Not another beardless Finn…

Not another beardless Finn…


norman lebrecht

August 06, 2020

A boy called Tarmo Peltokoski will make his debut conducting the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in October.

He’s 19 and he has already got an agent.

He will conduct a new piece by Jukka Tiensuu, followed by a Beethoven concerto with Piotr Anderszewski.


  • HugoPreuss says:

    Oh, the horror. A (very) young conductor. BTW, I don’t know about England, but in Germany you call a 19 year old “boy” only if you want to insult him. Here’s a suggestion: why don’t you reserve judgment until *after* the concert. Than you say something about the quality of his conducting, and not just comment on his age.

    • Le Křenek du jour says:

      “ in Germany you call a 19 year old “boy” only if you want to insult him”

      Or if, like Schiller in regard to Don Carlos, you doubt his maturity.

      Exhibit A: “Der Knabe // Don Karl fängt an, mir fürchterlich zu werden.”
      ——Schiller, Don Karlos I, 6.
      With good reason, as it turns out. Although he was 22-23 at the time of the deeds.

      “Der *Knabe* Don Karl.”

      • Edgar Self says:

        Friedrich von Schiller’s fertile drama ‘Don Carlo” has another passage that the titular hero of Thomas Mann’s novella “Tonio Kroeger” uses to try to impress his prosaic young friend Hans Hansen: “Der Koenig? Der Koenig hat geweweint?”, incredulous that a king should weep.

        Another character in the story is Tonio’s literary friend Lisabetta Ivanovna, who receives his long confessional letter at the end. She is very like a slightly older young literary riend I knew growing up, who had some later success as a writer. Clavdia Chauchat is another exotic muse in “The Magic Mountain”. A coincidence?

        Goethe was another of Mann’s ifelong obsessions, and appears as the principal figure in his novel “Lotte in Weimar”, English title “The Beloved Returns”.

  • alan says:

    I bet even you didn’t have a beard when you were young, NL.

  • Gustavo says:

    Not another “Milchbart”…

    But didn’t we all start off without beards?

  • Gery says:

    i suppose you prefer dinosaurs like barenboim

    • alan says:

      That particular old fossil I never want to hear again either at the piano or on the podium

      • Gustavo says:

        Nor at VIP funerals.

      • Clovis says:

        Barenboim is the only musician I EVER saw actively and ostentatiously show his contempt for the audience, in my forty something years of concert going. And with a vengeance, a really really bad temper and disposition. This was in Rio de Janeiro way back in the eighties. Same reasons: late arrivals disturbing the music making (it was the Orchestre de Paris). He had just begun, he stopped, he sent furious looks to the parterre and he started again from scratch. “You oafs there should know better hu…”
        Then at the end there was this infallible and odious patron of the Teatro Municipal who always wanted to cheer and applaud before everyone else and always insisted on very explicit and showy terms to have some extra numbers. He’s known among Rio concert goers as “Maravilha” or “Sublime” (Mr Wonderful or Mr Sublime), for the words he invariably ejects in that magic moment when the music has not yet died away completely and the rest of us have not yet come back from wonderment. That’s exactly the moment this individual wants to hear his own voice. (I must admit to his good taste: it’s one of the best moments ever!). Well, when he was at it, begging Barenboim for more, more, pleeeeeaase, the maestro again convoked his hate look and this time peppered it with ugly arm and face gestures imitating this person, and then head-cocking and chin-throwing to signify his contempt for such inconvenience and bad manners. Never in my whole life seen any other artist behave like that on a stage

    • Novagerio says:

      Gery: Universal musicians with a life time experience and insight like the one you shamelessly call “a dinosaur” do in fact make a difference in front of any orchestra, good or less good.
      A junior conductor will at most get a free ride by a great orchestra. And 19 years is, sorry to say, being a “baby conductor” who should cut his teeth a few years in the provinces, and try to make a difference, or work next to a senior mentor, not conduct the best orchestras on the very first gig, only cos he/she has a fancy agency.
      Of course I wish the young man all luck, after all, you can fool the listener but never the orchestra.

  • annnon says:

    Be afraid, be very afraid, of the day when orchestras are led by young men in beards.

  • Alexander Hall says:

    I think you can raise the obvious question whether such a small country is on the face of it likely to produce even greater conducting talent than that emanating from much larger countries. There is an obvious parallel with East Germany, which walked off with a disproportionately high number of medals and titles in international sporting events throughout the second half of the 20th century. We now know this was not because of a superior talent nurtured on the pure air of Marxist-Leninism. I have absolutely nothing against Finns but the notion that they have somehow unlocked the key to quality itself on the podium is completely absurd. Are their young men and women better by far than similar music graduates from Russia, the US, China, Japan and Germany, just to name a string of obvious countries? No, I don’t think so.

  • fred says:

    that is indeed a nasty comment, may (and i hope so) the ‘boy’ is immensely talented and he may become or is the new guido cantelli, so give him a break and a chance

  • KANANPOIKA says:

    Another phenomenally stupid PR photo….

  • Bostin'Symph says:

    Jacob Collier claimed he was influenced by the music he experienced whilst in his mother’s womb. The training starts early these days, apparently 😉

    I’d be prepared to give the guy a chance. The proof will be in the pudding: hopefully a Golden Oppulence Sundae rather than a sticky toffee!

  • Elvira says:

    I wonder what makes a great conductor?
    How big is the “slice “ called experience /age, etc
    I am very curious to read different opinions

    • Harrumphrey says:

      About one in a thousand conductors is actually a musician. The rest are completely worthless overpaid parasites who emote for the audience so that all the tone-deaf people sitting there will know how they’re supposed to respond. Conducting is for the most part a form of sign-language, for the audience’s benefit, not the orchestra’s.

  • In the USA, he is not old enough to buy alcohol.

    • annnon says:

      But old enough to buy a gun.

    • V. Lind says:

      Another country where it’s bad form to call any post-pubescent male “boy.”

      Something ageist here. When Thomas Chatterton was his age he had been dead for two years. (Come to think of it, he was known as “The Marvellous Boy,” courtesy originally of Wordsworth, the “old sheep,” courtesy of Rumpole).

      Got something against prodigies? That cuts into major parts of the canon, let alone the podium.

      • Edgar Self says:

        I thought of Thomas Chatterton, though not of Wordsworth’s ovine sobriquet. Ruggiero Leoncavallo wrote an opera “Chatterton” and recorded it in 1908, conducting La Scala singers. Ward Marston, blind sound engineer, worked miracles in restoring it to listenability. paired with “Pagliacci”ftom 1909, also conducted by its composer.

        There is the famous painting of Chatterton, starved or rozen to death in his unheated garret bed, piteous. The owners of the house had asked him to supper; he declined whether from pride or shame is unclear.

  • Novagerio says:

    As a tribute to all conductor talents from Finland, let me point out that Professor Jorma Panula will turn 90 next Monday!

  • Dave says:

    I see he studies with Oramo.

    He’ll be walking into a job at the BBC next.

  • Jay says:

    From his piano work he seems to have no troubles
    that talent cannot cure………

  • David Boxwell says:

    Boy Toscanini was 19 when he conducted AIDA for the first time. The whole opera. From memory. He was just a flash in the pan, though.

  • MM says:

    He’s a good kid, smart, great pianist, inquisitive and i’m sure he will make a fine conductor. And I believe that Anderszewski will be playing and conducting the Beethoven 1.

  • Edgar Self says:

    “Conducting is the last bastion of quackery outside the medical profession.” — Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich, who saw no surge in engagements after saying it. .

    toscanini is a good example. He at least had a respectable moustache. And some talent. He even played the cello and joked with friends. There is a photograph as proof of this.

    Wilhelm Furtwaengler is another who led his first concert at 19. sporting no beard but with scragly sideburns. His father, archaeologist Adolf urtwaengler, paid for it. The program was Bruckner Ninth and his own “Te Deum”. He later apprenticed under Hans Pfitzner, Siegmund von Hausegger, and others in the provinces. In his mid-to-late thirties he succeeded Artur Nikisch in Leipzig and Berlin, adding Vienna. There were Generalmusikdirektors of Euroe before Karajan!