Just in: Nelsons switches Boston for Munich Philharmonic

Just in: Nelsons switches Boston for Munich Philharmonic


norman lebrecht

April 28, 2022

The consequences of Boston Symphony’s cancellation of its Europe tour are starting to roll in.

Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie has booked the Munich Phil to replace them, but with the same conductor. That’s…. delicate. Even a bit cheeky. So my main orchestra won’t come to Europe? I’ll find a local band instead.

Nelson’s agents may be sending a signal that he’s in play.

Here’s the press statement:
Die Münchner Philharmoniker übernehmen am 20. und 21. Mai zwei weitere Konzerte in der Elbphilharmonie Hamburg. Das Orchester springt für das Boston Symphony Orchestra ein, das aufgrund eines großen Corona-Ausbruchs unter den Musiker*innen seine gesamte Europa-Tournee für dieses Frühjahr absagen musste. Die Münchner Philharmoniker freuen sich auf diese beiden Konzerte mit Andris Nelsons, unter dessen Leitung das Boston Symphony Orchestra zwei Konzerte mit Werken von Richard Strauss im Rahmen des internationalen Musikfests Hamburg bestritten hätte.

Das Orchester ist somit innerhalb einer Woche an vier Tagen in der Hamburger Elbphilharmonie zu erleben: Am 14. und 15. Mai wird Daniele Gatti mit zwei verschiedenen Programmen (u.a. Bruckner Symphonie Nr. 9, Schostakowitsch Symphonie Nr. 5) am Pult der Münchner Philharmoniker stehen, beide Programme werden auch am 16. und 17. Mai in der Philharmonie de Paris zur Aufführung kommen.

Am 20. und 21. Mai wird das Orchester nun nach Hamburg zurückkehren und mit Andris Nelsons ein reines Strauss-Programm bestreiten. Auf dem Programm stehen »Träumerei am Kamin« aus der Oper »Intermezzo«, »Vier letzte Lieder« (Solistin: Rachel Willis-Sørensen), »Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche« und »Tod und Verklärung«.


  • Petros Linardos says:

    So how do we know it was Nelsons who made the calls and not, say, the Proms? How do we know what his contractual obligations were?
    (The headline initially made me think Nelsons was giving up the Boston music directorship for Munich. I wouldn’t mind another director in Boston.)

    • Michael Blim says:

      I agree. It has been seeming for a time that Boston has seen pretty much all Nelsons has — save for his opera skills.

      • Grammophon says:

        The Bruckner cycle was a disaster. He made ALL the wrong choices.

      • Herr Doktor says:

        Whether “Boston has seen pretty much all Nelsons has” or not, generally speaking his tenure in Boston can only be considered a great success, and there have been many memorable concerts – and some that have been less so. But it’s all good. I for one look forward to many more good years for Andris Nelsons in Boston. He will depart at some point, but I’m in no rush to see that happen.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Herr Dr., My, admittedly limited, experience with Nelsons tells me that he shines in fast and loud music, and is shallow in Mozart or anything introspective. Do you think otherwise?

        • Greg says:

          I agree with both points made above. It is very possible that Nelsons has run his course in Boston. Honestly, I have never quite bought into the hype surrounding him.

          That said, the BSO is now playing at a level it has not achieved in some time. The unanimity of the brass section, in particular, is a welcome change after years of foundering a bit. Some of the recordings that have come out with Nelsons are very fine. The orchestra seems to have been reinvigorated. I don’t know if this has more to do with personnel changes, Nelsons’ rapport with the orchestra, or something else. There were a few aimless seasons prior to AN’s arrival, and the ship seems to have been righted to a large degree.

          • Nick S says:

            The principal French Horn still the weakest spot. I think he might have some health issues to maintain the long breath and hold the notes in pitch. The wood wind section are great likely the best in the nation at this time. The strings underwent some changes from the retirement are getting better, but not quite there yet. Compared to 10 years ago when there’s a vacant on the podium, I have to give Nielsen credit to right the ship. It’s way better now.

          • Cynthia Curme says:

            All of those reasons. The rapport with the orchestra is deep and he shows respect and is collaborative.

    • Tamino says:

      Nothing to it. Just moneyed interest.
      Nelson’s agency just couldn’t let their best cash cow go idle for a few reflective and recovering days.
      They will burn him as long as he has oil in his lamp. Let’s hope he doesn’t burn out too soon.

  • Gustavo says:

    It may seem better for the Earth’s climate and for public health.

    However, the change in orchestra and programme is rather disappointing.

    I would have loved to hear Alpensinfonie and Domestica with BSO and Nelsons!


    I’ll now retreat with the CDs like in the good old lockdown-days.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Yes, that’s right; Nelsons not travelling to Europe is going to save the world. Gesture politics; let’s find a cure.

  • MacroV says:

    Oh Please! So the Elbphilharmonie replaced the BSO on its schedule with an orchestra from not that far away, one that’s now without a principal conductor, and Nelsons had an open date. “In play” for what? Nelsons has a job with a top German orchestra and a top American orchestra.

  • Agent says:

    It’s all so much vain nonsense. Orchestras should stay put and serve their communities!

    • Tamino says:

      Yes, and movie actors should stay out of the movie business and work at local theaters. And everything should be like in the 19th century. No toilet paper too!

  • Gustavo says:

    Perhaps it’s an audition?

    Wrong concert hall if you ask me.

  • Fred Funk says:

    Herding 11 viola players through baggage claim….

  • Rafael F says:

    The are so many fine American conductors scattered around the world, I wonder why they’re not at the helm of the important American orchestras. Why don’t we start making ‘American orchestras great for Americans’ ??

    • Tamino says:

      Seriously. Who cares about the passport of a conductor? Is he at home in the music and required repertoire is the important question.
      “Nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

    • Gustavo says:

      Bull shit.

      The USA has always been and will always be a nation of African, Asian and European immigrants.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Name a few who could bear these responsibilities. I can only think of James Gaffigan, Robert Trevino, Michael Stern and perhaps James Feddeck. And none of them for a Big 5 (yet).

  • Lucy says:

    Are there enough cheeseburgers in Munich ?

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Much ado about nothing.

  • Tim Wheeler says:

    Can we have an English translation please. Not all of are multi-lingual. Thank you.

    • Walter says:

      If you have Chrome just right-click the text and choose translate and you’re done. Alternatively Google Translate is your friend.

  • Rafael F says:

    Canellakis, Kemensek, Alsop, Aucoin, even Gilbert and Conlon I’d prefer to see any of these names in charge of American orchestras… Nelsons, Muti, Noseda, Dudamel, should all go home…

  • Thomas M. says:

    Nelsons is an uneven conductor. The one time I heard him live was at the Proms, when he destroyed Dvorák’s lovely 8th Symphony by dissecting rather than just conducting it. I was horrified. On records, his Shostakovich cycle has been wildly uneven, ranging from exciting to perfunctory, as for his Bruckner – who cares?