Breaking: Barenboim wins new Berlin deal

Breaking: Barenboim wins new Berlin deal


norman lebrecht

June 04, 2019

The city of Berlin has offered Daniel Barenboim an extension to his contract as Artistic Director and General Music Director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. He will stay in post until 2027, when he will be 85 years old.

Barenboim joined the Sattatsoper soon after reunification in 1992.

Today’s announcement was made at a press conference featuring, aside from Barenboim himself, the cultural senator Klaus Lederer, artistic director Matthias Schulz and orchestra leaders Susanne Schergaut and Volker Sprenger.


  • RW2013 says:

    Did we expect anything else?

  • anon says:

    What the hell does Barenboim got to offer? He’s been on auto-pilot for the last 20 years.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Great Wagner, among other things.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Interpretatively Barenboim is far from my favorite conductor. What he does well however is cultivate the unique sound of the Staatskapelle. Will his successor be able to preserve this sound? Doubtful if we look at what Riccardo Muti did in Philadelphia or Riccardo Chailly in Leipzig, where the Gewandhaus Orchestra sounded perhaps better than ever technically under his leadership but lost much of its typical sound (Chailly did something similar in Amsterdam, though did much to recover it. I also should say that I did not hear the Gewandhaus Orchestra under Nelsons so I don’t know how it sounds today). Even the Dresden Staatskapelle sounds karajanized under Thielemann.

      Bottom line: enjoy the Berlin Staatskapelle while you can.

      • Emil says:

        I heard them in Macbeth last week. The orchestra stole the show (with Barenboim). Simply splendid.

      • John Borstlap says:

        It may be instructive to remind oneself occasionally that an orchestra is there for the music in the first place, and less so for its sound. An orchestra with beautiful sound but without music has not much to offer.

        • Brian says:

          I am reminded of The Sound of Music…

        • Novagerio says:

          Mr.Slap, I remind you that most great composers wrote music with great orchestras in mind, such as the orchestras in Mannheim (propably the most famous in the 1700’s), in Meiningen (Brahms in particular), the Weimar Staatskapelle (R.Strauss in particular), the Dresden Staatskapelle (Vivaldi, Weber, Wagner and again R.Strauss aswell as a long etc), the Berlin Staatskapelle (Graun, Spontini, Weber, Meyerbeer etc), and naturally the Vienna Philharmonic (Bruckner and especially Mahler in particular)
          and the Berlin Philharmonic.

          Even Rachmaninoff dedicated works to Stokowski’s/Ormandy’s Philadelphia, so yes, an orchestra’s sound was and is VERY essential to a great composer (!)

          And may I remind you that it’s precisely an orchestra’s tradition and culture that is mostly indispensable to certain conposers (!) – just think of the viennese oboe; its chromatic nasal qualities are essential to play Mahler the way Mahler would have recognised/approved on.

          • Novagerio says:

            And I forgot to mention the Boston/Koussevitzky-era, when they commissioned works by Bartók, Ravel, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Roussel, Honegger and a long etcetera (!!)

    • A Pianist says:

      You’re talking about the German arts establishment. Safe and predictable über alles.

      • John Borstlap says:

        There are good reasons for wanting to be on the safe side. And for predictability: the lid is kept firmly on the boiling pot.

      • And yet, the German arts establishment and government support and further innovative regie Theater like no other country, and it certainly doesn’t lack hungry for more audiences even throughout the provinces. And the critics love it too. Not exactly safe and predictable.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      A heck of a lot of experience and a clear beat. That has to count for something. He can’t jump on stage and sing for these people, nor do the staging and sets himself. He’s also done pretty well by the Staatskapelle Berlin, don’t you think? He at least brought them on to the world stage, so to speak.

    • Bill says:

      Ever consider the possibility that there are people who like what he’s been doing for the last 20 years?

    • Karl says:

      “What the hell does Barenboim got to offer?” His name.

    • J says:

      certainly not true. He can offer so much and neither him nor the orchestra was auto pilot. You should see how different they play when it’s not Barenboim on the podium.

    • Novagerio says:

      Anon: A damn good “auto-pilot”, with a lifelong experience (!)

  • Antoine Bares says:

    There was no viable replacement for DB, so they sticked with him. Neither the best nor the worst outcome for Berlin.

    • John Borstlap says:

      When all is said an done, DB has produced many beautiful concerts, whether one likes his style or not, or whether one is irritated by his ego or not. Another case of conductor identifying with the music and thinking it is HIM producing the music for which the composer was merely helpful to offer a couple of clues.

  • Hannah says:

    Now the artistic stagnation and decline of the Staatsoper will continue for another eight years. Barenboim is primarily interested in concerts and lucrative overseas tours, whereas the number of opera performances and operas in repertoire has already reached an all-time low. At the very least they should have appointed a second GMD as music director of the opera house or a more powerful and independently minded Intendant who could make it clear to Barenboim that he is supposed to be running an opera house.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      OK, that makes sense.

    • SUGGERITORE says:

      This season he has conducted 3 new productions (Medee, Babylon new version (had to cancel for an eye operation sadly) and Betrothal in a Monastery. And 5 revivals Falstaff, Elektra, Meistersinger, Macbeth, Tristan. If you compare to other big house Music Directors, Pappano, Petrenko, Jourdan, Nezet-Seguin, Luisi, Runnicles and Thielemann, none of the others has done more new productions, (only Runnicles and Jourdan have done 3 as well), and only one (Runnicles at the Deutsche Oper) has done more revivals (6). Plus tours with the SKB in Europe, Asia, Australia and Buenos Aires (including a Tristan in Argentina) in the last twelve months. Can hardly be accused to slacking!

  • kölscher jung says:

    And the reign of terror continues…

  • MacroV says:

    He seems to be quite vigorous at 77, but keeping a job until 85? You’d think at some point he’d just focus on projects and guest conducting, ala Bloomstedt or Haitink.

    • Emil says:

      Unless he gets to do all the conducting he wants, hire who he wants, and leave the rest of casting and of the admin to others…

    • John Borstlap says:

      My fly on the wall informs me that he has been offered an under-the-table contract until his 105th year.

  • Roland says:

    These are great news!! Congratulations to the Staatsoper, to the maestro and to Berlin!

  • Mark says:

    Excellent decision. Even if one doesn’t like Barenboim’s personality (e.g. I don’t care for his politics), it has to be acknowledged that he is a great musician.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes. I greatly despise his views on 20C music which are entirely nonsensical, outdated, fake and totalitarian, but enjoy his Wagner.

  • A hearty Mazel tov to the reigning Maestro….now he should only wear a Kippah in which to conduct

    • Tamino says:

      Could we please keep religion – a purely private matter – out of concert halls? This is the 21st century. Not the 17th.
      The age of enlightenment began almost 300 years ago.

    • Ms.Melody says:

      Dream on Ms.Kamioner,
      The man openly speaks against Israel and supports Palestinian causes.
      A talented musician? No doubt. A great asset to Staaroper-definitely. But as a Jew and a person-a disgrace.

      • Simon Behrman says:

        Why can’t a Jew criticise Israel and support the Palestinians? Many of us do. To suggest that someone is a ‘bad Jew’ for not genuflecting to the ethno-nationalism dominant in Israel is totalitarian. We Jews are allowed to disagree – that perhaps is the defining feature of being a Jew!

        Indeed, Barenboim stands in the best traditions of Judaism of self-reflection and self-criticism, and of solidarity with others who are oppressed.

        At least we can agree that he is a wonderful musician.

        • Ms.Melody says:

          How many other countries can you name where the “oppressed” occupy seats in parliament, are free to practice their religion, enjoy world class healthcare and education and are warned well in advance of air raids in retaliation to rockets being fired by Hamas?
          Jews in israel do not call for death of non-jews, gays or any other minorities, the “oppressed” do. To criticize Israel is to speak against the only democracy in the Middle East. But of course, the appalling double standard is always at work. israel is always portrayed as the aggressor and the oppressor even when it acts in self-defence

          • Saxon Broken says:

            “How many other countries can you name where the “oppressed” occupy seats in parliament…”

            Ha, ha, ha. You will be surprised how often oppressive regimes allow a few token people in Parliament to pretend they are “not oppressed”. Even North Korea has some seats provided to non-Party members.

            Of course, your comments on Israel being the only democracy in the Middle-East is true. And even the justified criticism of Israel pales beside some of the behaviour by Hamas. But people are still allowed to criticise, and to wish Israel made different political decisions.

          • Simon Behrman says:

            ‘Jews in Israel do not call for…’ – you see once again generalisations made about Jews. There are different shades of opinion in Israel, as there are everywhere. Some have very honourable and progressive views. Unfortunately, there are many Israelis, including leading politicians like Avigdor Lieberman who argue for the ‘transfer’ of Palestinians i.e. ethnic cleansing.

            Why is criticising Israel equal to criticising democracy? Does the same apply to critics of the USA, UK, France etc? Or is Israel special?

            Yes, I can name another country where oppressed minorities are represented in parliament: Iran.

      • Just funnin’ ya’all. I am all too aware of DB’s political/religious “feelings.”

    • Mr.Knowitall says:

      Why all the thumbs down? Disapproval of the Yiddish? Anti-yarmulke sentiment? I assume that Ms. Kamioner is reacting to Felix Klein’s idiotic suggestion that Jews in Germany should hide from neo-Nazi’s the way mice hide from cats.

  • kaa12840 says:

    Great ! Lucky Berliners

  • Harry Collier says:

    “Deal” is Donald Trump language. In English, it’s an agreement, or contract. I have never liked Barenboim as a pianist or conductor. But he must be worth lotsa money, so he’s a “celebrity”.

  • LondonPianist says:


  • Alexander Tarak says:

    Barenboim IMO is to music what junk food is to gastronomy.
    What they both lack in quality they make up for in quantity.

  • Edgar says:

    DB hopes to die in the pit while conducting Tristan Act Two. “O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe”….

  • Martin Flowerman says:

    One cannot just offhandedly dismiss Barenboim as a nothing. He is a tremendous talent both as a pianist and conductor. What people think of him on a personal basis is a completely different issue.

  • erich says:

    The person to feel sorry for is the Intendant Matthias Schulz. First of all he had to cope with working alongside that old wreck Jürgen Flimm and no sooner has he gone than he‘ll have to put up with another eight years of DB breathing down his neck. When on earth will he be able to put his own stamp on the house?

  • Stephen Diviani says: