Vienna Philharmonic: All players have tested negative

Vienna Philharmonic: All players have tested negative


norman lebrecht

June 05, 2020

They are rehearsing today with Daniel Barenboim.

After all players were tested negative in a COVID-Test prior to the rehearsal, we are able to play again! Here are some impressions of our rehearsal for the upcoming concerts with Maestro Daniel Barenboim this weekend. The program features Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Mozart’s piano concerto No. 27.



  • Amos says:

    The notion that everyone testing negative means that rehearsals can go on as before is simply idiotic. The lag period between infection and detectable virus is a few days and the moment after you are tested there is no assurance that you will remain virus-free. If the inserted photo is from rehearsal everyone is tempting fate.

    • Andy says:

      Sooner or later life must resume – even if slowly at first. Austria are almost virus free – daily new cases there are in the low single figures and have been for weeks – as low as 2 new cases some days. Given that the virus rate in the overall population is extremely low, and *all* of the players have tested negative, it seems sensible to proceed with caution. Not much in life is 100% risk free.

      • Amos says:

        June 4th 34 cases. Also, there is a reason they are playing in an empty hall.

      • Peter San Diego says:

        With all respect to Amos, I agree with Andy. The same test results in a U.S. orchestra at this time would be insufficient to resume with ordinary seating arrangements. I expect the same caution would be in order in the UK as well. Even in Austria, it would be prudent to retest orchestral musicians every week or so.

    • Jim says:

      It is a wise person who wrote this. I cannot believe how impatient people have become after so much death in the past 3 months. It’s not over. Not even close. And this type of behavior just will make the pandemic go longer.

      • Tamino says:

        How much death?
        Reality check: In Austria there is overall no excess mortality measurable. Yes a few hundred died with the virus in their body. Mostly people who the doctors say would have died very soon anyway. I’m not getting, what you mean. They are cautious, but you can’t lockdown a whole society, for a disease that does not even have effects beyond a flu wave.
        If you don’t believe me, please look at the official mortality statistics.
        Back to normal is normal. With well measured precaution.

      • Henry williams says:

        Barenboim is brave his age group is high risk

    • Saskia says:

      Absolutely correct..unfortunately. Even more alarming is the research showing the aerosol transmission.

    • Dr. Didlittle says:

      If you look at the stats, there are many places where the number of positive tests are going up or staying high. But deaths are not. For example, Iran. This is due to widespread testing. In my state, in the US, number of cases is staying high. But deaths, hospitalizations are plummeting. This is a trend over weeks so it isn’t lag time. Its time to come out of the cave.

  • Vision and Risk! says:

    Bravo to the Vienna Philharmonic! Finally, an orchestra willing to have vision and take some risk at the same time. They probably never did this during flu season so it’s great to know that the VPO is healthy and moving forward!

  • Bill says:

    Hopefully Barenboim also tested negative! Don’t want him breathing all over the professors if he is unwell…

  • Don Ciccio says:

    “I must have die Geige wieder”…

    (This is from Křenek’s ‘Jonny spielt auf’ in case anyone not familiar with this non-standard repertoire work wonders about the mix of German and English.)

  • mary says:

    1) Are they tested everyday and kept away from untested people (staff)? Rehearsal and performance are not a one day, isolated, affair.

    It’s not like the porn industry, you get tested on the day of, you shoot for the day (no pun intended), then you go home and not work with each other again, and if you do, you test again for that day.

    2) The funny thing about risk is that people can cheer others on for taking a risk without risking anything themselves. It’s easy to say “bravo Vienna” and get a free concert out of it, but if a player falls ill, just click on another website.

  • Elizabeth Lloyd-Davies says:

    We will meet again !

  • Rfhar Self says:

    Norman, re the first to comments here, I’d be careful about juxtaposing Amos and Andy in the present tate of affairs But meanwhile, let’s hear it: three cheers for the great Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Miko says:

    Meanwhile, back in blighty (highest death rate in Europe) it’s full steam ahead. No lifeboats (swab testing), think of the money (it’s safe!), give the DCMS what they want (“it’s safe to get back in the water, folks!”), scorn the science and sod the consequences. Like sailing on the Titanic with no lifeboats in shark infested water.
    Led by donkeys.

    • Robin Smith says:

      Highest Death rate in Europe = Belgium. You also need to be careful with the comparability and quality of the statistics.

  • KST says:

    No masks nor social distancing during the rehearsals = new COVID-19 cases!

  • Jack says:

    So much for the idea of having adventurous programs when concerts resume.

    The VPO is offering musical comfort food.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    The End of War concert, Jacques Chirac’s funeral and now the VPO’s first “Covid” concert.
    Barenboim certainly has his fingers in many pies.

    • SUGGERITORE says:

      He was supposed to be working with them now anyway, but with much bigger, and for now, impossible to do, repertoire – big Mahler Symphonies.

    • Henry williams says:

      As i wrote recently with his wealth he should retire to monaco they have very little
      Corona. Also the weather is good . My state pension is not enough to retire there.

      • Dr.Haim Alfandary , Israel says:

        You have your hand in Barenboim’s pocket ? Your pension , you poor man , reflects your earning ability !

    • Dr.Haim Alfandary , Israel says:

      Mr.Tarak, Maestro Barenboim has sweetened countless music lovers’ lives with his music .What is your contribution apart from a miserly pathetic note?
      Nulla !

  • Steve de Mena says:

    It wasn’t an empty-hall concert. There was about 100 in the audience, spaced out.

  • Laura Tedeschini Lalli says:

    do we have any statistics about infection after the event? THIS would be helpful in making decisions for other orchestras