Olga Neuwirth gets gonged

Olga Neuwirth gets gonged


norman lebrecht

December 09, 2019

A day after the premiere of Orlando, the Austrian composer has been awarded the national order for science and art: Österreichischen Ehrenzeichen für Wissenschaft und Kunst.



  • In the US, “gonged” is a bad thing, failure.

    • For those not in the US, in the 1930s-50s there was a well-known amateur talent show on radio in which failing acts were cut short with the sound of a gong.

      The memory of this was strong enough that a new talent show was created for television in the 1970s actually called “The Gong Show.”

      It featured many spectacularly bad acts, the worst of which were indeed gonged off the stage.

  • Hermann the German says:

    Grammar and Verbs in different languages
    to be awarded in German: verliehen werden, but: the medal should read: österreichisches Ehrenzeichen…….
    I do hope her Music will last, the opera survive.

  • anon says:

    On the east side of the pond, gonged is British slang for a medal or military decoration. On the west side, urban dictionaries define it as something else:


    • Saxon Broken says:

      Not exactly. The comedy store in London gonged acts off the stage when the audience didn’t like them. So it has that meaning in England as well.

  • John Borstlap says:

    She is rewarded for her punk protest against the establishment by the establishment.

    • Tamino says:

      In the home country of Siegmund Freud. The bourgeoisie has a collective death wish.

      • John Borstlap says:

        The bourgeoisie wants to be seen as anti-bourgeois, so that the anti-bourgeois protests can be absorbed into their fold. This means that the bourgeoisie of the present is quite different from the bourgeoisie that protested against Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, and against Picasso and Freud. I think the protesting Viennese bourgeoisie at Schoenberg’s concerts had more guts than the present one which applauds their punky offspring.


        But then, what is exactly ‘the bourgeoisie’? People working at offices of insurance companies who visit a symphony concert? A dentist who is dragged by his wife to the opera – and is it his wife or himself who is bourgeois? The young shop keeper who saves money to attend the proms? The notion is created by social generalizations of ‘classes’ the boundaries of which are highly debatable. And then, bourgeois is not a (dis-)qualification, it is only used in a pejorative sense by people who look at society through leftish, marxist glasses, coloured by ideology (= pre-emptive theory) and not by the reality of people.

        • Tamino says:

          According to Marx – a very capable philosopher as far as analysis and criticism of capitalism is concerned, not so well thought through though when it comes to describing an alternative utopia of communism – the bourgeoisie is the class of the owners in capitalism. Thus it is a disappearing class, since the gap between the rich 1% and the rest is widening everywhere. Only if a strong middle class exists – a class with co-ownership of the society’s capital – can the arts thrive outside of closed aristocratic or plutocratic (=neo-aristocratic) circles.
          That’s for instance also the problem of the MET. It was built with seat numbers for a strong middle class. But that class is shrinking, and New work needs only smaller venues in the future for the entertainment of the upper 1% or 5% best case. (and a few aficionados who still shell out the money).

          • John Borstlap says:

            Agreed. And there is nothing wrong with a strong middle class. Besides, there is also nothing wrong with being rich; this is only a problem if the means by which people got rich are immoral.