Two Brits are frontrunners for Jansons Munich vacancy

Two Brits are frontrunners for Jansons Munich vacancy


norman lebrecht

January 20, 2020

The well-informed Robert Braunmüller at Munich’s Abendzeitung tips Simon Rattle and Daniel Harding as the likelest successors to the late Mariss Jansons at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Since Harding is taking a year off to be an airline pilot, that leaves Rattle out front as the one to beat.

Also mentioned is Franz Welser-Möst.

Read here.


  • Paul Dawson says:

    “the one to beat” Drop these puns, NB. It’s about time, but I’m not going to baton it.

  • Alexander Hall says:

    Harding is clearly not a front runner, as the headline suggests, and the article indicates that the initial enthusiasm he engendered has dissipated of late. Quite a number of qualifications are made about Rattle, not least the fact that he’s “expensive” (though that didn’t stop Bavarian Radio shelling out huge annual sums to secure the services of Maazel) and “65”, and the implication that he’s not quite happy with the LSO will surely come as a surprise to that orchestra. Altogether this article is based on a number of assumptions and subjective assessments rather than informed opinion.

  • Haselnuss says:

    I wouldn’t completely count out Yannick Nezet-Seguin either. Yes, he is very, very busy and already holds a position as chief-conductor at three different orchestras. However, he has a very special relationship with the BRSO and from a financial point of view, the BRSO has lots to offer. Nezet-Seguin will conduct the orchestra later this year. In my opinion, he is “locker, kommunikativ und einnehmend” as well. See also this article in the “Merkur”: Of course, when it comes to building new concert halls and dealing with politicians, Simon Rattle is the more experienced one (and would be an ideal candidate as well).

    • Tamino says:

      I know for fact Yannick is a very nice guy.
      But I‘m not looking for nice guys on the podium.
      I‘m looking for aspirational, inspired, knowledgeable, skilled artists with the right amount of genius that is ever so close to insanity.
      No more nice communicative and relaxed guys please. It‘s synonymous to mediocrity in the long run.
      They are always welcome to the reception afterwards though.

      It‘s not about how the musicians and the management feel…
      It‘s about how the audience feels…
      !!! (!)

      • Haselnuss says:

        “I‘m looking for aspirational, inspired, knowledgeable, skilled artists.” Ok, sure, so am I, but that doesn’t exclude Nezet-Seguin at all. He is not just “a nice guy” but a brilliant conductor who knows what he wants and how to get it from an orchestra. His music making with the BRSO in the past was something special. Over the last ten years I’ve never heard a “mediocre” concert with him. And by the way, his last concerts in Munich were received very well by the audience (insofar one can speak of an “audience”)…

        • Brian says:

          Absolutely agree with Haselnuss. I have never witnessed a boring or mediocre concert with this conductor. And I have been to many of his concerts all over Europe.

          I do sometimes wonder why so many extremely talented and successful people (who, as in this case, also happen to be charming) always get the usual stream of negative reactions, ranging from disparaging comments, as above, to full-on vitriol. It baffles me. I have even heard people speak negatively about artists whose concerts they have never attended.

          Without wanting to digress too far from the actual subject, let me just add that Mr Nézet-Séguin is also a brilliant pianist and chamber musician.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Yannick Nezet-Seguin already has Philadelphia and the Met. He is happy to combine them since they are only a short train ride apart. I think he has more-or-less said he won’t do two big jobs either side of the Atlantic at the same time.

  • It’s very tough to going after Jansons. I don’t believe one second that Rattle will work at the same time with the Rundfunk and the LSO. Welser Most seems a proposition more serious from the journalist. Harding could be serious also but after his very short but intersiting work in Paris I ‘am not sure that he wants to be a musical director. Maybe he wants to do like Georges Pretre in the past : being guest in the most prestigious places. Anyway there’s no emergency for this marvelous orchestra.

    • MacroV says:

      What would be so absurd about Rattle working with both the BRSO and the LSO? Neither of them would likely take up that much of his time, and it’s an easy commute.

      I do wonder what “expensive” means for Rattle? Does he really command higher fees than other conductors of his stature? I have no idea.

      • Like Chailly I don’t imagine Rattle going back in Germany for another orchestra as musical director. And Rattle never worked in both orchestras at the same time.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Rattle has pretty much said he would only be music director at one orchestra at a time: I think he has said he can only really do one of the jobs properly at any one time as they take proper commitment. He has ruled out combining the LSO with another major role, and I don’t think he plans to give up the LSO anytime soon.

        Harding is possible. He really left Paris since he felt he couldn’t do justice to their French sound.

  • sam says:

    forget about it, rattle and harding are forever on everyone’s shortlist except their own, they are neither available nor interested, one is building his own hall, the other off flying a plane

  • Andreas B. says:

    The tone of the linked article is purely speculative.

    It talks in almost constant conjunctive and doesn’t even claim to have any sources in either orchestra or its management.

    At most it indicates the author’s personal preference.

    Nowhere does it mention ‘frontrunner’ or ‘likeliest successor’.

  • Becca says:

    Daniel Harding isn’t actually “taking a year off”, rather he is cutting back on his busy conducting schedule to focus primarily on the orchestras which he works regularly with. Nor is the flying a one year only endeavour, the goal is an ongoing 50:50 split between the two. Given that the typical actual flight hours for a commercial pilot is 50-80 hours per month, that is quite doable.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Simon Rattle…. really?
    Didn’t the Germans have enough of him in Berlin?

    • Axl says:

      What is wrong about Rattle?? All the time I just hear critic and critic and negative voices… For me that kind of message tells that Rattle is one of the best’s in planet

  • g.t. says:

    Why not Riccardo Chailly?

    • He’s very happy at La Scala and has the responsability to take care of the Luzern Festival after Abbado. I don’t imagine him coming back soon in Germany after the glory years at Lipzieg. And he’s not Gergiev with 260 concerts a year….

  • Jean says:

    Riccardo Muti ?

    • Tamino says:

      Didn‘t he state, for his ‚Götterdämmerung’ years he has business to do south of the Alps?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Muti is giving up his job in Chicago because he feels he is too old. (He has cancelled quite a lot through ill health while there). He really will not take on another major position.

  • We privatize your value says:

    What’s Ingo Metzmacher up to these days? Probably the best German conductor of his generation (pace, Thielemann). He should get that job!

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    One may as well forget about Daniel Harding who is only intending to be a part time conductor even in the long term. If Sir Simon Rattle ends up getting this job, he would be getting a super refined orchestra once again. Not that London Symphony Orchestra is bad, but this German orchestra is in a different class.

  • pageturner says:

    It always pays to have a native behind enemy lines, as it were, with Bre*it about to hit, that’s more essential than ever in any opportunity arising.

  • As Robert Braunmüller points out, the BRSO’s new home is already behind schedule and will likely not be completed until after 2026. Speed was supposed to be the advantage of the chosen site.

    • Tamino says:

      that will be a crucial point in who they can attract. who wants to be chief of an orchestra in an interim hall. 2026? That’s a while. Until when is Rattle’s current contract in London?
      Not so bad to take over a new orchestra with the perspective of inaugurating a new hall soon. Six years is a bit far out though…

  • Musician says:

    Iván Fischer.

  • Tamino says:

    My instinct regarding the chronically self conscious and wanting-to-be-world-famous-in-Bavaria Bavarians tells me, they have a primary shortlist that only has names, who are very big names and have been chief of one of the world’s very best orchestras before. Concertgebouw, Berlin Phil, that kind of orchestra…
    All the other names are on the second list only.

    The new concert hall in Munich is safer in its financing and will be finished sooner than London, me thinks…

  • Evan Tucker says:

    Rattle needs to stay in London. He will only tarnish his well-earned reputation by leaving or thinning out his commitment to the LSO. The British music public looks up to him as their leader, and even after or especially after Brexit, there is a chance to create a legacy that leaves the arts in Britain (or England…) better than he found them. If he goes to Munich, he will only encounter the same hostility he got in Berlin. If you want to carve a different identity from Mariss that eventually measures up, you have to have enough time to carve your own identity, and Rattle is already 65, he doesn’t have time. He will only be judged for how his legacy is lacking in comparison to his predecessor.

    Whether he deserves it or not, and he’s certainly talented enough even if the results so far are a bit lacking, Harding will get either the Concertgebouw or the BRSO. I suppose it’s marginally possible he could get both.

    It astonishes me that the Concertgebouw and the BRSO would consider Welser-Möst, who is good enough and doesn’t quite deserve his critical drubbing, but who has engendered so much controversy in so many high-profile positions, while ignoring so many great Austro-Germans one level down in eminence who are clearly ready for the big time: Markus Stenz, Manfred Honeck, even Thomas Hengelbrock.