London Philharmonic’s new chief harks back to golden Tennstedt era

London Philharmonic’s new chief harks back to golden Tennstedt era


norman lebrecht

July 26, 2019

In a gentle baptismal interview with the Times – the only UK newspaper to carry classical interviews – the LPO’s Edward Gardner earns a million brownie points with this reader by recalling his formative musical experience. He says:

‘I’m thrilled to be chosen as principal conductor of the very orchestra that gave me my first truly inspirational symphonic experiences, when it was playing Mahler under Klaus Tennstedt back in the early 1980s.’

Play it again, Ed.

NL with KT, c.1991

In other comments, Gardner lampoons the BBC’s latest quest for ‘passionate minds’ in the 35-54 age range.

Gardner says: ‘I find that kind of age-group stereotyping incredibly patronising. What is it saying? That the over-54s listen without passion and only want Brahms symphonies? My belief is that if you are bold in your programming, and give absolutely everything you’ve got to your music-making, you will get a passionate response from people of all ages.’


  • Esther Cavett says:

    Damn all the cigarettes which poor old Tennstedt kept smoking. They must (like with Lenny) have seriously shortened his glorious career.

    Everyone talks (quite rightly) about KT’s Bruckner and Mahler but the Beethoven (esp IMO symphony 1) was revelatory.

    It’s wonderful that Gardner sees him as a role model !

    • Greg Bottini says:

      So true, Ms. Cavett, so true.
      DAMN cigarettes and the havoc they wreak.
      And I agree with you about KT’s Beethoven. Glorious!

  • Una says:

    Ed Gardener is both very capable and talented, as nice.

  • Player says:

    There was a good interview with him on the wireless this morning (Today programme). Straight after a piece from Bayreuth (on politics)!

    Anyone who heard his conducting of Die Meistersinger at the Coli in 2015 knows he is becoming a great conductor, year by year. As it should be.

    And another Old Etonian in charge of something. They are ubiquitous!

  • erich says:

    A great omen when one of today’s really talented conductors is not afraid to remind people of one of the greatest (and too often forgotten)figures of the past.

    • Pamela Brown says:

      I agree. All these years later I remember with great fondness perhaps the most astonishingly beautiful Mahler 1 I have ever heard was with Tennstedt and the Minnesota Orchestra. Such life he breathed into that piece!

  • Rob says:

    Tennstedt in a different league altogether.

    Klaus’s Mendelssohn 4th Symphony with the BPO is my favourite of that piece!

  • Chris in New York says:

    Great memories of Tennstedt at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis in the 1980s: Mahler, Bruckner and Beethoven with the Minnesota Orchestra, and Brahms with the LPO on tour. Still the best Brahms 1 I have ever heard.

  • PETER L says:

    I was unfairly prejudiced against EG when he got ENO instead of CAETANI (I loved his Sir John in Love) BUT I heard him do Elgar 1 in Basingstoke with LPO on minimal rehearsal…it was overwhelming…..even fine than his mentor Sir Mark…his Chandos recordings are testimony to his versatility….

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I saw Tennstedt’s 1981 RFH performance of the Mahler “Resurrection”. It was much more ‘straight forward’ that this jerked around 1989 one (tempo wide). Very powerful.

  • Martin says:

    Yes the Tennstedt LPO era was so special and I was fortunate to have attended most of his London concerts, all unforgettable. It is wonderful to have many of them preserved on CD and DVD. Has the LPO been as good since? Perhaps not. I admire Ed Gardner very much and am very pleased indeed by his appointment. Two other Brits deserving of big jobs are Mark Wigglesworth, who has matured so much musically over the years and who I now rank with the very best, whether in opera house or concert platform. Another is Sir Richard Armstrong, one of the finest opera conductors we have (second only to Sir Mark Elder perhaps), as anyone who has heard recent his work for Opera North will testify. He did some amazing stuff at WNO way back in the 70s and 80s and has like a good wine, improved with age, as all conductors do.

    • Hobbes says:

      Having played under Gardner, Wigglesworth and Armstrong on several occasions I can assure you that none of them rank among the very best. They have been lucky to work with orchestras containing better musicians than they are, and are very good at taking the credit. Which can be said for a frighteningly high percentage of carvers out there, sadly.

    • Alan says:

      And some very good work with Scottish Opera too.

  • Scottish Musician says:

    “interview with the Times – the only UK newspaper to carry classical interviews”…really, Norman? Are you sure?

    The Herald carries them regularly, The Guardian aren’t regular with it, but they do appear, and the same goes for the FT. A fair number of regional newspapers also carry interviews.

    I never really understand why you need to exaggerate things to such an extreme extent. Aren’t accurate presentation and assessment of the facts the bedrock of good journalism?

  • Micaelo Cassetti says:

    He is totally correct about the Al-BBCera’s ageist comments; I have seen musicians in the BBC’s own Phil who must be half my age (and I’m just under sixty). Conversely, I know some over-50s who just really aren’t bothered at all by “classical” music.
    Music’s like food; we all have different tastes. My feelings are that the percentage of people in GB who enjoy classical music really will NOT vary much from year to year.
    Our main problem is that we contribute massively to “pop” music, whereas other countries have to stick a nationalistic label in front of pop to try and shift it. I lived in Vienna for a few years, and a frequent ad on the U-Bahn was for “Deutsche Pop”. Oddly, NOT Osterreichische…