Does Jaap Van Zweden want to head the Concertgebouw?

Does Jaap Van Zweden want to head the Concertgebouw?


norman lebrecht

January 07, 2020

He’s conducting in Amsterdam this week.

They asked him the question.

Here’s what he said: ‘This fantastic orchestra in this great hall? Who would not seriously consider that! But I shall concentrate on my scores and not on what I don’t have.’

He went on to point out that the orchestra lacks not only a chief conductor but a chief executive, an artistic director and a board chairman. All four would have to ‘point their noses’ in the same direction (at least that’s what he said in Google Translate).


  • Rgiarola says:

    The dutch magazine Het Parool asked him about it. Perhaps it is sounding like if the Orchestra did it, but it isn’t the point in this article.
    Dear Norman, Concertgebouw was in a hurry just to fire Gatti (and after that the rushed ones were fired by their hurry like Danton and Robespierre).
    How long Chicago took after Barenboin? Philadelphia after Eschenbach? and other examples.
    Actually after this mention of Philadelphia, a joke about hiring Dutoit for a while isn’t that bad. Politically incorrect, but it worked in Kimmel center. LoL

  • John Borstlap says:

    Obviously, JvZw does not want to get entangled in a complicated political situation. And he is right to not express any intention before the KCO has reorganised itself. And then, settling back in the Netherlands has its own disadvantages for Dutch artists, so I would think he is better off abroad.

  • Luigi Nonono says:

    The artistic director should be the same person as chief conductor.

    • Tamino says:

      Only if the said person does commit fully to that house and does not overextend her-/himself in guest appearances elsewhere. With power comes responsibility.

      • Paul Lewis says:

        ‘’Overextend herself?’’ Sorry but I’ve yet to hear any female conductor, except possibly Marin Alsop, who is up to the job as chief conductor of one of the World’s finest orchestras.

        • S says:

          No one asked for your sexist opinion. Quality has nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with opportunity.

          • Tamino says:

            Quality first of hall has to do with talent, ambition and hard work. Then comes opportunity.

          • Paul Lewis says:

            Problem with people like you is that everything is sexist if it doesn’t confirm with your agenda. My comment was exactly concerning quality but unfortunately you are unable to understand that.

  • It’s clear for everybody that van Zweden is the frontrunner but maybe he will have a problem of calendar with his other duties. But anyway the orchestra can stay one or two year without artistic director. For the moment the most important thing is that the soloists stay. They don’t move. The Chrsitmas concert with Franz Welser-Möst (why not him?) was magnificent. It’s on replay on the web page of the dutch tv.

  • Novagerio says:

    A natural move, being one of the former concertmasters of the orchestra. If only he could get his shoulders covered by a strong management….

    • Novagerio says:

      To the five dislikes:
      Are you people lobbiests or trolls?
      Jaap was the Let’s concertmaster and successor of Herman Krebbers for almost 2 decades. Wich part of Concertgebouw history don’t you imbeciles understand??
      I – again, point out:
      It would be a logical move, since he’s the former concertmaster of the orchestra, I only wish him a good manager backing him up and not acting behind his back!! Got it now????

      • John Borstlap says:

        It is not an ‘a priori’ logical step for a concert master to become the orchestra’s chief conductor. The players will think: why is it HIM to now tell US what to do? Also, he will be suddenly paid much more than the players. The Concertgebouw Orchestra is notorious for its low salaries as compared with other orchestras in the same league, so there is lots of material for psycho trouble.

        • NYMike says:

          What did the players think when Haitink came out of the viola section?

        • RobertJH says:

          I doubt that many (if any) of the current orchestra members were in the orchestra when he was concertmaster. And he has well established himself as a successful and highly in demand conductor in the international scene, so it is not like he is promoted directly from concertmaster to being their chief conductor.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    He makes good, common sense points.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    How did they get to lacking four key people simultaneously?

    Someone has to be running the place, no?

  • fflambeau says:

    It could happen as he’s Dutch and since he’s not doing that well in NYC. He is not as good as Alan Gilbert.

    NYC might make a run at the Dude.

    • John Borstlap says:

      In contrary, JvZw is doing very well in NY, because Gilbert was not so good – much 20C modernist music and mediocre to quite underwhelmed classics, which left audiences mostly cold.

      • Guus Mostart says:

        I do not often agree with Mr. Borstlap but it is true that JvZ is a much more interesting conductor than Gilbert. A couple of years ago I heard Gilbert conduct Mahler at Lincoln Center – all the lights on and nobody home.

        • Tromba in F says:

          Agreed. Gilbert did nothing to enhance the standing of NYP. I would opine that the sound of the orchestra actually declined. The programming certainly did. The jury is still out on JvZ but I don’t think he will have a very long tenure in NY. Hopefully they don’t pursue Dudamel as his successor.

  • Patrick says:

    The Google translation is ludicrous. What Jaap said is that not having four key positions filled is a bit much and that can be noticed on the stage.

    • John Borstlap says:

      I still find the best google translation ‘sick fried rhino fart’ for ‘Siegfried’s Rhinefahrt’.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    He is probably the only regular conductor of this orchestra who speaks Dutch (a much easier language to learn than German by the way), with the exception of Ivan Fischer (who is not a contender because he is too much focused on composing & is a bit idiosyncratic, a pity as his real gift lies in conducting & communicating).

    • John Borstlap says:

      Dutch is not an easy language at all, as so many immigrants find-out to their horror. Although the language is not heavily burdened by irrational cases like German, its complexities send non-native speakers often in a kafkaesque labyrinth when they have to deal with the authorities, who cultivate a pleasure in preventing foreigners to understand the Dutch way of doing things.

  • Liliane says:

    I don’t blame him to be in love with the concert hall in Amsterdam when he has to come back to New York And face a real pit ! At David Geffen hall !!

    • John Borstlap says:

      The NY Phil will have specially interesting programming and probably as interesting projects while they perform at other venues. And when they are relieved from the Geffen acoustics, they may actually improve their sound, with JvZw at the helm.

  • Frank says:

    The Parool reporter, Erik Voermans, notes in his review of this week’s Sacre that the orchestra did not show any signs of happiness and satisfaction as the audience was applauding the concert and the conductor. No violin bows tapping the stands, no smiles on faces. In Amsterdam the orchestra decides about hiring a conductor. This leads to conductors such as Gatti, who is a pleasant enough guy, but not good for the orchestra; same may be said about Jansons. They will most likely never vote for Van Zweden.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Fact is, that Van Zweden does not need the Concertgebouw Orchestra. He is so much in demand that he can choose what he wants. He has a special relationship – where it ‘clicks’ on all levels – with the Hong Kong Phil and with a couple of other orchestras where he comes as a guest, like the Orchestre de Paris. The Dutch radio orchestra also much enjoys working with him – they are not as arrogant as the CO. Where truly musical players want to get the best out of themselves, they love conductors who uncork them.

      To understand how he works with the players’ capacities, it is interesting to know how he did it in HK. When he came there, the orchestra consisted of really good players and of players whose level was not so good. Instead of kicking-out the ‘bad’ players, as happens often when a new chief takes-over, he worked extra hard to get their level raised, in which he succeeded, so that they mixed better with the rest, and in doing so he created a kind of ‘family atmosphere’ in the orchestra with the result that the level of all the players improved. In this way he arrived at a homogenous all-over level, and that is why his Wagner Ring (Naxos) was such a success. It does not only depend upon the conductor but also upon the willingness of the players, so that a chemistry comes into being.