Could this be the next Karajan?

Could this be the next Karajan?


norman lebrecht

March 11, 2021

Any time a young man gets picked as music director in Ulm, they remember that this was Herbert von Karajan’s first rung on the career ladder, back in 1933 when he was jujst 25.

The new guy is Felix Bender, a German aged 35.

He was picked from a field of 120 candidates, only three of them women.



  • Petros Linardos says:

    We can only wish well Mr. Bender.

    Philippe Jordan was GMD at Ulm 1994-1998. Did any other Ulm GMD go on to achieve world fame?

  • John Borstlap says:

    It’s the mountains.

  • Franz1975 says:

    Here is the answer: no, he isn’t.

    • Rogerio says:

      Besides that, I can just about guarantee that he will not be the next Floyd Mayweather.
      That gentle smile denotes an absence of killer instinct.
      Not to mention that the next Floyd Mayweather will probably be a woman.
      This man’s options are sure getting slimmer.

    • John Borstlap says:

      What could we do without you?

  • Jack says:

    How many women would you have liked to have applied?

  • IP says:

    Hopefully not. There are worse things that can happen of course (a new Lang Lang. . . ), but one would still rather hope for a new Rosbaud, a new Kempe. . . something in that line.

    • Sam says:

      I couldn’t agree more! A new Rosbaud, this time with the Berlin Philharmonic.

      It’s incredible how much beauty he could create despite his orchestra and some bad recording quality. If I dislike or don’t understand a composer, and if Rosbaud has recorded him, I immediately seek those recordings to give the composer a fair shake.

  • Fred Furtwangler says:

    Please not – one Karajan per century is more than enough.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      Since Karajan died in 1989 and since we are – in case you have not noticed – in a new century, then, according to your own logic, there should be ample room for a new Karajan 😉

  • Hans-Dieter Glaubke says:

    A rather naive anticipation, at this time. Again, a reference about the “plight” of women conductors, not even being subtlety identified as a suffering lot. The paucity of their presence needs examination, before suggestive innuendos are given.

  • MusicBear88 says:

    I don’t want another Herbert von Karajan, another Franco Corelli, another Vladimir Horowitz. I want somebody who has great technique and musical sense and can be themselves as much as those gentlemen were.

  • Francesco says:

    Couldn’t care less how many female, people of color or any gender or sexual orientation candidates there were. Literally, couldn’t care less if you paid me.
    All of this nonsense has made only one thing happen: I guarantee you, I will never program a piece by a female composer or God forbid perform some mediocre (at best) nonsense that claims it is inspired by the hard life a black muslim-jewish transexual from Brooklyn has had after his/hers/zers meth-addicted father and mother died and the ‘composer’ was raised by their grandparents in this ruthless white-privileged world. Yawn.

    • MDR says:

      Well, thank the Lord none of us will ever have to attend one of your concerts, whoever you are.

      • Francesco says:

        Well, whoever you are, ‘the Lord’ is a figment of your imagination and I’m not worried at all about attendance of my concerts. Haven’t ever had a difficult time selling tickets to my performances. That’s mostly because people like great music and I like performing it. ‍♂️
        Nobody really cares about how hetero and white Bach was or did he think homosexuality is a sin. Nobody. None of that matters. Only the music matters. Online and on University campuses idiots do get loud about this cancel revolution of theirs. But in reality, it’s a storm in a teacup. Sure, they’ll go hear your exclusively non-white, non-hetero composers in concert (especially if they are alive because ‘boooo! Dead, white composers suuuuck and they were probably racist, xenophobic, patriarchy-loving, white-privileged rapists anyway!’ ) and they might even come back once again (out of a feeling of duty to the movement). But mediocre, or plain awful music that relies on a message alone and not quality, is meaningless and unappealing. We had that revolution in the classical world with composers like Boulez and we (and him) ended up going back to music that’s great, no matter when it was written and by whom and if it was written in a time when women or people of color didn’t have the rights they have today.
        So, all of these woke audiences you try to attract to your concerts with music exclusively by LGBTQ BIPOC composers or performers and specifically performances intentionally not involving dead, white, male composers eventually will go back to my type of concerts, where they can enjoy music that is timeless and isn’t there to tell them how awful everything is and how if we would all just wake up and accept that there are 39 genders, everything will be fine and a very special transexual black and opressed ‘my pronoun is Zer’ will compose the future great Symphony that will be popular for centuries, except, it’ll only be premiered and never performed again.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Karajan was named Kapellmeister in Ulm at 25, as opposed to Bender, who is 35.
    No. There will never be a “next Karajan”.

  • Peter X says:

    Magical thinking.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    I miss the former Karajan.

  • Don Eulenspiegel Juan says:

    Another successful sensationalist title. Give yourself a cookie and a gold star, Norman.

  • Alexander says:

    mr.Fender Bender ? 😉 … any way I support Petros Linardos and wish him well 😉

  • Karlo says:

    Was he a mitlaufer with narcissistic personality disorder?

  • Zandonai says:

    I’m still waiting for America’s new Bernstein.

  • M McAlpine says:

    I wonder if he has to raise and lower the curtain like Karajan apparently had to when he started?