Mirga’s sick. Her sub has 24 hours to learn new score

Mirga’s sick. Her sub has 24 hours to learn new score


norman lebrecht

December 12, 2019

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra told its patrons last night: ‘The conductor has changed for your concert tomorrow.’

Wonder why? This morning:

We are sorry to announce that Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has had to withdraw from the concert this week due to illness. We are very grateful to Christoph Koenig, who will be replacing Mirga at such short notice. The programme remains the same as advertised and we very much hope that you enjoy the concert.

The programme?

Elgar Two Part Songs, Op. 26, 10′

Jörg Widmann Das heisse Herz (CBSO Centenary Commission: UK Premiere), 32′

Brahms Symphony No. 3, 37′


Koenig had 24 hours to learn the new work.

Toi bloody toi!


UPDATE: Check the review tomorrow, only in Slipped Disc.


  • John Borstlap says:

    Amazing, thinking of Widmann’s type of work. Great achievement if one gets done something like that.

    I know of a young french conductor who was flown-in late in the night before the concert on the afternoon of the next day for a programme, to be broadcast on radio, with Messiaen and Revueltas, big works with chorus he never had conducted, and he learned the scores throughout the night, without sleeping, and led the concert professionally and sucessfully the next day. After that, he had to be carried to the hotel on a stretcher (by way of speaking).

  • Lohengrinloh says:

    She is not a conductor anyway.

  • pageturner says:

    You could say, that it’s under such circumstances you really find out how good a musician they really are – does he really get into the work, or just blandly flap around whilst the orchestra pull something off based on their own hard work. It will be interesting to read about it when the crits are published.

    • John Borstlap says:

      As long as he turns towards the orchestra during the concert, all is well.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      At that kind of notice, and without a rehearsal, the only aim is to get through it without a disaster. There is no chance of an “interpretation” and if he tries to do that it likely will end in disaster.

  • Fridolf says:

    Christoph is a fantastic musician. The Birmingham audiences and musicians are in for a treat. He’s the real deal.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Christoph will do a fabulous job , no doubt. These things do happen, and being at the right place at the right time could alter the course of moving forward for a performer or conductor. Several years ago, the music director in Calgary had to cancel his appearance with me, and one of the pieces on the bill of fare was the Canadian premiere of a mammoth new work by William Bolcom (Prometheus, for piano, orchestra and chorus). Stepping in with less than 48 hours to learn this huge composition with other works on the program, was Melanie Leonard. She was absolutely amazing and did a remarkable job.

  • Byrwec Ellison says:

    I attended that concert this evening (am visiting from US and had been very much looking forward to hearing Mirga).

    For my money, Widmann’s song cycle (on poems from Heine, Knaben Wunderhorn, a couple of 20th century poets) was the best performed work on the program. The orchestration is splashy. One brief but memorable song was a cabaret number, and there were even subtle hints of Mahler. Bravo to baritone Thomas Bauer, substitute conductor Koenig and the CBSO musicians for pulling it off!

  • Greg Bottini says:

    What does “Toi bloody toi!” mean?