Where next for Mirga?

Where next for Mirga?


norman lebrecht

January 22, 2021

The resignation of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in mid-2022 will bring three job offers instantly to her inbox.

The London Symphony Orchestra, who need to replace Simon Rattle in 2023 if not sooner, loved working with her last month and will be first in with an offer, which she would sensibly refuse if her priotity is, as she says, to focus more on personal and musical matters. The LSO requires lots of touring, which is not compatible with raising a young family.

The New York Philharmonic will be on the phone the moment it wakes up today. Its president Deborah Borda worked with Mirga at the LA Phil and greatly admires her. New York needs to move on from its undistinguished Jaap Van Zweden era and a young woman at the helm would be a clear signal of renewal. Salary negotiations will start at $2 million. She could hold out for $3m – if she wants it.

The LA Phil are looking beyond Gustavo Dudamel, who now lives in Spain is angling for a European post. Mirga likes LA, LA likes Mirga. It could be a fit.

Closer to home, there are three or four German and French orchestras who will come bearing gifts.

Let’s see.



  • Will Duffay says:

    She has stated that Brexit is a problem for somebody based in mainland Europe, so she won’t want the LSO. The same will be a problem for any international conductor, I assume. The UK’s horizons diminish further.

  • Roman says:

    I do really hope she doesn’t accept an offer from LSO. Her caliber is not even close to Sir Simon Rattle. It would be a shame if she takes his place.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    In the other blogpost it was argued that Mirga stepped down from Birmingham because of the commute. If so, why would she take a job in the USA?

  • BP says:

    Notwithstanding Norman’s breathless enthusiasm, what is the evidence for her being up to take on some of the biggest jobs in the industry?

    • Herr Doktor says:

      Excellent point. And if I were Mirga, I’d want a nice job somewhere not so high profile so I could continue to learn, grow, and become familiar with much of the repertory she’s never touched before. To do that in a place like NYC or LA would be incredibly high-risk and probably a very unwise move. If she’s planning to live in Austria, why not something like in Switzerland or in a place like Graz assuming a position opens up? Too much too soon will do her no favors. Munich Philharmonic perhaps? (how much longer will the grossly overrated Gergiev be tolerated there)

      • Anthony Sayer says:

        She doesn’t need that type of protection. She ticks enough boxes to walk on water for the next forty years in the eyes of those who matter.

      • Ben Hewitt says:

        I’ve just been listening to Gergiev’s Bruckner 6th with the Munich Philharmonic. It’s pretty good despite him being so overrated in your view. I wonder why.

        • Herr Doktor says:

          I haven’t heard Gergiev’s Bruckner 6 myself. But a number of friends have heard the cycle, and to a person they think it’s indistinct at best and terrible at worst. I can enjoy Gergiev’s music-making in some (but not all) Russian music. But when he ventures into Germanic terrain, all bets are off in my experience. Overall, I don’t think he’s that good in the German romantic music that I enoy most. And in my opinion, he’s not even 1/2 the conductor that the late Gennady Rozhdestvensky was, who in my experience was WONDERFUL.

          • pjl says:

            also a terrible Mahler conductor; but he really does understand the greatness of Prokofiev and I admire his championing of this composer. I was at what might have been his first UK concert in 1989 in Manchester and Scriabin seemed to suit him..

      • Fernandel says:

        If Gergiev is grossly overrated – I find him, if anything, stylistically erratic – I dread to assess Mirga.

  • Al says:

    Much more importantly what’s next for the CBSO?

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      Unless it gets a new “charismatic” musical director, the CBSO risks returning to its former status of a provincial orchestra.

      • MacroV says:

        They’ve had pretty good luck: Fremaux, Rattle, Oramo, Nelsons, Mirga. Few orchestras have as impressive a record.

        And these days I assume they’re getting the best British players; don’t know how the pay compares to the LSO but Birmingham is probably a lot less expensive than London and it’s a stable job.

        • Anon9 says:

          Why not Louis, Simon, Sakari, Andris, Mirga? I do hope it is because her surname is hard to spell, not because she is a woman.

      • Alexander Platt says:

        ….Here’s an idea: why don’t they hire a really great BRITISH conductor; a really talented young-ish individual, who’ll stay a long time and do really great work.

    • msc says:

      I don’t know if he wants it, but I’d really like to see Brabbins.

    • Gustavo says:


      • FrankUSA says:

        Gatti does seem to be rehabilitated. I believe he will be conducting the Berlin Phil this week. Not sure if he wants to go back into the U.K. He already was music director of the RPO. He may still need more rehabilitation/acceptance.

    • Derek H says:

      Very good point.

      Critical to make the right decisions to keep their audience and add to it, when circumstances permit. It is important to look outwards, not think small or too provincial, despite the financial challenges.

    • V.Lind says:

      I agree: that was my first thought. Mirga will get something — she ticks one of the right boxes, and she is no slouch, though I too wonder if NY and LA might be an overreach at this stage. But Rattle, and, to be fair Mirga, have made CBSO an orchestra of considerable stature, and they need someone who will take THEM forward.

      Someone English whose own contract may come up for renewal then and who might just fill the bill, and whose repertoire might suit: Alexander Shelley.

    • J says:

      The CBSO has a real knack for choosing excellent younger conductors who are relatively little known at the time of appointment, but who quickly develop a top-tier career: Rattle, Oramo, Nelsons, Mirga…

  • Gustavo says:

    Concertgebouw in 2024?

    Or did I miss something?

    Enough time for a fruitful Salzburg-sabbatical.


  • sam says:

    “Salary negotiations will start at $2 million. She could hold out for $3m”

    Are you high? Pass that magic weed around. If you were her agent, she’d not make a single deal.

    She’s not going to get more than $1 million. Not even in the best of times, certainly not post-Covid.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      “Salary negotiations will start at $2 million. She could hold out for $3m”

      Conductors with salaries at that range are routinely criticized for greed by Norman Lebrecht. Why should Mirga be the exception?

  • MacroV says:

    I’m not his biggest fan, but Jaap isn’t leaving the NY Phil anytime soon. He just got there, for crying out loud. I would imagine at this point a home in Central Europe and doing mostly gigs within a several-hour drive, flight, or train ride will be the way to go.

  • Gustavo says:

    Andris -> LSO
    Mirga -> Leipzig

  • RW2013 says:

    Should be retained in the provinces of the yUK.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    “Salary negotiations will start at $2 million. She could hold out for $3m – if she wants it.”

    And some say that Classical Music is in crisis. Maybe this might give a clue as to why.

    • JussiB says:

      Top classical musicians and administrators are actually UNDER-paid compared to pro athletes and Hollywood execs/entertainers. Deborah Borda’s $1.5m LA Phil was peanuts.

    • Zelda Macnamara says:

      I had no idea that conductors could earn that much money and I don’t think it’s justifiable in any way. If she’s been earning that for the last few years, she can afford to take a couple of years out to look around.

  • Keith Wellings says:

    Sad news for CBSO supporters. The problem with a young rising star is that they soon get itchy feet and want to move on.Maybe we were spoilt by having Sir Simon for 18 years.
    At a time of real crisis for the Arts the future looks bleak anywhere at present.

  • Sisko24 says:

    As a long-time NY Phil subscriber, I’d like to hear her (Ms. Grazinyte-Tyla) in a long series of guest conducted concerts, particularly before asking her to follow Jaap. One unwritten NY Phil rule is to hear the possible next music director conduct Mahler. Every prospective music director has had to surmount that hurdle in order to make it to final consideration. One person I’m still holding out hope for is Ms. Malkki. Whenever I’ve heard her conduct the NYPhil, she’s been heads above the rest. She could be a top-flight next music director for the NY Phil.

  • NINY27 says:

    There is absolutely no way that Jaap is leaving NY – unless he gets Concertgebouw, but by that point, he would have made his mark on NY and overseen the renovation of David Geffen Hall. (I also heard he is being eyed as a successor to Muti in Chicago – CSO really likes him.) While I’m not sure how NY Phil thinks of Mirga, I got the impression that the Met Opera Orchestra was “eh” on her when she conducted them at Carnegie in 2018.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Why would the N.Y. Phil. want to move on from van Zweden at this point. David Geffen Hall will – hopefully – sound better, and van Zweden has yet to program the kind of works he really excels at: Bruckner, Mahler, Wagner, R. Strauss, etc. And speaking for myself, I think his “Rite of Spring” recording with New York is a really good one – a keeper.

  • Manuela Hoelterhoff says:

    In the post-Covid days the talent will be local and the venues will be smaller along with the fees. A possible $3 million dollar stipend to a Baltic baton for showing up maybe four months with the New York Phil is inconceivable. Right now, thanks to a clueless board and inept management, the orchestra is staggering through a fourth renovation with hundreds of millions yet to be raised. Out of touch compensation will send smaller donors to chamber groups and animal shelters.

  • JussiB says:

    That’s pretty good going from $70k LA Phil assistant conductor to $3m NY Phil. Mirga is going places.

  • LA Phan says:

    Dear God, please not LA. I don’t know where you heard the rumors of LA liking her (maybe management does? But surely not the musicians or the audience) but you should check your source again. I heard a Mahler 5 a few years back that was bizarre. The adagio was conducted with stiff jabbing motions from the baton, the pacing of the whole symphony was…welll…bizarre. Her Beethoven was, well, again bizarre. I guess if all the Philharmonic plans to do is Berg and Knussen maybe it would work? LA could use someone with some real chops, like Rattle.

    • JussiB says:

      I concur. In my 20 years of attending LA Phil Mirga was one of the more flashy but less insightful figures on the podium. Reminds me of someone who talks a lot but has little to say.

  • Anton Bruckner says:

    It is time for CBSO to make a preference for creativity and musical depth over PR hype. Most clearly Volkov is the right choice.

    • Derek H says:

      Now the CBSO will consider all their options but it is nice to see Volkov mentioned. He has been very good whenever I have seen him.

      That included a quality performance of Bruckner Symphony 5 – one of yours Anton 🙂

  • Nick2 says:

    All this pie in the sky speculation. Didn’t anyone read her resignation letter? She makes clear she wants away from the business and admin side of conducting. Does anyone seriously believe this points to a US orchestra? With her young family, Brexit surely rules out much travel outside the EU.

  • Stephen Diviani says:

    Sad news for Birmingham but, I hope, good news for London. A name that doesn’t get mentioned for the LSO job is Edward Gardner, who I think would be superb.

    • msc says:

      I’m sure someone will have beaten me to this, but Gardner is the principal conductor designate for the LPO.

      • Stephen Diviani says:

        Apologies, I learned that after posting my comment and one can’t amend a comment after it’s posted. It doesn’t change my view that Gardner is a star, hugely undervalued here in the UK.

  • Amos says:

    I realize that it’s difficult to keep track of time in the age of COVID but didn’t M G-T release a statement in the last year or so indicating that she was cancelling all guest appearances to focus on the CBSO? IMO the notion of Simon Rattle as the elder statesman and M G-T the young hopeful merely reinforces how far the position of Music Director has fallen.

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    Mirga is a great loss for the CBSO.
    Having heard conduct Brahms 2 & 3, I would say she wis an excellent conductor. I have never been big on Brahms (not quite a Benjamin Britten though, who hated his music), but she has persuaded me to look at his symphonies afresh.
    Her conducting Ligeti’s Concert Românesc at one of these concerts was a real joy as well.

  • It’s really pathetic,conductors parading themselves like a street commodity.I think the Chinese use to call it ‘The cult of personnality’.

  • FrankUSA says:

    IF we are to take Mirga’s word at face value,all of the options listed NL would be completely opposite of her intentions per her resignation letter. IMHO,her business agent should be booking as many guest conductor concerts as possible. She really needs to experience as many orchestras as possible and to find the way to work with disparate orchestra. Possible 7 years down the road she could look at another permanent position IF WE ARE TO TAKE HER AT HER WORD.

  • FrankUSA says:

    How about Jonathan Nott for LSO. I think he is working in Japan and not knowing how long. Plenty of experience and he may really like to settle down in the U.K. for some extended number of years. Certainly the LSO would be the high water mark of his career.

  • fflambeau says:

    A good possible replacement for her in Birmingham: Kenneth Woods. He’s an American, so Brexit might be a problem. But he’s done well in roughly the same geographic area, has an English wife, is highly regarded and innovative. His recordings have been well regarded. He also seems to like living in the U.K.

  • ANDREW FROST says:

    All this speculation now seems very out-of-date. In the ensuing years the CBSO has lost much of its local audience through inept programming, woeful marketing and publicity, and performs in a hall that is run by an organisation, BMusic, which has little regard for (or understanding of) classical music. I give it 5 years at most..