Just in: Mariss cancels Carnegie Hall

Just in: Mariss cancels Carnegie Hall


norman lebrecht

November 09, 2019

Mariss Jansons’ on-off tour with the Bavarian Radio Symphony has hit its biggest pothole yet with his withdrawal from tonight’s concert at Carnegie Hall.

Liverpool’s Vasily Petrenko jumps in.

The problems appear to be persistent.

UPDATE: He was apparently unwell in last night’s concert.

New York Classical Review reports: He seemed physically exhausted on Friday evening, at times barely giving a beat and struggling to lift his arms as high as his score. The concertmaster often beat time with the scroll of his violin, suggesting that Jansons wasn’t entirely in control of the performance…

Concerns about Jansons only became keener at the start of the second half: the orchestra did not return to the stage for a good fifteen minutes after the audience was seated, and the conductor himself did not appear until several minutes thereafter.  


Read on here.



  • Edgar says:

    I fear there si something more serious going on…

  • Scott Fruehwald says:

    Thanks for getting this up so fast. It appeared about 10 minutes after I emailed you.

    I am going to the concert tonight, and I will post here if there is any more news.

    Jansons has been one of my favorite conductors in recent years, and this latest cancellation is very troubling.

  • John Kelly says:

    The NY Classical Reviewer is right. I felt awful as I saw Jansons move slowly toward the stage looking like a man much greater than his age. The orchestra members were clearly somewhat alarmed. Diana Damrau had to help him down from the podium after the 4 Last Songs. While on the podium we heard marvellously manicured Strauss and Brahms. The orchestra is wonderful, but the Brahms was slow and reminiscent of hearing Klemperer at the end of his career. Still very good mind you and, amazingly, he returned for an encore (Brahms Hungarian Dance) and seemed to be enjoying himself. I did notice in between movements of the Brahms him saying something to the orchestra along the lines of “give me another minute I will be OK”. I met him ten years ago after an Alpine Symphony in Amsterdam and he looked like he’d just run a marathon. He gives 110%. He still tries to and obviously he loves to conduct and the orchestra love him. His Dad, whose rehearsals I attended so many years ago in Manchester died rehearsing the Halle. Let’s hope Mariss gets better!!

    • Olassus says:

      Where was the NY Times?

      • Paul says:

        These days they often don’t bother to review even major orchestras and soloists who perform at Carnegie or at Lincoln Center. (To say nothing of elsewhere.) The way the TIMES (NY) covers classical music is an utter disgrace. But then no one in a position to change matters there cares—or knows—anything about classical music.

    • John kelly says:

      Vasily Petrenko stepped in a have a brilliant Shostakovich 10th. A superb concert. My word how good principal oboe and bassoon are. This orchestra made me think I was listening to the Berlin Philharmonic….

    • Scott Fruehwald says:

      I talked to friends who had been to the Friday concert, and they said the same thing. One friend said he looked very pale during the concert. Also, the orchestra looked very worried, and that may have affected the quality of the concert.

      Those of us who went last night were very lucky. Petrenko did a very fine job. It was his Carnegie Hall debut.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I have the gravest of concerns reading this. He obviously has heart failure.

  • William says:

    I think this a unnecessarily nasty review!

    It has been known for twenty years that Janson’s is living his life in a state of poor health.

    There are many other ways in which a meaningful and informative review could have been written without negativity and personal showing off.

    Jansons is a fine and proud man of great musical distinction as you have commented.

    He will, I feel sure, decide when he can no longer enter into contracts that he will be unlikely to fulfil.

    Reviews such as this may unnecessarily hasten such a decision.

    • Amos says:

      Sorry but there is a fine line between perseverance for the good of a tour and selfishness for trying to carry on when you are clearly not up to the task. George Szell faced a similar dilemma when approaching his last tour with the CO in 1970. With the exception of a single concert in Japan, he managed to harness the will to give extraordinary performances and passed away 2 months later. Based on all the reports and what I watched on tape earlier this year MJ is unfortunately well past the line.

  • Tamino says:

    Borderline criminal.
    Somebody please sue the management of BRSO for allowing this.
    This is a new low in ‘Verarschung’ of the audience.
    It’s also called “über Leichen gehen” (walking over (almost) dead bodies) in German.

    And we are not even talking about, how a Radio orchestra is financing a tour to the US from German public license fees. Have they managed to finance it fully by private sponsors? I really hope so.

    What are they doing in the US? Why are they not in the studio recording for their constituents?

    • Walter says:

      This is an appalling, uninformed comment. All orchestras need to tour. It raises standards and reputation. Something that the home audience should be proud of.
      It is sad and unfortunate that Jansons, one of the great conductors of our age, is now so unwell. Your first paragraph, in particular, is a disgrace.

      • Tamino says:

        It’s unfortunate he is unwell indeed. I wish him the best. It’s irrelevant in matters of existential health and professionalism, if he is a great conductor or a bus driver by the way. But those who allow this are doing a very wrong thing.
        Yes, touring can be good for orchestras. But the Bavarian Radio orchestra is known for having a distorted sense of reality when it comes to why they exist in the first place and who pays their salaries. It’s just a matter of time the Landesrechnungshof takes a closer look again and recommends to outsource the orchestra. Good luck then with the financing of tours and anything else.

    • Beryl says:

      U ok hun?

  • Tom Rakewell says:

    He’s got to stop.

  • kundry says:

    I am not surprised that Jansons would go on tour and conduct, in spite of what seems to be a most dangerous medical situation. Singers and instrumentalists cancel when they have health issues, conductors don’t. Sense of professional duty, ego, I don’t know , but it happened time and time again, historically. A few died on the podium. Knowing all that, I find the position of the management of the Orchestra bordering on criminal. They should get him rest and proper medical help and not LET him push toward what seems to be a fatal accident waiting to happen. Best advice – while in the US – go to Cleveland – the best heart hospital in the world ! If anything can be done , the amazing doctors there will do it.
    I wish him all the best!

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    It is surprising that he still maintains a full schedule & music directorship of a major orchestra when his health is so fragile. Claudio Abbado was wise when he cut down on his performances after his health declined.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    This is very sad indeed. We’re thinking of you, Maestro Jansons.

  • Monsoon says:

    Even in publicity photos it looks like he’s aged a lot in the last 3 years.

    I hope he retires to focus on his health. This isn’t a way to close out a career.

  • fflambeau says:

    End note is near? Sad.

  • JG says:

    We were there and quite wondering why the delay also at the start of the concert and as mentioned after the break – and his lackluster conducting. And then also Damrau was sick – not a good night for the BRSO (and the audience)

  • ML says:

    In his tour to East Asia, George Szell was also completely exhausted and could barely finish the concert. I think he also told musicians to help themselves in Eroica in their last concert in Anchorage.

  • Drake says:

    According to people who were waiting at the stage door wishing to see Maestro Jansons after the concert, people from backstage told them that initially the second half would be canceled. But Jansons insisted that he would finish the concert. That’s why the concert resumed more than 15 minutes after audience was seated. And there was ambulance at the corner of Carnegie Hall. Hope Jansons is well.

  • NYMike says:

    Saturday’s concert was thrilling under Petrenko who luckily was in town conducting the MET. His knowledge of the repertoire required no changing of the program which included Shostakovich 10th, done outstandingly well. Buchbinder’s Fledermaus paraphrase and the BRO’s
    Shostakovich encores were equally fine.

  • Po says:

    I was lucky enough to hear him and Bayerisher Rundfunk just a month ago in Munich Herkulessal; my goodness the music this orchestra made in this hall, like hand in glove. Even when they were in Amsterdam Concertgebow you don‘t have this magic. And you can clearly see the members played for Jansons with devotion. Wish him well!

  • Musiclover says:

    Maestro Jansons should perhaps stop doing the American tours. Jetlag would hurt a man so much in such fragile health. I hope the BRSO can come up with a less gruelling schedule than what they are doing now. Maybe going on tour with guests (not that they lack star guest conductors), leaving the Maestro focus on doing the subscription concerts in Munich? That would preserve the quality of the orchestra while being less demanding of the man.

  • Filharmonika says:

    anyone knows how is Maestro now?any better?

  • Alan says:

    This man should retire!