How I saved Vienna’s dead

How I saved Vienna’s dead


norman lebrecht

February 16, 2022

We reported yesterday that the young conductor Yoel Gamzou flew in at the last possible moment to conduct Die Tote Stadt at the Staatsoper on Monday,

Here’s his account:

What a roller coaster these past two days have been… I don’t even know where to start. Maybe with my dream as a child, queuing for a standing-ticket in front of the Vienna State Opera (it cost €2,50 at the time) and dreaming, one day, to have the privilege to conduct in this mythological house, where Mahler once conducted.

Yesterday morning, while slowly making my way to Berlin hoping to calmly catch my flight to Milan, I got a call to step in at 10 hours notice @ Wiener Staatsoper and conduct Korngold’s Tote Stadt (which was composed in my building!!) without rehearsal. The good news about making a debut in such a way, is that one doesn’t even have the time to be nervous.

12 hours later I started processing what has just happened… and what an enormous privilege it was to make music with that incredible orchestra. I am humbled and deeply inspired by what I have experienced yesterday night, and I feel such enormous gratitude to all members of the Vienna Philharmonic / Wiener Philharmoniker for their trust, their incredible musicianship and for going on this very adventurous journey with me last night. I learned so much and I feel truly fortunate. What an incredible group of musicians.

Several hours later, I ended up in Milan rehearsing Mahler’s First Symphony and my beloved Korngold’s Violin Concerto with the Orchestra Sinfonia di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, and I am so much looking forward to our concerts this week!
What a couple of days! Almost no sleep… but true, deep happiness.


  • Achim Mentzel says:

    Respect, but it should be mentioned fairly that he has the same agent as the indisposed, and this agent represents also the music director of the institution, and looking at the list of guest conductors, this certain agent has apparently the entire opera house under control.

    • Alviano says:

      I still think the statement sounds an attractive mix of humility and pride. I look forward to hearing more of him.

    • John Kelly says:

      I have to assume he’s conducted the opera before – the score is extraordinarily complex and it certainly doesn’t “play itself”!

    • sga says:

      I don’t see how that’s relevant to the fact that the man jumped in with less than 12 hours notice to make his Wiener Staatsoper debut in a fiendishly difficult score he hadn’t conducted in nearly three years with zero rehearsal time. Even if he’d had three days’ notice, it’s extremely impressive.

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    He has neglected to mention the name of the violin soloist in Korngold’s “beloved” Violin Concerto. A bad sign.

  • Marcello says:

    The picture is of the Munich production with Kaufmann and Petersen.

  • Francesco Maria Colombo says:

    I was there (at the Staatsoper) and he was just phenomenal.

  • Bonetti Micaela says:

    Maestro Gamzou, mi son piaciuti la gioia e l’entusiasmo del Suo racconto e Le dico: in bocca al lupo, per il concerto a Milano!