Exclusive: Germans dump Currentzis

Exclusive: Germans dump Currentzis


norman lebrecht

September 30, 2022

The French conductor François Xavier Roth is being announced this morning as the next Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the SWR Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart.

He replaces the controversial Teodor Currentzis whose financial connections with the Russian energy non-supplier Gazprom are causing increased discomfort in German households.

Roth, 50, is presently GMD in Cologne. He is officially due to succeed at SWR in 2025, but he may take up the baton a lot sooner.

The age of Currentzis is over.


  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    Not a big suprise Roth is certainly the most famous and recognized french conductor today. Before they chose Mäkelä he was a good outsider for the RCO also. Good choice.

  • Achim Mentzel says:

    An amazing choice, considering his Mahler 7, which he recently conducted with the orchestra. Dripping with averageness, boredom and uninspiredness. He had obvious problems coping with the work.

    • J Barcelo says:

      His recent recording of the 4th was equally dreadful. Not sure he has Mahler in his soul. But other recent recordings of French repertoire was terrific.

    • Bone says:

      I haven’t heard a Roth recording I enjoyed – in fact, I actively avoid his recordings now.
      But I understand Currentzis is not everyone’s cup o’ tea (certainly not in Germany) so I suppose this entire ordeal was inevitable.

    • trumpetherald says:

      Eastern german bull.

  • The View from America says:

    I’m sure Currentzis will have a soft landing — or perhaps a hard one considering his side hustle as a porn star … https://slippedisc.com/2019/02/the-conductor-who-shows-off-his-parts/

  • William Osborne says:

    War causes so much destruction. It inevitably leads to views that are chauvinistic and eventually racist. The fragility of culture is especially vulnerable. The history of German ethnic culture in the USA is a good example.

    Germans comprise by far the largest ethnic group in the USA both in numbers and the geographic distribution. Already in the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin, proposed that German be the official language of the USA since Germans comprised the largest language group in the country. Throughout the 19th century, there were countless German-speaking communities and German ethnic traditions were maintained and celebrated across the country. By the first half of the 20th century, however, Germany’s language and cultural heritage had almost entirely vanished from the USA.

    So what happened? After WWI, there was so much hatred directed toward Germany that no one wanted to appear to be German. Within two decades, the USA’s Germanic cultural heritage all but vanished, and WWII became the final nail in the coffin. To this day, there can be a little bit of embarrassment in the USA in saying one has a German heritage. I often get sneering looks when I say I’ve lived in Germany for 42 years.

    Were these changes justified? Of course not. German-Americans weren’t “Huns” – a racialized term used to “other” them during WWI and WWII. Hating or punishing Germans simply based on national origins was beyond absurd and caused a great deal of cultural destruction and loss in the USA.

    Japanese-Americans had it much worse during WWII. They were rounded up and put in so-called Internment Camps. They lost their land, their possessions, their history, their culture, and just about everything else. German-Americans avoided this because they were white, and because they comprised such a large part of the population. And after WWI, they had already been stripped of their identity so there was little left to attack.

    I think this history might be important to remember regarding the actions we are conducting against Russian artists. War makes people crazy. We all begin to do stupid things. We get carried away with our desire to do something.

    I can understand the deep anger toward Russia, I share it myself, but sadly, for the most part, bashing Russian artists becomes a measure of our impotence and even trends toward chauvinism and racism. Instead of using our common cultural ground as a basis to search for peace and a just resolution of this war, we use culture as another means to express hatred. Human nature at its worst. So let’s all cheer and gloat at the removal of another Russian artist. To paraphrase William Golding, humans produce hatred like bees produce honey, and I’m sure we’ll find it on full display in these comments.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      It’s worth reading Hitler’s Pianist (or whatever it’s called in English) about Ernst Hanfstaengl. Salutary reading, particularly the treatment his family’s New York photo and art gallery received just after WWI.

    • Violinophile says:

      Naturally, we should judge Russian artists as individuals, and not reject them just for being Russian. But I think you are being naive and overly optimistic as to the prospect of “common cultural ground” leading to peace or a “just resolution”. The only “just resolution” would be Putin’s removal. Putin will never be moved by any appeal to humane or shared values. He is brutal and implacably evil, and isn’t going to change. He is also the product of the KGB, which is likewise. This is not likely to end well. It may even go nuclear. There is danger in false optimism. Also, I saw little love expressed by Russians on the whole over the death of Gorbachev – a true peace-maker. Surveys in Russia showed he was not a popular figure, which is a good barometer of the sickness in the soul of Russia as a society. You can’t just wish it away. This is a country with many thousands of missiles and nuclear warheads to this day aimed at the US and Europe. And remember that some of the Russians targeted are outright cronies or supporters of Putin. What should we do about those? Does anyone really care if Gergiev ever stands on a podium again?

      • william osborne says:

        We need to stop taking these chauvinistic, perhaps even racist, views of the Russian people. In the last few days, a few hundred thousand have left the country–not exactly an indication they stand behind Putin.

        Reaching for a common cultural ground would disempower Putin. He has embraced a weird, 19th century, Eurasian ethno-nationalism that makes him seem like a lunatic out of novel by Dostoevsky. The Russian people have not signed on to that, and like most all Eastern Europeans, they want to be part of the West, not some Eurasian fantasy of a demagogue.

        Putin does indeed need to be removed, and this begins by circumventing him and offering good options to other Russian leaders and the Russian people.

        At the same time, we need to understand that decades of US government policy toward Russia need to change. We have a long history of Russophobes setting our foreign policy ranging as far back as Zbigniew Brzezinski in the 70s under Carter who first outlined the policy of isolating Russia, to Madeline Albright under Clinton who was a determined Russophobe, to the denizens of the New American Century who served from Reagan through Bush Jr..

        We also need to see that Americans are better informed about the decades long history of this conflict. Far from being naïve, this is an effort to create informed, reasoned views that could quite possibly bring peace.

      • Tristan says:

        no one does except Gergiev might be missed with some Russian repertoire but there are others of same quality

    • Bone says:

      Your pessimism is showing.

    • Hayne says:

      Mr. Osborne,
      You are right about the hysteria against Russia. It was also mass formation. Yes, the same psychosis ginned up by relentless propaganda. Here is an easy article for people to read about treatment of Germans then.


      We see the same methods used in the West today against Russia. This also applies to other things such as the Covid madness. The brilliant Belgian Psychologist Mattias Desmet writes about this in his book “The Psychology of Totalitarianism.” This is well worth reading to understand why things are happening the way they are now.


    • Hayne says:

      Sorry, I meant hysteria against Germany in my first sentence…

    • Douglas Quigg says:

      I don’t wholly agree but I can see the point. Brilliantly written and certainly something to think about.

  • MMcGrath says:

    Great news!

  • Novagerio says:

    I’m personally glad Roth finally gets some well-deserved recognition, despite the bitter pill of bad world politics…

  • Gustavo says:


    Wasn’t he already head of the SWR orchestra 2011-2016?

    • Andreas B. says:

      yes, indeed he was – of the ‘Baden-Baden und Freiburg’ orchestra, which was merged with the other SWR orchestra in Stuttgart in 2016.

      Therefore about half of his new orchestra are just seeing their previous chief conductor return.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    He’ll be back. Just like Celibidache. And he’ll be just as controversial as ever before but in a different way.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    Somewhat surprised Roth is going to Stuttgart. If Petrenko ever leaves Berlin it would not surprise me at all if Roth followed him.

  • CGDA says:

    Currentzis is one very sad joke. He is a monument to a music industry that is clearly led by money-seeking idiots. Currentzis is no modern Stokowski, but a puffed-up nobody who produces absolute cr** !

    • Tamino says:

      I do wonder, if it’s only the money though. I think there are some weird proto-erotic desires by certain people in the industry who support him, because they project on him to be some kind of hot new ‘messiah’.

  • trumpetherald says:

    Fantastic choice!!!!