Yannick gets his own festival in Europe

Yannick gets his own festival in Europe


norman lebrecht

June 24, 2022

Remember that hubristic New York Times headline:
Yannick Nézet-Séguin Is New York’s Conductor Now

Well, the Canadian conductor has been doing his best to refute it.

Yannick is music director in Philadelphia and Montreal. He is also de facto artistic director next month of a Yannick Nézet-Séguin cycle of orchestra and chamber music at Baden-Baden, once known as ‘the Summer Capital of Europe’.

New York? Oh, New York.


  • Anthony Sayer says:

    The NYT and hubris are indissociable.

  • tet says:

    Is this yet another NL story about how Yannick is spreading himself too thin?

    Is he unique in the business, really,, in jet setting around the world?

    What’s the fixation on Yannick and his engagement calendar, because NL really cares about NY and wishes Yannick would focus entirely on the Met? It’s summer in Baden-Baden, the Met is closed for the summer anyway.

    • MWnyc says:

      As is the Philadelphia Orchestra.

      • Robin Mitchell-Boyask says:

        Actually, it has a fairly full summer season. But I again point out that, when YNS took the Met, he said he’d be able to handle 3 jobs because he’d cut back in Europe. Hasn’t happened. This Philadelphian wants an MD more committed to its orchestra.

        • Chris says:

          You are wrong because he has cut down on European engagements since his appointment at the MET. He now often only has European schedules in two waves each year — one in the Summer festival season and another sometime mid-season. And most of these are with the BRSO, COE, and Rotterdam. Less LPO, VPO, BPO, OAE, and many other orchestras he previously worked with.

          Do you really think that it’s a negative for his home orchestras that he has long term engagements with orchestras outside the US? I doubt Philippe Tondre would have join Philly if he hand’t work with YNS through the COE in the past. And would European venues invite Philly over for tour if their MD doesn’t have an international profile?

        • Tiredofitall says:

          Let’s be honest here, YNS is a principal guest conductor a the Met. He just has the title and salary of an MD. Conducting x number of times during a season does not a music director make.

        • Barry says:

          He is still probably conducting as much as, if not more than any of the post-Ormandy conductors in Philadelphia. Next season, he’s not on the calendars for the BPO, VPO or BRSO. He’s appeared with the latter just about every season for years. So there may be some cutting back on working with European orchestras.
          Having said that, I do sometimes wonder why he doesn’t cut back even further on guest conducting to give himself a mental and physical break. He still spends multiple weeks with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. I respect his commitment to these orchestras, but he does occasionally have to cancel performances.

    • Emil says:

      Also, he’s been doing it for years? He’s recorded what, 5/7 operas of his Mozart cycle there, and he’s already done a COE Beethoven cycle there too. And not to worry, he’s also doing the major Montréal events – Festival de Lanaudière, Concert au pied du Mont-Royal, etc.

  • Mary says:

    “Baden-Baden … ‘the Summer Capital of Europe’.”

    I’m guessing the marketing department rejected “the Bathhouse of Europe”?

  • msc says:

    I understand that he is planning to vacation in both Walla Walla and Bora Bora.

  • MWnyc says:

    “Yannick Nézet-Séguin Is New York’s Conductor Now”

    That headline (as the article basically stated) was premised on the notion that the Philadelphia Orchestra is a New York orchestra because it plays four to six times a year at Carnegie Hall. [eyeroll]

  • Kman says:

    The city so nice, they named it twice: Baden-Baden

    • Commenter says:

      In PDQ Bach’s time it was known as Baden-Baden-Baden (he was born there in 1807 according to Peter Schickele), so it actually seems to be slowly losing historical importance in the music world.

  • Paul Wells says:

    You know we’ll read this stuff even if you don’t torque the hell out of it, don’t you.

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    Two questions –

    1) Has the centre of musical gravity in the USA moved away from New York?

    2) So how good is Yannick? For British audiences he is appearing at the BBC Proms with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Works include a Florence Price symphony.

    Answers to both questions would be appreciated.

    • Chris says:

      His upcoming Beethoven recordings w/ the COE will be a great companion to their earlier cycle with Harnoncourt. His Baden-Baden cycle last year (from which these recordings are produced) was the most convincing cycle I have heard in recent years.

    • Herr Forkenspoon says:

      Any answer would be an opinion, and we all know what they are worth.

    • Sophia Baldaracci says:

      He is very good, in a couple of years with more experience he will be better, like Solti or Muti. Yes, he is so good that the PROMS will have him, why not? As for your other question, yes, everything is changing, it has been even before the pandemic. Germany has for instance more than 80 opera houses, producing a year 7,000 performances, not to mention the regular theaters for concerts and such. Read article in The New Yorker of June 13th if you have a chance. These artists need to go where things are happening. Unfortunately, supporting classical music, and or opera here is not the priority. The very Philadelphia Orchestra, even before Yannick, started going to China in the 70s to save it from bankruptcy, PBS has a very good program about it. It takes years of hard work and dedication to study Music, and after a musician graduates he/she will be lucky to find a job for $30,000 a year!!!!! But a football/baseball/golf etc etc player is making how much a year???? It is a matter of priorities, and it is only getting worse. Many public high schools across the country are no longer offering music in their Art programs, smaller orchestras are closing, but they never remove sports from schools do they? Did I answer your questions?

  • hervé says:

    Who is Yannick ? Do you know him that well that you can call him by his first name ? Or is it an American custom ?
    Show him some respect, please.

  • BP says:

    As far as I can tell, Nézet’s has only one program for the 22-23 season (not counting summer) outside of his three director jobs, a Nutcracker for Christmas in Rotterdam. So he has in fact absolutely cut back on his engagements in Europe.

  • Springbeg says:

    Overrated……but hardly alone in that regard.

  • MacroV says:

    He’s not New York’s conductor in late July. Nor was Levine, who spent a decent amount of time at Salburg, Bayreuth, and Verbier, if memory serves (and before that, at Ravinia).

  • Harpist says:

    In all fairness, he jumped in when the VPO needed someone on short notice to replace Gergiev in February and had at the same time opening of Don Carlo and I think also concerts with the Phily SO in Carnegie…

  • Tamino says:

    Yannick here again exposes the major structural problem in the classical music business.

    The Agencies.

    Why are there a few who are terribly overstretched and do most of their jobs half prepared on one arse cheek and jet lagged?
    Because of the agencies.

    Have a request for a conductor coming in at an agency?
    Are you going to sell the just as talented conductor who is established with a moderate fee in the market, or are you pulling out the calendar of your most expensive horses, and squeeze in whatever is humanely possible, without killing them immediately (later is ok)?
    We know the answer. An agencies cut depends directly on the established fee of the conductor.

    Focus on a few, who maximise the agencies profit. Add a few kick back schemes here and there to lure the promoters – who spend money that’s not their own – but who still wonder how the star conductor can possibly do a good job under the load, and there we have the cartel.

    We all know the results. The Nelsons and Yannicks and Dudes who jetset from gig to gig, hyped, overworked and understudied, but money makes the world go round.

    Granted, you need great orchestras for that to work, who can produce decent results without much conducting. And the priced horses must be nice guys, because if an orchestra doesn’t get a challenging superior interpretation to work on, then at least they want to have a fun/pleasant time with a “price winning horse” on the podium. And that’s why Yannick, and the Dude, and Nelsons, are liked.

    Just think about all the recordings these guys made recently. Barely anything outstanding there, mediocre is the standard, and if something memorable happens, then what is their actual share, and not the orchestra’s? Shame, and what a waste. But recordings with top labels are good for the fee… go back to Start… take your fee…

    • JB says:

      I get your point, but there are multiple agencies and if Baden-Baden and the COE need a conductor, why don’t they call another agency than the one of YNS ? Do ticket sales depend so much on a star conductor, knowing that YNS isn’t even the biggest name in the business ?

    • soavemusica says:

      Yannick Nézet-Séguin is also an SJW-activist, not too busy to give a political lecture to the audience.

      To those, that is, who can still attend his shows.

      Herbert von Karajan was a Music Director of the World. How is that legacy reviewed today?

  • Hal says:

    Following a week at Saratoga concluding the Philadelphia Orchestra residency, they are off to Europe from Aug.25- Sept. 9.
    Edinburgh and Lucerne Festivals as well as concerts in Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin, Paris and concluding with 2 nights at the BBC Proms in Royal Albert Hall.

  • Stephan von Cron says:

    Probably much better that he spends less time at the Met, as he is simply a very mediocre opera conductor. He might do well to practice in smaller European houses, although they might be unhappy with the results.

    • Tamino says:

      Agreed. Fabio Luisi would have been the much better conductor, definitely as far as opera is concerned. But he is not the extrovert YNS is, so they decided otherwise in NY.