum. I was joking about the city.

      • justanobserver says:

        The Berliner Morgenpost and Berliner Zeitung report that the professors named are dismayed that Ehrlich did not receive a majority of the vote but accept the results and are committed to establishing a good working relationship with the new rector. The “petition” is a signed letter officially and publicly documenting the achievements they feel Ehrlich achieved in his 4 year term.

        • Bruce says:

          Well, that’s boring.

        • Tamino says:

          It must become increasingly difficult to find good people for such jobs, if you are up for reelection after 4 years and good job performance doesn’t grant you continuity.
          Only people with even worse job prospects will apply…

  • NatalieT says:

    Rather, this is a replacement of a musician by a manager. Ehrlich, despite the name, is also not German: born in Belfast and educated first at Cambridge (just like Wedl-Wilson in fact). But she’s a cultural manager (who’s played as concertmaster of amateur orchestras as per her bio). Having said that, she’s already been at Hans Eisler for 4 years, so there must be more interesting things going on.

    • Anon says:

      Wow! An amateur concertmeister! This bears no relation to the reality of being a musician who earns their living just by playing! Unfortunately, the profession is full of amateur musician managers, yet they deign to tell us what to do! Stick to the office job I say.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      Anyone who works in academia knows that there can be colleagues who have a stellar reputation for their academic and/or administrative work and STILL are royals pains to work with on a day to day level.

      I have no idea whether this is going on here, but the fact that her fellow professors, after working with her for four years, feel the need to express their feelings regarding the appointment in this drastic way seems to indicate that something like that is going on here.

      BTW, shame on everyone who felt the need to jump to jingoistic conclusions (which does not include Natalie).

  • Joseph Blowe says:

    Diversity hire.

  • erich says:

    Real artists can spot second-rate opportunists very quickly.

  • Patrick says:

    Frankly is this so important that people have an argument about it?