Berlin Philharmonic: How we will resume

Berlin Philharmonic: How we will resume


norman lebrecht

May 27, 2020

From an interview with Andrea Zietzschmann in the Financial Times:

“There are still many concerns,” says Andrea Zietzschmann, general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker. “We are looking at a September or October start and will have to be very flexible about taking decisions at short notice. Scientists have stipulated spacing within the orchestra of 1.5 metres between the strings, and two metres between the wind, which means 32-37 players, though the number might rise later to 50 or 60. In the audience, we can only have 400 maximum in the main hall, which is an [unsustainable] situation.”

“In Berlin, there was a lot of competition before,” says Zietzschmann, “but now we stand together and fight together. There is no guarantee the deficit will be cleared for us, but we will apply for special funding when the time is ready, and those who are responsible know how our budget looks and want to support us. We are in a better position [than in countries with less public funding]. At least, we know for sure we will have a future life.”

Read more here.



  • Brian viner says:

    How can it pay with such a small audience

    • Player says:

      I don’t know what the situation is in G.B., Brian. Ms. Zietzschmann says they are in a better position than countries with less public funding. “At least, we know for sure we will have a future life.” They’re fortunate. In the U.S., public funding for culture is minimal. There is no such optimism or certainty among arts organizations here. Not only are we less prepared to resume concerts because of our failed response to the virus, this pandemic has laid bare all of the other weaknesses and inequities in our society.

    • Pierre says:

      The power of subsidies?

    • Ron Swanson says:

      Because if do not play music the question from the state becomes why are we paying you. The German government has committed to spending 750 billion euros. That money is going to have be paid back at some point.

      • Brettermeier says:

        “That money is going to have be paid back at some point.”

        Sure. But who says it’s them paying it back?

    • Andy says:

      It won’t, presumably. But as the government required everything (fair enough) to close then presumably they will ensure that cultural institutions such as the Berlin Philharmonic will be protected. At the moment the best that they can do really do is try to bring things back gradually, which is surely better than *nothing*. It’s great that they’re trying to do what they can, partly as a signal that they will *be back*. and partly because culture and great art is important in difficult times.

      • Ron Swanson says:

        The German government may not be able to. I hope it will be a V shaped recession but the bond markets are pricing a depression. In the case of a depression any sane government will try protect public services over music.

        The other reason is the German government is demanding that southern European countries slash public spending. Saving the Berlin Phil while demanding the Italians cut pensions is not the smartest policy.

        • Publicly funded arts institutions pay back the government through the services they provide. In Germany, the service of providing classical music is highly valued.

          • Ron Swanson says:

            Meanwhile in the real world do you cut pensions or arts funding. Guess which policy gets you elected.

  • Rod says:

    More empty talk. Bottom line, they can neither admit the audience nor play the music for which the hall was designed. And that bit about standing together – ha! There’s far more competition now, and for far less. It’s the same sort of positivity pablum you see on Juilliard’s Instagram feed. #juilliardthrives – yeah, without jobs?

  • Bill Ecker says:

    I spoke with client of mine last week, a long time member of one of the big four U.S. orchestras. He said “As much as we want to perform, we sit closely together and no one wants that right now.” Obviously this goes beyond the audience situation and I have to imagine the same sentiment courses throughout the great orchestras of the world.

  • Bruce says:

    Since the article is behind a paywall, can anyone explain why the word “unsustainable” is in brackets? The brackets imply that she did not say the word, but its presence changes the meaning of the sentence.

    It’s like quoting Trump as saying “I am [not] a very stable genius.”

  • annnon says:

    “At least, we know for sure we will have a future life.”

    Nothing is for sure.

    1) The Berliner Philharmonic was founded in 1882. That’s 138 years. Empires have come and gone in less time than that. The Third Reich lasted 12 years.

    2) The Berliner Philharmonic was founded by 54 musicians, so even if it has an assured future, what will it look like? Which of the co-concertmasters to get rid of? Which of the co-principal flutes and clarinets?

    3) Not if you serve only 400 people per performance. Even the generous, culture minded German tax payer will balk at subsidizing the pleasure of 400 people.