Exclusive: London Philharmonic signs a music director

Exclusive: London Philharmonic signs a music director


norman lebrecht

July 22, 2019

Word is fluttering around the Glyndebourne hedgerows that the LPO is ready to announce its next music director, successor to Vladimir Jurowski after 12 eventful years.

We hear that the incoming chief will be Edward Gardner, former music director at English National Opera and presently with the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway.

Gardner, 44, is a capable performer with a wide repertoire, well liked by singers and soloists and putting in a good shift as principal guest with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

He will benefit immediately from higher public recognition than the untested new Finn at the Philharmonia, Santtu-Matias Rouvali. He will also appeal to those who have called for more national content in the post-Brexit landscape.

With Sir Simon Rattle at the LSO, London will for the first time in decades have two leading music directors who are British born and bred.



  • Doug says:

    Are you sure he is? Perhaps another case of a premature website posting? Just making sure…

  • Esther Cavett says:

    ==…London will for the first time in decades have two leading music directors who are British born and bred

    Reminds me of the Georg Solti story. He was rehearsing at ROH the day after he had received his British citizenship. The soprano was Hungarian and soon they were embroiled in a blazing row which ended when she stormed off. Solti grinned at the orchestra and said “see, bloody foreigners!”

  • Pirkko says:

    Rouvali ”untested”… in what way?

    • Alexander Hall says:

      I would have thought that Norman was spot on with his observation. Only half a dozen RFH concerts with the Philharmonia and nothing from the core repertory (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Bruckner and Mahler, and still counting), and not a single recording with them either. If that isn’t untested I don’t know what is.

      • P says:

        Ok… but he’s the chief conductor of another major orchestra and has given a ton of concerts to great acclaim. Many fellow musicians compare him to the likes of Dudamel etc.

        So he’s hardly “untested” – the classical music world does not revolve around London/Philharmonia.

      • Novagerio says:

        Alexander Hall: Besides public recognition. But hey, it’s standard Harrison & Parrott-horsepower (!)

      • Luigi Nonono says:

        Who on earth wants to hear more “core” repertoire? That is the problem with every conductor, not venturing further than the most commonplace music.

        • Alexander Hall says:

          You could of course programme Nono, Skalkottas, Boulez and Birtwistle to your heart’s content. See how quickly you’ll fill a concert-hall that way.

  • batonbaton says:

    Still nothing on the LPO website and insiders are remaining tight-lipped. If true, this could be good news as Gardner is more than competent, but I wonder if Gardner’s programming will be as adventurous as Jurowski’s has undoubtedly been. If not, it should become so.

  • Nicht Schleppend says:

    “a capable performer…”?

    Dreadfully dull more like it.

    Can Vlad be made to change his mind?

  • Nivagerio says:

    Great news!

  • Larry W says:

    This is a terrific choice. I recently attended Verdi’s Requiem with the Minnesota Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists led by Gardner (without a score). It was one of the finest and most compelling orchestral performances I have ever heard.

    • Luigi Nonono says:

      That is one of the world’s finest orchestras, certainly among the most committed, disciplined, artistic.

  • Anton Bruckner says:

    Seems like a nice chap but a boring choice for MD. The pendulum seems to be heavily inclined towards the Barbican in the next few years (LSO and BBCSO) in view of the offering at the RFH (LPO and Philarmonia in a drive towards mediocrity and RPO which lost relevance and is unlikely to be anything more than a middle of the road orchestra performing regurgitated classical hits – V Petrenko who made an odd/suicidal career move by becoming the MD of this Enigma Variations orchestra is unlikely to change this).

  • Esther Cavett says:

    ==untested new Finn at the Philharmonia, Santtu-Matias Rouvali

    I was very unimpressed with S-MR’s Bartok here :


    Doesn’t bode well for his London tenure

    • John Sorel says:

      Gardner isn’t known to be ea bloodsports enthusiast, either. It seems unlikely we could expect nuanced performances from someone who gets their jollies from blowing woodland animals away with a shotgun? What can we expect from SMR? Suite from The Cunning Little Vixen? Theme from Bambi? Soundtrack from The Deer Hunter?

  • Schoenberglover says:

    He is scheduled to conduct the LPO in 4 different programmes next season at RFH. Feels like quite a lot if he weren’t expected to be MD designate…

    • Harmonious Dragmaster says:

      . . . and apparently a similar number the following season.

      Official LPO announcement expected on Thursday . . . once BoJo has been crowned total arsehole!

  • Petros Linardos says:

    The first sentence contradicts the headline. Are we supposed to take headlines seriously?

  • Pandora says:

    Allegedly, the LPO musicians are strongly opposed to his appointment and half of the players have signed a letter of protest to the management.

    • Rustier spoon says:

      I wonder who they’d be after instead…they NEED a complete change.

    • Andrew G says:

      Seems likely. Such a tired, too-comfortable group of musicians, happy to descend to 3rd or 4th place among London orchestras, desperately scared of change or challenge! Surprised the other half didn’t sign.

      • Tom Suarez says:

        What a nonsensical comment. Quite the opposite of being “comfortable”, musicians in any major orchestra — especially the LPO and other over-worked British orchestras — are “tired” only due to their demanding schedules and the extremely high standards to which they hold themselves, and are held.

  • If so, lunchbag letdown. 🙁

  • Gustavo says:

    So it seems we need more non-scientific top-20 lists of designated conductors based on origin and nationality?

  • Vlad Forever says:

    This fellow is not worthy of cleaning Vladimir Jurowski’s boots, let alone be the next music director of the London Philharmonic! I feel very sorry for the players and seriously hope that this stupid decision doesn’t prevail…

    • Richard Bloesch says:

      According to the Wikipedia article on Vasilly Petrenko, he has been chosen as the next conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, beginning with the 2021 season. I’m not sure where they got this information, but if it is incorrect, someone should inform Wikipedia.

      Richard Bloesch

    • Edgar says:

      Move to Munich. Your nom de plume indicatse you are a Vlad junkie. Munich is a wonderful place to live. Not as expensive as London, but pretty close. Other than that: gorgeous R&R opportunities all around, and never boring. Oh, and the beer….

      • Gustavo says:

        What about Amsterdam for Vlad post Brexit?

        • John Sorel says:

          VJ is already announced at Bavarian State Opera, where he has guest-conducted several productions to great success. But he plans to out in splendour with the LPO, with a Ring Cycle at the RFH.

    • sycorax says:

      I think Jurowski is one of the most important and interesting conductors of his generation, but that doesn’t mean Gardner is bad. I’ve heard him in Bergen with the Gurre lieder and was surprised how damn good he was and how exciting I found it – despite that I wasn’t first too keen on hearing it again.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Just judging from his Bergen/Chandos recordings of Janacek and Schonberg’s “Gurrelieder”, E. Gardner seems pretty good to me.

    • Gustavo says:

      Agree, the most interesting Chandos-recordings are those of British orchestras conducted by non-British conductors (e.g. RSNO/Järvi, BBC Phil/Noseda, BBC Symp/Oramo), and vice versa!

  • John Sorel says:

    And where would this leave Robin Ticciati – MD of Glyndebourne, but not MD of its orchestra?

  • Con Moto says:

    What is this – the Heat Magazin of the classical music ??