Germans terminate Finnish conductor

Germans terminate Finnish conductor


norman lebrecht

February 03, 2020

The city of Konstanz has decided to drop chief conductor Ari Rasilainen at the end of his first term next year.

Rasilainen, 60, has made his career mostly in Germany. He is also professor in Würzburg.


  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    Well his website says he is “one of the most outstanding conductors of his generation” – so he should be OK !

  • It’s rare to see this kind of thing especially with a director from Finland.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything all that unusual here, if viewed as an example of what happens when an orchestra and a chief conductor don’t get on (anymore).
      – Rasilainen signaled his desire to extend his initial contract early on.
      – The musicians of the Südwestdeutsche Philhamonie voted and the result was a 50/50 split; 50% voted ‘No’ and 50% voted ‘Yes’ (it should be noted that the ‘Yes’ votes were a combination of votes in favour of extending the contract for another 5 years and votes in favour of only 2 additional years)
      – The general manager, who also has one vote, was left to break the tie and due to the lack of a “distinctly positive vote in favour of” Rasilainen, she cast her vote as ‘No’, as she felt a chief conductor should be selected/confirmed by a clear majority of musicians.
      More in this Südkurier article (in German):;art10399,10427207

      For the non-German speakers/readers (in brief)…
      The article mentions that Rasilainen now feels left out and ignored, because he wasn’t consulted after the vote, although he had sought a clarifying dialogue.
      The general manager says that Rasilainen never sought a dialogue with her or the orchestra committee directly, because the responsible orchestra manager who schedules these things would have let her know.
      The responsible orchestra manager says that, while he advised Rasilainen to seek a clarifying dialogue with the orchestra’s committee and the general manager, Rasilainen never asked him to directly schedule such a meeting, and so he had assumed that Rasilainen would arrange things himself.
      All of them were together on tour after the final vote outcome was known to all involved, but they all shift blame for not having used that opportunity to talk about the issues at hand. And round and round it goes….
      Further, the article has some local gossip to make the storm in the Konstanz-teacup complete…mainly, alleged unhappiness amongst a number of musicians that Rasilainen was never in town or around outside of the rehearsals and concerts he lead, Rasilainen complaining about frequently having had to work with an unusually high amount of substitutes filling out the orchestra’s ranks, alleging that a number of the orchestra’s proper members “ransomed* themselves off” for the concerts he conducted (*purposely found guest outside of the orchestra for concerts lead by him, while reimbursing the Südwestdeutsche Philhamonie for the cost of the substitute it hired to cover their absence).
      The general manager meanwhile claims that Rasilainen is wrong in accusing musicians of purposely snubbing him by pointing out that balancing the various duty schedules is a complex affair, some musicians being financially dependent on supplementing their salaries by taking on well-paying guest work and not wanting to deny some of the members the chance of being part of “prominent musical projects” ie. “if someone has the chance to go on tour with Simon Rattle”. She further claims that the refusal to renew the contract is not a reflection on Rasilainen’s artistic competencies but due to the fact that retirement is imminent for a sizeable portion of the orchestra and that it will be conducive to seek out new artistic direction with such an impending generational shift (giving younger members of the orchestra and new, incoming musicians a chance to be part of the decision, instead of being saddled with a chief conductor that was chosen in no small part by outgoing and retiring members).

    • Max Grimm says:

      …purposely found guest *work* outside of the orchestra…

  • Gustavo says:

    Above all, the provincial city of Konstanz needs a concert hall.

    The situation has been frustrating musicians and their audience for decades.

    Always tempting to take the train to nearby Tonhalle Zürich.

  • J E S Bradshaw says:

    The phrase ‘Germans terminate’ is an unfortunate one, imo.

  • Gustavo says:

    Konstanz is loosing an experienced conductor who is famous for recording all of the Atterberg symphonies.

    The relatively new managing director who had a difficult start herself has now messed everything up.

    Wonder which conductor will like to go to Konstanz under these circumstances?

    Suggest getting rid of the managing director, as well.