John Eliot Gardiner: For me, Brexit is a double disaster

John Eliot Gardiner: For me, Brexit is a double disaster


norman lebrecht

May 24, 2019

As a conductor, he tells BR, he doesn’t know how he will transport musicians and instruments back and forth across Europe once the UK is out of the EU.

‘And as a farmer it’s even worse. I’m afraid of non-ecological and non-biological products from America: “A chlorinated chicken” from Donald Trump. This is a nightmare.’

That could be the least of his problems.



  • anonymous says:

    Right, only a Brit could turn Brexit into America bashing, à la “well, at least we don’t have Trump”.

    Don’t worry about Trump’s chlorinated chickens, worry about Trump’s lapdogs, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

    The one would be Prime Minister, the other head of the British delegation to the European Parliament, leading a country running around like a headless chicken.

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      This may come as a shock, but I keep well away from ‘organic’ produce. They are over-priced and don’t taste any better than the real thing. And please, much as I love JEG’s work, he should stay out of politics – he will find that if BREXIT goes through, he can still schlepp musicians throught European countries. How did you all manage before the EU? Air travel, train travel – what noveites! Stick to what you know JEG, and stay out of politics especially American politics. (We buy your recordings, you know – for now!)

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      Pres Trump has no lap-dogs. Your politicians can carry on without help from us. And I believe the decision by the UK voters to leave EU was some time before Mr Trump became Pres Trump. Take care of your own problems.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    “Me, Me, Me” All about him.
    He’s had a charmed life .

    Sir Simon is far, far more inclusive. On Brexit, he speaks about “us” and “the musicians” and so forth

  • Rob Keeley says:

    Oh dear, how sad. My heart bleeds for him…

  • Steven says:

    Chickens on the lawn of the White House?

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      No, only those inside it are chicken.

      • Patricia Yeiser says:

        Back off my country’s politics. Mind your own country’s. And come to think of it, we don’t export toxic anything. American farmers have been feeding the American people – and people of other countries – for decades. Can you say the same? And Pres Trump, as irritating as I occasionally find him. is trying to do things that other presidents have ignored or tolerated for years. He has courage – can the same be said for any of you? Unless you prefer being taken for a ride by the ChiComs, living under the threat of nuclear Iran, which is run by Islamic lunatics, putting up with a UN that can’t order lunch, etc.

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      Well, in the early days of the Republic, there were cows. A reassuring thought, now that the cows have been replaced by the National Press. And I believe it was the Brits who burned down the White House. It’s a better building now – the fire drove out the rats from the Potomac. And the furnishings and artwork are astounding.

  • John G. Deacon says:

    Exactly as was done prior to joining the EU – when, according to remainiacs, music was invented. Before that, of course, all was chaos …..

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Your statement is silly.

      Before the EU: every nationality needed a visa to visit every country.

      After the EU: no European needed a visa to work in another European country.

      Brexit: Only British people need a visa.

      Have you seen the problem? Others will likely, in many cases, not hire British people and not come to Britain due to the hassle.

      • Patricia Yeiser says:

        Before the EU, criminals and terrorists might have been stopped at a border, arrested and hauled off to the slammer. How many threats have been stopped with the EU’s ‘no borders’ policy? Brexit will get sorted – these things take time. I never really saw the UK as part of Europe – you are, after all, English. Or have you lost your sense of national pride as well as your reason?

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      Well you had Purcell and Handel. But the Greeks had music during the so-called Golden Age. Also they had a sick policy regarding men and young boys. All countries have things for which to answer.

  • Karen Fodor says:

    JEG’s reputation for rudeness is far stronger than that stuff said about Barenboim recently. See this excellent Spectator piece.

    • Robert von Bahr says:

      Well, I have met him twice – first and last time, which happened at the same time. When I see him, I take a roundabout.
      Gramophone Award Ceremony 1991. We had got an Award for the Sibelius violin concerto, original version. JEG also had one – or was it two? – for something. I happened to stand near him, Award in hand, so I turned to him, reached out my hand and said something along the lines of congratulations to an awarded colleague. He just looked at me up and down like I was something that the cat had brought in, did not take my hand, said “Really?” and turned away.
      He may be gifted beyond belief, but those are no manners for an English aristocrat. Or for anyone else, for that matter.

      • Mike Schachter says:

        English aristocrats don’t behave like this. This is the middle classes being superior, as they see it.

        • Norbert says:

          He ain’t no aristocrat Mike – believe me!

          My grandfather was a Marquis, and would have laughed at him.

          Delighted to see the article though – anything that upsets him lightens my day for a few fleeting moments.

      • Patricia Yeiser says:

        I don’t think he is gifted ‘beyond belief.’ He has talent which is indeed a gift – but he shouldn’t squander it with infantile behaviour. There are other period musicians to whom I wouldn’t give house-room. That doesn’t mean I don’ t enjoy what they do. One has to learn to separate the person from the work. Moral: keep well clear of one’s ‘heroes.’ And don’t turn them into idols. We all – particularly the nouveau riche and odious – have feet of clay.

    • Una says:

      He was rude to me once in an audition, and I’m used to the Straightforwardness of the east end of London – my own culture – and West Yorkshire where I now live. Just as well I had the resilience, even as a very young singer then, to cope with the likes of him!! All about him. Thought he had mellowed with age and his Bach tour – LOL.

  • Anon says:

    He’ll probably manage it in the same way he manages to move musicians and instruments in and out of those notorious EU member states, Japan, USA, Switzerland, et al.
    And if he’s happy with the quality of his farming (I wasn’t aware he reared chickens), why be worried about products he clearly considers inferior?

  • Chlorine-bathed chicken has nothing to do with President Trump, so that is a “cheap shot” by the Dorset conductor, who likely lines up with USA 45 on numerous subjects. It has been sold in America — and inadequately flagged for the consumer, like thousands of food tricks there and in the U.K. — for at least thirty years. But food labeling is one aspect of life in which Brussels does some good, a legacy of the origins of the E.U. Example: a properly raised turkey here in Bavaria will fetch €60, while a mass-market one goes for perhaps €24, the difference reflecting vital facts reaching buyers. So the market in the end supports better practices. Prince Charles’s visit last week to the excellent Herrmannsdorfer [.de] drew attention to this. Separately, all mass-produced chicken involves the dunking of the animals’ heads and necks into a saline and in most cases chlorinated solution for the purpose of deadening by electrocution before the cut.

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      The USA has plenty of healthy chickens. We don’t have to import them. And as much as I like JEG’s music -making, I could go the rest of my life without hearing what he thinks about anything else. It must be remembered that he went to Cambridge, where they seem to make arrogance a part of the curriculum. They aren’t all like that , of course, but enough are to give the Music Program a bad name. (But I love the C.U.M.S. and its lion logo!)


  • batonbaton says:

    My heart bleeds for him. Maybe he should join the chickens in the shed and eat his own feed…

  • Nick says:

    This is an idiotic comment from Gardiner. He will transport his musicians after Brexit EXACTLY the same wya he transported them before – plains and trains, buses, if he prefers. As far as farming goes. I think it is not for a Brit to criticize American chickens! They chickens are fine and he can request “chlorinated” chickens from Obama and Michelle – I am sure they will oblige. After all he can grow his own, I am sure it will be more productive than his conducting efforts! What a disgusting person! No wonder his music making is so blahhhhhhh!

    • Mr.Knowitall says:

      He misspoke. He meant “fluoridated chickens.” In America they add fluoride to poultry to protect teeth against bacteria. That’s why customers in a typical American KFC franchise will have nicer teeth than the blokes in an English fish-n-chips shop.

      • John Borstlap says:

        That is true. On my visits to the US, every time I dropped-in at a KFC outlet, I returned to the hotel with eye sores because of the blinking smiles al around, especially the staf’s.

        • Patricia Yeiser says:

          It’s true most Americans – except for the ones in Gnu York City – are polite. And the Brits have a -sometimes deserved – reputation for rudeness, disguised as politeness.

      • Patricia Yeiser says:

        We have flouride in our drinking water as well – or used to. It protects human teeth.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The problem with such musicians is that they identify with the master pieces they bring to life, and begin to imagine it is them who are the music. And thus, they begin to feel ‘non-human’ and allow themselves to neglect the normal humanism which is implied in these very master pieces, and they become, as a person, a caricature of the works they perform. In spite of their talents, these people are rife for the psychiatrist sofa.

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      If you had practiced your instrument for hours a day since you were a child, you’d doubtless have a few things amiss as well. I haven’t yet met a musician – and I’ve met many – who behaved as if they were ‘non-human.’ What psychological clap-trap have you been reading?

  • Thomas W Dinsmore says:

    I like and admire John Eliot Gardner. He has a right to express his opinion, even one that is insane.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Of course he has the right to express an opinion. After all, as Clint Eastwood said… (well, google Clint Eastwood opinion…)

      • Patricia Yeiser says:

        In one Clint Eastwood film. he plays a Secret Service agent who, unlike other agents, refuses to wear sunglasses outdoors. When his partner asks about this, he says he wants the wackos to be able to see the whites of his eyes. My favorite Eastwood quotation, especially since 9.11. (You all remember 11th September 2001? And the attacks on London 7th July?)

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      Un-informed in any case. Arrogance coupled with ignorance – what an unfortunate combination.

  • Larry W says:

    Gardiner has been subject to various allegations of rudeness and bullying of performers and colleagues.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    I have always found his music making, for all his scholarship, to be bland and insipid.
    According to Private Eye, he fared very badly with the Leipzig Gewanhaus a few years ago. It is alleged he made such a hash of rehearsing a Brahms symphony that the orchestra decided he wasn’t up to the task and followed the concertmaster instead throughout the concert.
    Make of that what you will.

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      Concertmasters – or soloists – used to lead before there were ‘conductors.’ They were just reverting to type.

  • Dennis says:

    Such foolishness, but typical nonsense from “remainers”. Just proves one can be intelligent and thoughtful in one area (music, esp. Bach), but an utter moron in others.

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      I don’t think it is typical of anyone save JEG and his ilk. Why did anyone ask him about this, knowing how rude and dismissive he can be?

  • Karen Fodor says:

    ==they identify with the master pieces they bring to life, and begin to imagine it is them who are the music.

    yes, well said …!

  • Doug says:

    He may not like “chlorinated chickens” from the USA but her sure does love those six figure conductor fees. Hypocrite.

    • Patricia Yeiser says:

      Yes. I always like it when conductors from other countries flee as the clock strikes Midnight on the day before they have to pay American taxes. Buck, buck , buck begaugh!!!

  • FS60103 says:

    Now I know how badly it’s going to eff things up for Jiggy, I wish I’d voted Leave.

  • Michael James says:

    He transports musicians and instruments successfully to countries outside the European Union, I assume. Project Fear set to music.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    “I’m afraid of non-ecological and non-biological products from America”

    Surely the daily rhetoric of every starving Ethopian!!

    Diddums. This deserves its own special “South Park” episode!!

  • Jeremy Wardle says:

    I wonder what JEG’s West Side Story at this year’s Edinburgh Festival will be like

  • Didi says:

    As a Canadian, my family try to buy local rather than the giant beautiful produce made in America. It is hard to live next door to produce from land and rivers filled with dangerous chemicals. We buy from south america mostly. Gardiner is right on this. I am not saying any country is pristine, but water runs down hill, I am fortunate.