Simon Rattle gets stuck in to Munich hall row

Simon Rattle gets stuck in to Munich hall row


norman lebrecht

March 29, 2022

Markus Söder, Minister-President of Bavaria, this weekend cast doubt on the viability of a new concert hall for Munich, saying it would cost a billion Euros and was inappropriate in present circumstances.

His intervention has drawn a guarded response from Sir Simon Rattle, incoming music director at Bavarian Radio.

In a press release just issued by BR, Rattle says he does not want to comment on Söder’s thoughts from afar, but he reminds the politician that they discussed plans for the hall before he accepted the Munich job and he very much hopes the investment will go ahead.

To London ears, this sounds horribly familiar.


  • Fernandel says:

    Sir Simon considers seriously going back to the blazing Birmingham Symphony Hall…

    • Sabine says:

      What??? How do you mean???

      • Karl says:

        I think Fernandel means that it’s the only good hall in Britain.

        • Mister Bee says:

          Rubbish! Obviously never been to Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall or Gateshead’s Sage…..

          • DONALD HAMILTON says:

            Actually, it was Rattle’s experience of the Nottingham Hall, designed by Russell Johnson of Artec, that led him to ask the CBSO board to press for the appointment of Johnson as designer of Symphony Hall when the Birmingham City Council announced its intention to include a new concert hall in its convention centre.

        • Thomas M. says:

          Not true. Bridgewater Hall in Manchester is excellent, too.

    • Una says:

      And then his kids thern acquire a Brummy accent! I Ha, ha, ha! Doubt it. Never pays to go back in life or time.

  • St Peter says:

    I wonder if he’ll blame Brexit again…

  • IC225 says:

    Trouble in Munich, eh? That pesky Brexit gets everywhere.

    • Andreas B. says:

      well, Munich did manage to build two new halls (Isarphilharmonie, Gasteig) even after Brexit …

      in the current situation, ‘casting doubts’ over the BRSO hall looks like a convenient and rather populist move for Söder’s CSU, trying to boost poll numbers before next year’s elections.

      • La plus belle voix says:

        Fact check: Gasteig was opened in 1985.

        • Andreas B. says:

          yes, of course you’re right:
          the Gasteig complex is almost 40 years old.

          still, right now its Philharmonie is being almost completely rebuilt, costing north of 500 million euros.

          eventually, it might be as good as a new hall – hopefully:
          slightly smaller and more intimate, but most importantly with much improved acoustics.

        • Tamino says:

          He probably is refering to the Gasteig being completely rebuilt inside right now. Which necessitated the temporary Isarphilharmonie in the first place.

        • Fact check of a half truth: The city just spent 300 million euros on the Gasteig, the large majority of which went toward fixing the Gasteig Concert Hall’s disastrous acoustics.

          • La plus belle voix says:

            Fact check #2

            The final approved figure is 450 million Euros.

            This will be spent on:

            renovation of the main concert hall “Philharmonie” and its foyer, renovation of the Carl-Orff-Saal, renovation of the Kleiner Konzert Saal, renovation of the Black Box, a new main Foyer “Glasshalle”, two new restaurant areas, a new viewing platform and restaurant on the roof, new equipment ramps and loading areas, new box office areas, a new Kindergarten, new office of cultural affairs, a home for the Münchner Kammerorchester, renovation of backstage areas for the Munich Philharmonic, renovation of City Library and its new offices and archives/holdings plus lecture hall, Munich Adult Education offices and teaching spaces + “Forum”, new Centre for Inclusion, and new office space for external concert presenters.

            Also, all water, electricity, heating and other technical services will be newly installed. Yes, the main hall will take a chunk, but it is but one of 25 projects.

    • Stereo says:

      I think he lives in a different world from everybody else!

  • waw says:

    Bye bye Munich, HELLO Chicago.

    That’s right, Chicago may not be able to promise Sir Simon a new hall, but it CAN guarantee a minimum $2 Million annual salary for 10 weeks’ work, and the summer off.

    Rattle’s agent can start negotiations at $5 M.

  • waw says:

    Gotta finance the German war machine now, in “present circumstances”.

  • I want my new concert hall or I’ll go home.

    • Maria says:

      Home to what? Gas bills going up astronomically in April and October, and inflation now at 6+% even on food, and the dreadful effects of the pandemic on audiences and costs. Vicious circle in Britain and Ireland. Everyone cutting back.

  • With the much praised new Isar Philharmonie (cost a mere 40 million euros) and the newly rebuilt Gasteig Konzertsaal, Munich will soon have plenty of good halls. I think it could better use the money to build a new building for the University of Music so that it is no longer housed in the horrific Führerbau. They also need more room.

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Dear Mr Osborn,

      The Isar Philharmonie is an interim building. The Hochschule für Musik und Theater has ample extra space on, er, its Gasteig campus. Have you actually been to Munich?

      • I lived in Munich for years.
        The Isar Philharmonie is an excellent concert hall with much praised acoustics. There is no reason it has to be interim. The problems of having the University of Music in the Führerbau speaks for itself, though certain Munich sensibilities find this–ahem–easier to overlook.

        • La plus belle voix says:

          Fact check:

          The Isar Philharmonie was designed as and remains an interim building. Its safety certificate is limited in temporal terms. The hall will be dismantled when the Gasteig has been renovated.

          The Munich Philharmonic wanted something that would enable the players to hear each other and the remit was to have something slightly over resonant as opposed to ideal acoustics. Apparently, it is pretty bass heavy.

          Finally, I can not imagine anyone in Munich has a problem with the history with the building currently used by the Hochschule für Musik und Theater. Nothing speaks for itself. There are no facts to back up this claim.

  • Micaelo Cassetti says:

    Sounds rather Wagnerian… Maestro has to schlep round the world in search of a state that will buy him the brand-new concert hall to which he feels so entitled…

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Fact check: the debate about a new hall for the (homeless) Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio has raged for over two decades now, and has nothing to do with Sir Simon.

      • Fact check: The BRSO is not homeless. It’s home concert hall is the Herkulessaal which has a fine acoustic. They just want one that is bigger and more symbolic of prestige.

        • La plus belle voix says:

          The acoustics in the Herkulessaal are by all accounts miserable. Looking at photos, the stage is about 1.5 meters higher than the seating. Maybe it is better up top. It is not the orchestra’s home, and over the years the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio has it would seem appeared often enough in the Gasteig, when a conductor (probably) refuses to use the Herkulessaal.

    • henry williams says:

      he should not of left the BPO.

  • Nik says:

    The new London hall was never more than a pipe dream. You make it sound as if there was a realistic chance of its being built.

  • Una says:

    This is really history repeating itself. Why the hell doesn’t he just get on with making music, especially bringing music for the disadvantaged and the deprived, as he did in Birmingham, and forget about erecting concert halls and leading protests. I have He’s just getting on most people’s nerves, and certainly in Britain!

  • Gustavo says:

    Rattle’s last battle.

    He will finally go Chicago.

  • Mr Brexit says:

    Arrogant little man (talented though) – my Dad always wondered how he managed to snag the Berlin Phil job instead of Haitink.

    • Lorne says:

      Because the players voted for him.

      And as a player who’s worked with him I can tell you that ‘arrogant’ is way off the mark.

      Why have an opinion if you don’t know? SR is the most down to earth and humble musician I’ve met – self deprecating, encouraging and always acting for the interests of everyone else.

    • Alexander T says:

      Same here.

    • Fernandel says:

      He got the job, in 1999, instead of Barenboim…

  • Patrick says:

    LSO shall be ecstatic to see the back of him after his disloyalty as Principal Conductor, losing a London concert hall and the holy grail of Brexit. A very arrogant man, now a German citizen, and the best kept secret in the music world as the Emperor s new clothes.

    • Lorne says:

      You are completely wrong. Totally.

      ‘Ecstatic to see the back of him’..?

      The LSO is a completely self governed orchestra so, clearly, players played a major role in decision to appoint Simon Rattle as conductor emeritus – so that they can maintain the relationship with him and work together in the future.

  • Alexander T says:

    Never understood the hype concerning the man.

  • MB says:

    Well, the economy is stagnating, and the Covid situation is bad. Probably not the best time for new capital expenditures.

  • Mark(London) says:

    Hilarious ! Rattle obsession with new halls. Goes back to Birmingham . Now he seems to think the last 2 positions he’s taken up were on condition of a spanking new hall . If it’s so damn important get it written in the contract!