Manfred Honeck rules out New York and Chicago

Manfred Honeck rules out New York and Chicago


norman lebrecht

September 25, 2021

The Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck has quashed speculation that he might be in line to become music director at the New York Philharmonic or Chicago Symphony.

This weekend, he signed on again with the Pittsburgh Symphony, keeping him there to 2028.

Honeck, 63, was appointed in 2008.




  • Sixtus Beckmesser says:

    Pittsburgh is fortunate to have him. I heard him a few years ago conducting the Chicago Symphony and have never heard them better!

  • Henry says:

    Lucky Pittsburgh. I haven’t heard them live, but their Eroica recording is thrilling.

  • Frank Flambeau says:

    Too bad; he would have been great in Chicago. Very talented.

    I now see Ivan Fischer in New York and Osmo Vanska in Chicago (yes, I know he’s going to Korea and think that is why the CSO agreed with Muti for one more year; Osmo is only 68, Muti is in his 80’s. I doubt either orchestra will choose a woman but I do think Minny is ready and willing to do so and will sell tons of records in so doing.

    • MacroV says:

      Much as I like Osmo Vanska, I’m not sure he qualifies as the super-A list type of conductor the CSO will surely be demanding.

  • Ari Bocian says:

    I predict this makes Marin Alsop the official frontrunner for either or both positions – most likely Chicago, since she’s already the chief conductor of Ravinia. It would be both a fantastic capstone to her career, and a historic first for both ensembles.

    • mary says:

      Marin Alsop is not good enough.The CSO doesn’t choose who heads Ravinia.

      • Alank says:

        I have been to several performances by Alsop and the BSO over the years. For some reason she has always left me a bit cold and not satisfied. She clearly is a fine and skilled conductor but would not rank her in the top echelon. I would note that her recordings of the Dvorak symphonies with the BSO are very good.

    • pjl says:

      she is simply not a great enough conductor; worthy but dull in most of her recordings and concerts

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Smart man, I think. Pittsburgh has a record contract with Reference Recordings. Chicago and New York have to produce their own. Of course, who knows what any of that will mean in the post-Covid future.

  • Alfano says:

    He’d never have been considered for either, so I wonder where such speculation came from. Ha !

  • sam says:

    I too would like to quash any speculation that I’d be going to Chicago or New York or the Concertgebouw.

    It’s unseemly, these rumors of my greatness and my desirability, I’m but a humble servant to music.

  • phf655 says:

    I see he’s conducting approximately 10 weeks of programs in the 21/22 season. Chicago and New York are each about an hour by plane from Pittsburgh, though I think Chicago is a better fit for him than New York. That time commitment doesn’t rule out another position, which requires about the same amount of time. Pittsburgh doesn’t do much touring, but I heard Honeck and the orchestra perform an extraordinary Mahler 5 in New York before the pandemic.

    • Kenny says:

      Agreed in spades. Best I ever heard, and that’s a lot.

    • MacroV says:

      You don’t Chicago (or Pittsburgh) and another American orchestra.

    • Former Pittsburgher says:

      Actually, Pittsburgh does tour quite extensively, mostly in Europe. They’ve played in NY 4 times under Honeck. 7 or 8 tours to Europe since Honeck took over. Two other tidbits: they were the first American orchestra to ever perform at the Lucerne Festival and have played at the Proms more than nearly all other American orchestras.

    • The View from America says:

      If New York or Chicago wants a ton of Austro-German repertoire, Honeck’s their man. Minnesota likes Scandinavian music, and they got a ton of that with Vanska.

  • MacroV says:

    The good thing about this is that nobody should consider the Pittsburgh Symphony a stepping stone toward another orchestra.

  • Chicagorat says:

    Meet a smart man. Why would a world-caliber conductor associate himself to Chicago, now?

    Five years from now maybe, after Muti’s stench, … uh I meant aura, is gone.

  • Eulalia Johnson says:

    I’ve heard him conduct the NY Phil. Every time, the concerts were superlative. The orchestra clearly loved him. Pittsburgh is indeed fortunate to have this man at the helm of their band.

  • Lothario Hunter says:

    Dear Maestro Honeck,

    look kindly upon our intruding, prayerful plea.

    You are hasting and rushing your decision without all the information you need, therefore foregoing a marvelous opportunity!!

    Yes yes, the Orchestra in Chicago is shriveled and ossified after a decade of Muti treatment, but honestly who cares?

    Under the power duo Alexander-Muti, the CSO has pioneered groundbreaking Music Director benefit packages that go beyond your untamed dreams! Call Alexander today and query him about the entertainment benefits. Comforts that would be unacceptable in other backward places (such as Los Angeles where they frown upon Doming and “go by the book” blah blah) are strongly encouraged, promoted and suitably protected in Chicago.

    A Music Director, wearied by a tough life, treated unfairly, often aggrieved, and now almost extinct, needs his dose of fun, and Chicago knows that.

    Call Alexander now, he is the one truly progressive trailblazer setting shocking orchestra management standards which are barely understood today, but will be followed for decades!

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Honeck is respected in both Chicago and NY.

    Glad to see a conductor staying put and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship with his/her orchestra instead of looking for more.

    He may have an escape clause in his contract should one of the orchestras want him bad enough.

  • SMH says:

    Simone Young should be considered for both orchestras.

  • Harpist says:

    Well, from the recordings I heard and cherish they are a stupendous team so why change. Wish they would visit Carnegie Hall though post corona sometime!

  • Nick Kalogeresis says:

    We do not want him anyway in Chicago.