Boy conductor gets renewal before he even starts

Boy conductor gets renewal before he even starts


norman lebrecht

May 15, 2020

The teenage-looking Klaus Mäkelä received a contracts renewal from the Oslo Philharmonic, even though he does not even start as Chief Conductor and Artistic Adviser until August (and there are no concerts likely until some months last that).

Mäkelä, who is 24, now has a contract that takes him into his 30s.

He said: ‘This commitment is of course hugely exciting for me and I cannot wait to begin my tenure with an orchestra I deeply love and respect. For a conductor there is nothing more important than a musical home where one can work extensively and where you feel that you breathe together with the musicians. The paradox of being a musician is that what we enjoy the most is the fact that we can always be better in the next concert and I am very happy to have found an orchestra like the Oslo Philharmonic which shares the same philosophy. Of course in this situation, being able to commit to the orchestra for the next seven years brings us both the opportunity to really grow together and experiment on a great variety of different styles of music.’



  • Trevor Henry says:

    Please don’t call him a boy conductor. That’s exceptionally patronising and rude.

    • Jeff says:

      I don’t understand why this has an abnormal amount of dislikes.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      I completely agree. Thomas Mann published his “Buddenbrooks” at the age of 25. I don’t think that anyone called him a “boy writer” or some other inane insult. Mozart wrote “Idomeneo” at age 24. A boy composer? ABsurd and insulting.

  • Burt says:


    However, Congratulations to HarrisonParrott to have found the best “milk cow orchestra” in Europa

  • Achman says:


  • Leo Doherty says:

    I’m not surprised there’s going to be a shortage of over 50s after this virus.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      What a silly and alarmist comment. Even among the over 50s, very few people in the grand scheme of things are succumbing to the virus.

      The virus is mildly dangerous, lets not blow things out of proportion.

  • LondonPianist says:

    Boy conductor? He’s 24. How about “conductor”?

    • DonGesualdo says:

      Right! He isn’t a boy conductor. The American conductor Thomas Schippers was already conducting Menotti’s “The Consul” at age twenty and went on to conduct, among many others, the NY Phil at age twenty-two.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    From the headline I was expecting a Joey Alfidi or Pierino Gamba, if not an equivalent to Loren Maazel circa 1941. “Boyish-looking” would have been the correct (if still rather irrelevant) phrase.

  • Symphony musician says:

    Boy conductor? OK boomer!
    I’m somewhere between the extremes of age and I have actually played for this guy.
    Admittedly I have been exposed to some Wunderkind conductors who were hyped far beyond their ability, although inexplicably most of them have had steep upwards career trajectories. Even with those people it would have been gratuitous, insulting and untrue to describe them as boys.
    Mäkelä, in contrast, has a natural personal authority and charisma well in advance of his actual age and, wonder of wonders, he can conduct, he has good ears, he knows how to work with professionals, and he has something to say musically. Some conductors in their 30s are less grown-up than him.
    Norman, please refrain from cheap insults like this.

    • Edgar says:

      Fully agree, especially with your last sentence.

      If anyone is the “boy” here, it’s most certainly not this outstanding artist – who is gravely misjudged and belittled because of his physical appearance, with no regard whatsoever to his character as the wonderful human being and musician as which you have experienced him.

      “Truth gets beaten like a dog, whilst the lapdog lies beside the fireplace and is allowed to stink” (paraphrased after The Fool, in “King Lear”).

  • JH says:

    Agree with many of the above comments. It’s insulting. You make no mention of KM’s frankly astounding talent, musicality, presence, assuredness. Instead focusing, once again, on appearances. Also, he has already been working and doing many projects in Oslo, so it’s not as you make it sound – as though he hadn’t shown his face there! They know him well and absolutely have right and reason to extend his contract. Well deserved at that!

  • He looks suitably adult in the video. Better yet, he looks like he knows what he is doing.

    I’ve played under people who have it and people who don’t. If they don’t have it, they don’t have it.

    But I am surprised both he and the orchestra would commit to seven years. Who can know what will come up in that time?

  • Julien says:

    He is a top musician and conductor. For me the best conductor under 35 with Lahav Shani. I saw him twice in Paris with Orchestre de Paris and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He made both times huge impression on musicians and audience. Harrison Parrott has a lot of overrated young conductors but for sure he is not. Good choice for him and Oslo. Best wedding since Sokhiev/Toulouse in 2005 and Shani/Rotterdam in 2016.

  • wasteland says:

    It says something about classical music that conductors have to be masters of bourgeois mannerisms and platitudes.

  • Real man says:

    They dressed him up to look like a grown man!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Thanks, David Nelson, for Pierino Gamba, whom I remember conducting in short pants standing on a box. I’d forgotten Joey Alfidi, but not Roberto Benzi or Loren Maazel, who with Byron Janis, both 14, appeared and perhaps debuted together. Later Janis performed in one of Vladimir Horowitz’s old formal suits, probably not the Edwardian cutaway with striped trousers. and braces.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Thank you, Hugo Preuss, for Thomas Mann and “Buddenbrooks” in 1900 at age 25. In 1929 he won the Nobel Prize for it, not for “Die Zauberberg” of 1924, but still young for a laureate. Mann wrote at the time, “One realised it lay inevitably in one’s path.”
    Mann was old enough at 25 to reject his publisher’s request to shorten “Buddenbrooks”, which appeared intact in two volumes.

    Mann’s second novel, “Royal Highness — Koenigliche Hoheit” daringly has a royal Klaus Heinrich — K.H. in the title –swith a withered arm like Kaiser Wilhelm II, a kindly ewish doctor, and a American -Jewish tycoon whose daughter marries K. H. nd saves the Grand Duchy with her father’s money. Oh, and there is a dog, just like Bashan.

    There are American characters, Wendell Kretschmar and the Moravians in “Doktor Faustus” and Ken (?) in his late novel “Die Betrogene”, the betrayed woman, English title “The Black Swan”.

    “His short-story “The Infant Prodigy — Das Wunderkind,” treats of the boy-artist. (I hope you agree with Mann that “Only the exhaustive is truly interesting.”