Munich newspaper wants Jansons out

Munich newspaper wants Jansons out


norman lebrecht

June 28, 2019

Munich’s Abendzeitung has published a powerful piece by the well-connected Robert Braunmüller calling for the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra to seek another chief conductor.

Mariss Jansons, 76, has just taken three months’ off on doctors’ advice. His contract runs until 2024. Braunmüller lists his cancellations over the past year before concluding:

In the next few years the BR Symphony Orchestra will need a chief conductor who is fit and present in Munich. The debate about the orchestras of public service broadcasting will continue, the pressure for cuts will increase. In addition, the new concert hall in the Werksviertel needs a representative head – and that can only be the chief conductor. Jansons stays far too rarely in Munich… Even at the season opening, he is distinguished by his absence. He gives the impression that he prefers to direct the BR Symphony Orchestra away from of Munich.

Read on here.

photo: Christodoulou


  • Max says:

    What a disgraceful article…
    But one shouldn’t forget to mention, that Abendzeitung is a tabloid like BILD. No one is taking them seriously in this matter.

    • William Dundas says:

      You may not be old enough to know of the long and distinguished contribution this conductor has made over many years. The orchestra and the city owe him a huge debt of gratitude and respect.

      • Tamino says:

        They owe him nothing except what every decent human being owes every other decent human being.
        Conductors are not „Übermenschen“ even though maybe particularly in the infamous former „Stadt der Bewegung“ there is still a widespread need of adulation for one?
        What is owed?
        He gets paid royally. Extreme amounts in the context of public service. He works little for that. He is a good conductor, but he is just a conductor. Please stay sane and real.

    • Djeedo says:

      Right you are!
      And Mr. Braunmüller is the worst of the worst in munich,he treats every Orchestra/Artist like sh…

  • I thought Munich was in the process of deciding whether or not to build a new performance venue for this conductor…

  • SL says:

    How rude.

  • Karl says:

    “Never kick a man when he’s down, he may get back up.”

  • Rob says:

    Jansons turned the Pittsburgh Symphony into gold, but now he must put his health first.

    • Novagerio says:

      Rob: Excuse me, but there was q certain Lie on Maazel before (in Pittsburgh)

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Fritz Reiner and Steinberg weren’t too shabby either…

        The truth is, Pittsburgh were always considered the 6th after the “big five”. Jansons really didn’t change anything.

    • Novagerio says:

      A certain Lorin Maazel it should say.

    • JS says:

      No, Maazel did that.

    • Ralph says:

      On the contrary, Rob. The Pittsburgh Symphony made his career (nothing against Oslo), just as the PSO is making Honeck’s career. Remember, that stick (or hand, as is the case with Jansons) doesn’t make a sound. It’s the players who are regularly saving conductors’ asses from their own incompetence.

      Of course we all wish Jansons good health, but as another person said, let’s keep it real. I can’t think of any conductor who deserves glorification.

  • M McAlpine says:

    As someone who retired at the age of 71, I often wonder why conductors go on for so long, when ill health and old age are catching up with them. Karajan’s latter years at Berlin didn’t exactly end in a blaze of glory, partly due to health problems, and it appears that Jansons is not learning from his mentor’s mistakes. Why not retire and guest conduct when he is fit? Surely there are many orchestras who would welcome a distinguished guest conductor such as Jansons?

    • Jaime Herrera says:

      In the world of fiddling, Heifetz was smart and retired while he was still the master of all fiddle players – others (like Szigeti) hung on until the bitter end and so they gave us proof that they were miserably bad in their later years. Nature always has the upper hand but huge egos try to defy it. Jansons will lose his battle with nature. He should do the right thing and stop while he’s ahead. He is just in the way of a younger generation now. If he can teach, he should do that instead.

    • MacroV says:

      Absolutely. Jansons is a beloved conductor, but he has been plagued by health problems for years – even when he was in Pittsburgh. His desire to stay in Munich (and leave the Concertgebouw) was driven in part by his desire to help push for a new hall. Very commendable, but there is nothing wrong in admitting that while he’s still fit to conduct, maybe he’s no longer consistently healthy enough to run an orchestra, with all that entails. Surely the great orchestras of the world would welcome him with open arms as a guest.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      Absolutely, musicians more than most seem unable to call it a day. Others cam work out the psychology.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    Yes, completely agreed with M McAlpine .
    MJ would make one of the world’s great guest conductors if he could just give himself space and breaks. Good luck to him !

    • Pedro says:

      He doesn’t like to fly and it’s dangerous for his health problems. He should retire completely now, after a glorious career.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        There are plenty of places in Europe just a train ride from where he lives. A few concerts a year in Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, Milan, Amsterdam should be pleasant enough (and manageable).

  • Hal Sacks says:

    Charles Dutoit May be available. Seriously…Christian Macelaru or the Philadelphia Orchestras now free Kensho Watanabe.

    • urania says:

      They do need some conductor more creative, the symphony repertoire does need an uplift without going show. Thats not easy, I would know somebody for them if the orchestra is read to work.

  • V says:

    I think it’s an entirely valid point Robert Braunmüller is making. What percentage of the BRSO’s total budget comes from state subsidy? If they have an absentee conductor then it’s in the public interest to find a replacement. This takes nothing away from Janson’s greatness as a conductor.

  • Simon Behrman says:

    I just so happen to be listening to a Klemperer recording (when he was about the same age as Jansons is now) as I read this post. You can be a great conductor even into extreme old age. I agree with others that the timing of this article is in very poor taste, given his health problems.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      The fact of his ongoing poor health is exactly what is causing people to wonder if he should still be chief conductor. If he was well, there wouldn’t be any point in having this conversation.

      While plenty of conductors have the health to keep going into their eighties, he clearly can’t. Last time I saw him conduct he looked seriously unwell.

  • fflambeau says:

    Time to pass the baton?

    He’s a great conductor, but age gets to everyone.

  • Brendan Ball says:

    What nonsense! Jansons is the best conductor I have ever worked for. This is also the opinion of friends in the BRSO, the people who count when it comes to the Chief Conductor.

    • Chris says:

      Is he still tone deaf like he was in Pittsburgh? When we had him as MD, he couldn’t sing a C major triad, even if you spotted him the C and the E. He had his pets, like most MD’s, but many of us were astounded at his deficiencies. We actually started showing our disagreement in rehearsals when he tried to tune chords because he almost always pointed up, no matter which note he was tuning and he never knew to start with the root. He would tell the person playing the third to go higher and higher, much to our dismay. Oh, and he couldn’t count to 5. Ever play Petroushka with him?

  • Enrique Araujo-Alvarez B. says:

    I think

  • Enrique Araujo-Alvarez B. says:

    I think that MJ is very ill and for his sake he should retire at time. It is useless to keep pushing Cronos.