Munich shortens list of Gergiev replacements

Munich shortens list of Gergiev replacements


norman lebrecht

May 20, 2022

The Munich Philharmonic rolls out its 2022-23 season next week, but the lineup for likely successors to Valery Gergiev is already clear.

The players’ current favourite is the young Finn Klaus Mäkelä (pic), who is due back next month and may be offered the job by acclamation. Problem? He’s already committed in Oslo and Paris, and both New York and Chicago have him in their sights. Can Munich compete?

Next in line is the Italian Daniele Gatti, a known commodity, slightly shopsoiled from his Concertgebouw dismissal.

The Russian Tughan Sokhiev would be a like-for-like with Gergiev, only without the Putin private jet.

Daniel Harding is often mentioned.

As is the unattached Pole, Krzysztof Urbański.

The other young Finn Santtu-Matias Rouvali is an outside runner.

That’s it, Volks.


  • JLR says:

    I’ll put my bet on Gatti. His two concerts with them in Paris this week were very idiomatic and nothing short of phenomenal (incl. a Bruckner 9 for the ages) and the orchestra players genuinely seemed to respond very warmly to him. It really came across as a special match.

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      His bad time in Amsterdam and the aftermath for what he has done (exactly we will never know) and went through are over it could be a possibility; he has worked in Bayreuth also it could be a good point. But I don’t think it’s the better choice

    • Tuttischwein says:

      Sorry to disappoint, not many of us want another tyrant.

      • Pit says:

        So you want a person that says to the orchestra all the time “ oh, you sound so lovely, please continue like this..”??

        Can’t hear anymore the word tyrant but therefor coming middleclsss minus but looking good and being soooo nice and lovely… pity

      • Fernandel says:

        Gatti is by no means a tyrant. Just a demanding conductor, just as Sawallisch, Giulini, Dohnanyi were. I am afraid the Munich Philharmonic are under his level. In fact, Gatti would be ideal in Dresden.

  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    Let’s go for Rouvali ! Forget Mäkelä he’s not free anyway. And personaly I prefer Rouvali.

  • Herr Doktor says:

    I haven’t heard Klaus Makela live. But his Bruckner 9 live on YouTube did not impress me. However, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a Bruckner 9 by any conductor in their 20s that has impressed me. I do look forward to hearing him live at some point.

    Why is Hannu Lintu’s name never on these sorts of lists? He’s STUNNING based on 3 live concerts I’ve heard, and has had real chemistry with the orchestras I’ve heard him conduct (two). His Bruckner 5 I heard live in Iceland was cosmic, by far the greatest live performance I’ve ever heard (including some very good live performances Ive heard from Haitink and Welser- Most, and some not so good performances from Ozawa, Zander, and Barenboim). Lintu’s concerts with the BSO were highlights of their respective seasons. He gave us a wonderful Sibelius 2 in Boston, and an excellent Bartok Concerto for Orchestra. I’m not sure how someone of his tremendous caliber seems to lack a corresponding “public” reputation.

    Gatti is a solid conductor, and I will never forget the live Brahms 4 I heard from him in Boston–it still rings in my ears. But I’ve heard 3 other concerts in Boston from Gatti that didn’t rise about the routine.

    Munich – invite Hannu Lintu for a visit!

    • pierre says:

      Absolutely agree with your mention of Hannu Lintu – I absolutely loved his recordings of Lutoslawski’s Symphonies, and was hoping to see him in Paris for a Schumann Cello Concerto with Sol Gabetta and Messiaen’s Turangalila. COVID cancelled it all, but it would have been a beautiful night.

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      It would be a good choice. I’am sure that he would bring something interisting. This orchestra needs someone with experience but maybe for some he’s not enough famous. But now it’s more in the hype to think about Mäkelä. And I don’t know if Lintu has worked with this orchestra his more used to play in Paris as guest.

    • Amos says:

      Having watched/listened to a few Makela concerts I don’t get the hype. The constants are the double breasted suits and the annoying habit of preceeding every section marked f to fff with 0.5 p whether appropriate or not. Moving and animated facial expressions while conducting are fine until they appear to become a gimmick.

  • nope says:

    Enough with Klaus Makela, please. He’s good, but he’s turned into some placeholder ‘favourite’ for any MD job out there. A conductor cannot be suited for everyone and everywhere. It’s getting tedious, and rather than making him seem more exceptional, makes him more and more banal and vanilla.

  • Eyal Braun says:

    I also attended the Munich PO concert with Gatti earlier this week and it was phenomenal- the Bruckner 9th was a major success and it seems that the orchestraenjoys working with him.

  • JB says:

    Why do always the same 3-4 names come up in these discussions ? I should have studied conducting, there seems to be lack of candidates.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Just because some names get discussed in blogs doesn’t mean the orchestras consider them for music directors.

  • Blanco says:

    Makele already agreed for Concertgebouw from 2027.
    News from the musicians

  • Robert Manno says:

    Missing from this list (in my opinion) is the best possible choice: Jakub Hrusa.

  • torches and pitchforks says:

    Looking at the Munich Phil’s conductors over the last 40 years, we have the misogynistic and mentally ill Celibidache, the child abuser Levine, the autocratic German reactionary Thielemann, and the Putin-buddy Gergiev. Gatti, fired from the Concertgebouw for sexual abuse, would fit right into a blooming historical tradition. Surely he’s the one!

    • Tuttischwein says:

      Luckily, there are enough people in the orchestra who have had it with despots. Gatti over my dead body.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Between Thielemann and Gergiev there was the aging Maazel, who may have had a big ego but was no abuser.

      And before Celibidache there was Rudolf Kempe, whose reputation is unblemished, I think. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) Arguably Kempe the greatest of the Munich PO conductors.

      The Munich Philharmonic historically has not taken leaps of faith with untested young conductors.

      • torches and pitchforks says:

        By all accounts, Kempe was a very decent person, but he was GMD over 40 years ago. Among other things, he allowed the hiring of the first woman wind player in the orchestra, oboist Susan Goetting, by insisting that a blind audition be used, the first in the history of the orchestra.

  • Anson says:

    I still do not get the Makela hype. He is clearly a very talented 20-something with a potentially bright future. But I just don’t see how he can be ready for a major orchestra helm. I have not been hugely inspired by his recordings (and particularly disagreed with NL’s favorable review of Makela’s Sibelius cycle).

    Also, when you see him conduct, it is very clear that he is affecting Karajan. Rather than starting with the music and letting that lead him, he seems to be starting with conducting “styles” that he’s observed and aping them. That might make things look superficially promising, but it’s not a recipe for deep engagement with the music or transcendent performances. The kid needs to be a bit more seasoned.

  • Guest says:

    Why not Orozco-Estrada? Or Grazinyte-Tyla? Double-barrelled is good.

  • Jan says:

    Sokhiev is the most amazing conductor and person I have worked with. Now that’s a real Maestro. This title is given too easily to any person with a stick in his hand unfortunately..

  • PG Vienna says:

    Pablo Heras Casado ?

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    No other decent conductors out there? Some on the list don’t even qualify for that description.

  • MacroV says:

    Maybe Max Raimi will disabuse me of the notion, but given the CSO’s history, it is inconceivable to me that they would go for Klaus Makela, no matter how much he impressed them. The CSO has always demanded the biggest of guns. Reiner, Solti, Barenboim, Haitink/Boulez, Muti (don’t know how Martinon fits into this). They can invite Makela annually for the next 20 years, see how he develops, and maybe nab him when he’s in his 40s or 50s.

    I’m pretty sure they’re going to pull out all the stops to get Christian Thielemann, problematic perhaps on the political front but one of the few people of the demanded stature who might be available.

    • music lover says:

      If they want to hear the same 10 german symphonies over and over,again,yes.Thielemann is hardly a role model of a music director for the 21st century,especially in the US…As a guest conductor for certain rep,yes,anytime.As an innovitive music director of the 21st century,no.

  • music lover says:

    My favourites,Cannekalis,Hrusa,yes,Mäkelä,Honeck,Mälkki,Lintu,and,and….Watching and listening to at least 5 live streams per week,the surprise concert of the year: Yesterday´s Helsinki Phil live stream under Jukka Pekka Saraste.The Janacek Sinfonietta was the best i ever heard.Saraste always lays bare the inner connections of the themes,motives,rhytms…Incredibly rich and transparent textures,immaculate pacing of the climaxes, total coherence .Many things in a piece i know well i understood the first time,just by the way he shapes the phrases,and by his phrasing.He has an uncanny knack of shaping the rhetoric of musical phrases.You can still watch it on YouTube and HKO Screen.

  • Jansci says:

    Say NO to mandatory political denunciations !

  • Jansci says:

    Say NO to mandatory political denunciations!

  • Muso says:

    Are any of these commentators actual orchestral musicians? What the orchestra perceives compared to the amateur audience, is like the distance from earth to Pluto!!!

    • guest says:

      “What the orchestra perceives compared to the amateur audience”

      Regardless what the people commenting here are, who is paying the orchestra – are the orchestra members paying themselves or are they paid by the amateur audience? You forgot the taxpayer in states where arts are subsidized. As a rule, only an incredibly tiny minority of taxpayers sit in the audience, yet _all_ taxpayer are asked to support the indecent salaries of orchestra conductors. I am not saying orchestra member are paid indecent salaries.

      Don’t spit on the hand feeding you, regardless on how nekulturny you perceive it. One day, the hand might have had enough of such treatment, and slap you back instead of feeding you. If orchestra players like to bask in the sun of their own superiority, fine, but don’t forget you are not playing for yourself. If orchestras would play just for another orchestra members sitting in the audience, the halls would be empty and you would be on the dole. If you take the audience’s money, the least you could do is respect their right of opinion, regardless of misguided that opinion might be. That being said, I am of the opinion the collective hand paying the arts could do with a spot of education, at least enough for them to avoid falling for the geniuses the media touts with regularity.

  • guest says:

    What Munich shouldn’t do, is hire a conductor who has three others jobs elsewhere, offering him the opportunity to wreck all them, the fourth included. Unfortunately, this is exactly what Munich won’t do, if they take their cue from other houses.

  • guest says:

    *should read Munich will do

  • M McGrath says:

    My bet is on Klaus!

  • Fiddleman says:

    What about Andris Nelsons? I know he is committed to Boston and Leipzig until 2025 but orchestras are know to wait until the right person is available. (See the Bavarian Radio Orchestra -Simon Rattle). Nelsons has recently conducted some phenomenal concerts with the Munich Phil.