Conductors behaving badly

Conductors behaving badly


norman lebrecht

January 21, 2020

1 Valery Gergiev – no-show for Lohengrin in Vienna

2 Jun Märkl – huffs off over an airline ticket

3 Christophe Rousset – got rough with Houston players

4 Emmanuel Krivine – goes missing on tour

5 Paavo Järvi – can’t speak, won’t speak

6 Daniel Harding – gone flying

….all in a week’s work.




  • pageturner says:

    Other instances abound – allegedly, there was that incident with JE Gardiner, the part time farmer, with a member of the LSO last season or the season before – reported on SD at the time.

  • erich says:

    Over praised and overpaid…

  • says:

    Slow news day?

  • Lohengrinloh says:


    I would rather wait 1hr for Hergiev or Järvi than bear marketed mediocrities.

  • Luciano says:

    Mikko Franck? Back to his cancelling ways..

    • BP says:

      He has a recurring and seemingly quite painful back issue. Had a rough go of it as a child. And certainly he wouldn’t bail out on a Salome production in Vienna without good reason. Sometimes it’s better to stay quiet.

    • jobim75 says:

      I think he has real health issues….

      • Donald Hansen says:

        About 20 years ago (could be more) in San Francisco he conducted from an elevated chair. At that time it was reported that he had a severe recurrent case of asthma. He had to cancel appearances the next season because of the asthma. Hasn’t been back since.

    • Kelly says:

      I know for a fact the man has had chronic and debilitating back issues for many years now. He’s doing the best he can

  • Caranome says:

    Fire them all! How many are top ticket drawers anyway? With so many new talent coming up, music mgmt types should show some back bone and say ” prima donnas unwelcome, and won’t work in my house.” Execute a couple, the rest will fall in line.

  • Allen says:

    What do you mean by “Christophe Rousset – got rough with Houston players” ?

    In the other Slippedisc article there is no mention of him “getting rough”. ???

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Because ‘getting rough’ these days, for the snowflakes whose sensitivities are constantly rubbed raw, is “would you live to come and look at my etchings”!!

      Clue: “No, thanks”.

      • Amos says:

        You should consider limiting your posts to expressions of condolence. Sadly it is the only occasion when a glimmer of humanity is evident.

  • Emil says:

    Christophe Rousset did what, now? Your article on the subject merely says he left due to “personal circumstances”.

  • Amos says:

    The list is an indictment of the state of conducting in the 21st century. No one on this list, even the Putin acolyte, would have been a candidate for a meaning position during the golden age of 20th-century music directors. Although there were clearly extra-musical reasons keep in mind that it took Klemperer well into his 60’s before he led a first-class orchestra on a regular basis. Given the number of conducting students around the world it is astounding how few quality leaders have been produced. Perhaps the “old” system of mastering an instrument, taking a stab at composition and learning your craft by committing your time to small regional orchestras/opera companies was the best model. Modern economics may prevent the last tool but there has to be a meaningful alternative to learning the art of conducting.

  • Doug says:

    Apparently those bags of cash are getting lighter. Conductors must take a lesson from Tony Soprano.

  • sam says:

    how is pursuing a parallel career (pilot) “behaving badly”?

    not even flying for Air France rather than for British Airways would be “behaving badly”, considering in his night job (funny, conducting IS a night job), no british orchestra ever offered him a full time job

    • JP Qian says:

      I think his decision is very respectful. Flying a flight is actually a very challenging profession. If he can do both well, why not? In fact he is surely one of the best living conductors of our time.

    • ML says:

      Conducting is also a day job. Rehearsals start like 10 in the morning, and many music directors would sit on the podium at, for example, 9:30 to see who has come in and who has not. Anyone with sleep issues may find this job challenging.

  • There is so much conducting talent available now, more than ever in history but without quality opportunities to develop, there will be nothing to follow the inevitable collapse of the current hoary generation of celebrity conductors. Don’t wait for Gergiev, engage a less exposed talent. And while you’re at it, stop performing the same old shit again and again.

    • Amos says:

      So the collapse of the system which enabled virtually every reasonably populated city in Germany, as one example, to support an orchestra/opera company is the reason we have such a dearth of first-rate conductors? Respectfully, since you opted to weigh in would you offer an honest assessment as to why someone with your training as a violinist and conductor has not been afforded a regular opportunity to display the latter talent with orchestras of commensurate expertise?

      • Simple awareness. There are so many like me.

        • Amos says:

          I appreciate your taking the time to respond but I don’t think there are so many like you. I have attended and listened to too many performances indifferently led to accept that explanation. I think the process used to determine who gets pushed forward vs. those who toil in relative anonymity is often maddeningly based on extra-musical circumstances.

          • Such as? Are speaking of the elephant in the room?

          • Amos says:

            There are many and yes the “elephant” is one of them. Who a young conductor is associated with seems to have a disproportionate effect on their career prospects as do qualities that lend themselves to PR.

          • Younger or older conductor, I can’t argue with that. Perhaps you know someone to who I might appeal…

          • Amos says:

            If wishing were so. On various occasions, I’ve expressed my admiration in this blog for a colleague of your’s Ms. Falletta. Even though it was brief, a Julliard masterclass, I can’t believe that her association with LB hasn’t been helpful in establishing her career. All the best!

    • Amos says:

      At the risk of seeming patronizing I would urge everyone to listen to your Bax Concerto performance:

    • pageturner says:

      That’s right, there’s plenty of new sh*t being written by hot shot “composers” barely out of their latest nappy change at some conservatoire that has barely imparted the basics of musical form etc to them, only for their god awful masterpiece to be performed by some nameless soup stirrer of a “conductor” with little / no experience or any idea or what interpretation actually is. So you can see why the Gergiev’s of this world get booked and the same tired repertoire gets programmed, alas. Personally, I am avoiding Currentis et al doing Beethoven for the next decade, in preference to searching out composers with something to say that I have spent too little time with thus far. Enescu, Gade, Reger, Stenhammer, Rontgen, even Vaughan Williams, Holst and names that are not totally unknown to the average concert-goer. I wish I was an orchestra administrator, how I’d freshen it up, given the opportunity and budget to try something new.

      • I agree! I wish Enescu’s Symphony No.3 was performed somewhere every week. It’s a masterpiece.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        “I wish I was an orchestra administrator, how I’d freshen it up, given the opportunity and budget to try something new.”

        The budget is the problem. If people don’t turn up then there is no budget. And you and the musicians no longer have a job.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Il stuzzicadenti is a sham, a pagliaccio, a greedy opportunist, disgusting in both his professional and personal habits.
    I am at a loss as to why he keeps getting hired.

  • Mozart says:

    Good! Give next generation a chance!

  • Gustavo says:

    7 Susanna Mälkki – exits Parrot

  • Edgar says:

    A peculiar kind of maestro myth lives on, I see: “The Absent Conductor….”


  • Nijinsky says:

    If that’s bad behavior on Gergiev’s part he’s off the pages would he ever want to be a professional bad boy, something most of those creative spirits he’s exploiting were capable of in contrast to him and his whole confederacy. Further more, what an effect to leave people breathless ( same as Domingo )when not only do they have no breath left over to finish a phrase in a restive manner, let alone allow it to exist on the page, but give up on learning to or caring to sing in this age glowing with the mechanics of mind control and instrumentalism rather than being human.

  • Nijinsky says:

    There once was a picky painter
    He fell in love a with a fainter
    She hit him so hard
    He turned into a bard
    And the sound ( sewned or sowned ) just kept getting quainter

  • Ben says:

    Nobody could wing it and fake it like Gergiev … I give him that.