Dausgaard’s other orchestra hasn’t seen him in 20 months

Dausgaard’s other orchestra hasn’t seen him in 20 months


norman lebrecht

January 15, 2022

Before his Seattle position came crashing down, we reported that Thomas Dausgaard had cancelled concerts with his other orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony.


Ken Walton writes in the Scotsman:

Enforced cancellations early on also affected Dausgaard’s BBC SSO commitments, where he hasn’t been seen for 20 months. Even with travel restrictions eased in the early 2021-22 season – as evidenced in numerous appearances by fellow Dane Thomas Søndergård with the RSNO – call-offs continued.

The latest was last week, affecting the first concert in his last major project as chief conductor, a series featuring all of Carl Nielsen’s six symphonies. In a BBC press release, Dausgaard said: “Unfortunately it is clear the world in 2022 is not yet as stable as we might have hoped, and with the continuing health risks and responsibilities we must all face, travelling at this moment in the pandemic is sadly not an option for me.”

Who knows whether he will feel more inclined to travel for his next scheduled appearance in March, or the three concerts in May that will complete the Nielsen Cycle? The SSO had to replace him last week with the young English conductor Geoffrey Paterson….

Read on here.



  • Commenter says:

    Dausgaard is great, and nobody should be blamed for choosing to stay home instead of travel given this ongoing pandemic. Some might choose to live otherwise, but he is entitled to live in a way that feels safe to him. Also, as someone who has worked a fair amount under his baton, I must say that the man has pretty high standards and expects a lot out of the people he works with — both in the orchestra and behind the scenes. He’s facing a lot of criticism for his swift departure from Seattle, but I think there are some very understandable reasons he chose to leave.

    • Alan says:

      If he’s vaccinated and boosted then he’s in more danger crossing the road. If he’s not then he’ll be hiding under the bed for a while as this becomes endemic.

      • Billy says:

        The virus is mutating down and getting weaker; Omicron is extremely mild, and therefore (1) not much to worry about and (2) a great way to aquire natural immunity if you catch it.

        So I’m confused as to why should he be hiding under his bed if he’s not vaxxed? Not understanding the logic. This virus has always had a very high survival rate (like ~98%) even since the beginning, and data shows that the vast majority of those who get sick and die have multiple comorbidities. Even if he were relatively healthy and unvaxxed, I’m not sure why you think he should be worried?

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Here at SD, they go on and on and on about Carlos Kleiber. Yet, Kleiber wasn’t exactly committed to anyone, and was a bit of a ‘cancellation artist’ himself.

      • Matt D says:

        When Kleiber got famous and entered his prima Donna mode, canceling at his will, he was never in a position of responsibility. Nobody depended on him. The way Dausgaard left the SSO was very strange. And weak.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Heaven forbid that a Scottish orchestra should actually employ a scottish replacement. A young english conuctor being much more preferable to any ‘local’ talent. Of course the same things apply in all countries. The allure of the exotic?

  • Musician says:

    I wonder why a Scottish journalist writes derogatorily about Dausgaard exactly at this point – when more and more becomes public about Krishna Thiagarajan’s misbehaviour in Seattle?
    Thiagarajan was before in Scotland at the RSNO, opposite the BBC Scottish where Dausgaard still is.
    Is this a move from Mr Thiagarajan to involve the Scottish press when fighting for his position at the Seattle Symphony?
    Does Thiagarajan try to pressure Dausgaard not to reveal more about his time in Seattle?

    I have played under Dausgaard for several years. He is an excellent conductor and has integrity in music and as a human being. A rare mixture nowadays.
    Furthermore as it was said already: In this extraordinary time of a pandemic, nobody has to justify himself for taking care.

  • Raul says:

    At least he first went to Seattle before resigning… actually, quitting. Scotland should be easier to get to than the west coast of the USA.

  • Frank Flambeau says:

    This story suggests that Dausgaard has bigger problems than with the Seattle Symphony admin. Commenter is way off base.

    • Scottish Player says:

      Commenter is exactly right, as is Musician. I’ve worked under both men for protracted periods.

      T Dausgaard is wonderful to play under. Prepared, opinionated, exciting. What more could a player want?

      The same can’t be said for K Thiagarajan, I’m afraid, whose behaviour behind-the-scenes in Scotland was hardly illustrious.

    • Eddie Simonyi says:

      Frank you’re such a bore. You keep adding the same tired trope in every comment. Why don’t you reveal your position and stake in the fight so we at least all know who you *really* are.

  • Frank Flambeau says:

    From the linked story: “In truth, the BBC SSO’s Dausgaard era is now as good as over. It hasn’t been an especially distinguished one.” It turns out they and Seattle voted him out before his shock resignation (Seattle) and nonappearances (Scotland).

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Good for Geoffrey Paterson. A lovely chap and very talented musician.

  • BigSir says:

    There is a lesson he didn’t learn growing up about commitment. I’ve read the Seattle article and realize that is a complicated situation but the musicians are going onstage and the audiences are showing up yet he continues to hide in the bunker!

  • Michael P McGrath says:

    Is more going on here than meets the eye?

  • Maria Jimena says:

    I feel bad for Daausgard. These articles that have been popping out have been just needless. Anybody is entitled to resign if the environment is unhealthy. Additionally, there is the pandemic situation. He has to take care of himself and because of this he is being hold responsible. The writer should dedicate to writing about the many issues surrounding Thiagarajan and leave the maestro out of this. It is totally out of place to compare his time as conductor at the BBC SSO with the previous conductors. Shame on the writer.

  • James Benson says:

    A purely musical observation-I caught Dausgaard and the BBC Scottish at the Usher Hall in 2018 in a programme of Ravel and Debussy. I go to a few concerts around the UK in most normal years, and recalled an exceptional LSO Mahler 6 with this conductor back in 2013, but that didn’t really prepare me for the excellence of these Edinburgh performances. Of the 13 different British and European symphony orchestras that I heard live in 2018, the BBC Scottish that particular day was absolutely in the highest rank. So wonderful to hear an ensemble that is often underestimated playing so brilliantly-one of the highlights of the year for me.

  • Harpist says:

    He may have a condition that makes him vulnerable, who knows.