Orchestras are going to hire conductors local, young and cheap

Orchestras are going to hire conductors local, young and cheap


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2020

The German National Theater in Weimar has promoted Dominik Beykirch to chief conductor from September.

He replaces Kirill Karabits, who was released after one term.

Beykirch is German and 29 years old. He has been working in Weimar as second conductor since 2015.

This may be a sign of our times. Orchestras are going to hire conductors local, young and cheap.


photo: Facebook


  • Fiddlist says:

    Sometimes (oftentimes!) no conductor is better than young and cheap. Chamber musicianship, anyone?

  • Cheaper but older collegue says:

    Actually a good decision, as he is very talented. I worked with him six years ago and he knows what he is doing. Good luck, Dominik!

  • Jeff says:

    What is this word, orchestra, that you speak of?………

    • FrauGeigerin says:

      It is the orchestra of nothing less than a theatre that was once directed by Goethe. Franz Liszt served as Hofkapellmeister from 1848 to 1858, Johann Nepomuk Hummel was Kapellmeister, Richard Strauss served as second Kapellmeister from 1889 to 1894, the orchestra that premiered Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’, Humperdicks ‘H & G’, Strauss ‘Gutram’ as well as the symphonic poems ‘Don Juan’, Mcbeth, and ‘Tod und Verklärung’. It is an A orchestra in the German system (also in this Category are the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Gewandhaus…). It is mostly an opera-pit orchestra but as an opera orchestra it is a top orchestra.

  • Bruce says:

    That’s how conductors used to get their start, back in the much-lamented good old days, right? Learn the repertoire, learn the craft, etc. etc.? So this might be a step (backward) in the right direction.

    • FrauGeigerin says:

      It is indeed a step in the right direction, but I doubt that at 29 this conductor is ready for such a major role… I think it would be wiser for this young conductor to stay as 1. Kapellmeister for a further 6 years. Conducting and leading a group of professional musicians in a meaningful way requires a lot of musical and life experience…much more so than what one can get in 29 years! Aren’t there around more experienced and mature conductors for the position?

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Some good may come of this trend (if in fact it does transpire).

    New talents will be given podium experience and some will emerge as being worthy.

    Payrolls will be reduced, in some cases, quite dramatically.

    Music directors may actually spend time in the cities where they conduct and become part of the fabric of everyday life rather than jet setting around.

    I, for one, look forward to the New Normal.

  • V.Lind says:

    Any reason for Karabits’ departure? If you covered it, I missed it.

    • Browne says:

      Or Lano’s departure also. Something smells a little fishy in Weimar that so many are leaving so abrubtly.

    • Sixtus says:

      Since we are unlikely to see any more, I recommend the two Liszt recordings he made with Weimar. Some unusual repertory, great sound and available via Apple Music, Amazon Music and Spotify.

  • annnon says:

    The Orchestre de Paris,, in hiring Klaus Makela, seems to have gone 2 out of 3: young and cheap. But not local.

    As long as OP was going this route, it should’ve supported local talent, to identify and develop the next generation of French conductors for the international stage.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Perhaps we can echo the old days when conductors and artists were given a break. Less glitz, and focus on substance, and building careers. Affordability and compassion may well be returning to this business when the business returns at the right time.

    • V.Lind says:

      I always enjoy your optimism!

      The likelihood of this is right up there with pols recognising that one of the by-products of lockdown has been re-establishment of wildlife, cleaner air (in some places), other environmental benefits and opting for a green recovery.

      Theatres, whether for dramatic arts of musical, are going to be torn between the need to offer very inexpensive seats to tempt people back through their doors and the urge to start economic recovery by raising pries sky-high and depending upon the elites coming back first. And, they will be between a rock and a hard place. Social distancing measures will be in place for a good while after theatres reopen, and audience concerns will make people wary of attending at all, except in the red states, where cultural attendance is probably the lowest per capita in the US. They don’t believe in the science anyway and think nothing should ever have been closed,

  • Bill Ecker says:

    This is exactly how the German system worked prior to World War II in the provincial theaters. William Steinberg is my favorite example, but there were endless conductors who were given chief conductorships early and then rose to the bigger houses. It allows for a feeder and development system within the country. The feeder system worked in France and Belgium as well. However, it has rarely been used in the US, or Britain where successful conductors were sent out of the country before they were brought back.

  • Nadine Weissmann says:

    For one thing, Mr. Beykirch is one of the most promising talents on the podium, especially where opera is concerned. Furthermore, his position, after recently being 1st coordinated Kapellmeister alongside Stefan Lano, is a new position of Chief Conductor of Music Theater, not to be confused with a GMD (General Music Director) position which includes being head of the Weimar Staatskapelle. The theater along with the orchestra want to take some time in finding a new GMD, and giving Mr. Beykirch a chance to head the opera for a few seasons where he has proven himself in various styles seems pretty smart. Mr. Karabits’ term there produced some fruitful and prize-winning recordings, but his career took off quite a bit, while the requirements of being a GMD were too limiting at that point.

  • fflambeau says:

    Nothing new there (unless the orchestra is old, highly regarded and well endowed).

    And is it bad? Young people need a chance to develop.

  • Kenneth Andersen QC says:

    Love your bringing this up NL.

    Tired of this treatment. It’s recently been mentioned here in a thoughtful article I enjoyed reading. Where the money is going is unknown.