Exclusive: Two maestros receive $1/4 million Covid aid

Exclusive: Two maestros receive $1/4 million Covid aid


norman lebrecht

May 14, 2021

The State Aid Transparency Award Module instituted by the European Union has revealed that the Austrian Government has been splashing its cash to a number of musicians and musical organisations, not necessarily the most deserving.

Under ‘COVID-19 – Austrian liquidity assistance scheme’, SA number 56840, the Colombian conductor ‘Orozco Estrada Andres Felipe’ was awarded 211,200.00 EUR on November 19, 2020. That’s US $256,153.

Orozco (pictured) is chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. He is also music director in Houston. Both are well-paid jobs.

Under file number SA.60599, the violinist Julian Rachlin was awarded 230,000.00 EUR as a bridging loan guarantee on May 29 last year.

The Vienna Mozart Orchestra, a touring ensemble of freelance musicians, was granted 1.8 million Euros on April 27.

The Residenz Orchester received more than 800,000 Euros.

Thanks to EU transparency these figures are now in the public domain but Austrian media have not picked up the story.

As ever, you read it here first.



  • RW2013 says:

    I hope he donates it to a worthy cause.

  • alfred.dubarre says:

    As ever, this blog is full of itself for getting there before anyone else…. or so it thinks. This was reported days ago in the EU.

  • ViennaCalling says:

    The high state help for the Mozart & Residenz Orchestras is a good decision. A lot of freelance musicians of the city are hired by these orchestras and let’s hope that the orchestras distributed their money well to their freelance artists.

    The 200.000s for Orozco and Rachlin have to be a joke, right? Or should we fear that otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to buy their weekly groceries?

    • not cool says:

      If you know how much these “Tourism Orchestras” pay their musician, you will not think so. in average musician only get under €100 per Concert, and the orchestra manager cash thousands of euros per concert. is that fair?

  • Ohio says:

    wouldn’t call rachlin a maestro
    hopefully these institutions will donate some money to their freelance musicians!

  • John Borstlap says:

    As we know, famous maestros often have serious money problems.

  • NY musician says:

    Rachlin may have large instrument loan repayments?

  • Marfisa says:

    “the most deserving”? “awarded”? The liquidity fund is not a talent competition. The claims of Orozco-Estrada and Rachlin would have been properly submitted and scrutizined (or perhaps I am not cynical enough for this site). But in my view Orozco-Estrada ‘deserves’ every cent.

    • Marfisa says:

      As a footnote, I loathe the creeping American usage of ‘I deserve’ to mean no more than ‘I want’.

      Does anyone actually know what the living costs are for a mid-career in-demand conductor with international commitments?

      And I do think Orozco-Estrada is wonderful (and so is the hr-sinfonieorchester, with its generous YouTube videos).

  • None of the freelance musicians received ANY cent from Residenz Orchester.

    • ViennaCalling says:

      If that’s true, it’s a scandal and investigations by the Austrian Law and Tax Departments would be urgently necessary! If you have any proof, it would be probably a good idea to inform the newspaper Standard about this case.

  • fflambeau says:

    I took a lot of flak here for writing that a story about Orozco Estrada Andres Felipe not being able to get back to Houston to conduct because of Covid made no sense. What I wrote is correct. He now is getting huge funding for doing little in Europe; I suspected he did not wish to return.

  • Fiddleman says:

    Come on! As chief conductor of the Wiener Symphoniker, as well as the Houston Sympohny and the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, Orozco-Estrada must be pulling in some big bucks as fixed salary, which is paid whether he conducts or not. You can’t tell me that he is a “deserving recipient”!

  • Jerry says:

    So, are these loans (that have to be paid back) or grants (that don’t have to be paid back)? One is simlply stated as being “award” while the other is a “bridging loan guarantee.”