Two fingers to the conductor who walked out on us

Two fingers to the conductor who walked out on us


norman lebrecht

September 14, 2022

The Vienna Symphony Orchestra does not mask its feelings about former music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada who quit in the middle of last season. Here’s how they announce his replacements.

The 22-23 season of the Wiener Symphoniker promises outstanding concert experiences. After our chief conductor resigned from his post prematurely, his concerts gave been filled with top-class musicians. We look forward to:

Christoph Eschenbach conducts Johannes Brahms’ “A German Requiem”.

Ingo Metzmacher takes over the musical direction of Franz Schmidt’s oratorio “The Book with Seven Seals”.

Omer Meir Wellber could be won for the European tour including two concerts in Vienna.

Pablo Heras-Casado interprets Brahms’ 1st and 2nd symphony with us – in Vienna as well as in Salzburg, Graz, Bregenz and Baden-Baden.

Jaap van Zweden conducts Brahms’ 3rd and 4th symphonies.

Patrick Lange conducts Carl Maria von Weber’s opera “Der Freischütz”.

Petr Popelka could be won for our traditional Easter concert “Spring in Vienna”.


  • Bulgakov says:

    He really had no other sensible option but to leave mid-season. I understand that he was informed, in the middle of a tour, no less, that the orchestra had voted not to renew his contract. The vote was pushed for by Jan Nast, whose predecessor had appointed AOE. Nast could never quite conceal his – I’d say completely unfounded – disdain for AOE, even before the conductor took up the position. How could AOE stay on under these circumstances?

    • Amos says:

      Having watched most of AOE’s concerts with the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra I was always struck by not only the quality of the performances but the apparent rapport between the musicians and conductor. His insistence on complementing the ensemble and principal players after a performance seemed genuine and appreciated. When I watched a performance he led with the VPO his enthusiasm was met with a combination of indifference and the jaded arrogance of an ensemble simply putting in the time. I wonder if the Vienna Symphony musicians reacted similarly to the VPO or if the decision not to renew him was simply an administrator seizing control.
      Regardless, it appears that Andris Nelsons has offered AOE a chance to demonstrate his talents by scheduling him to lead both the BSO and Leipzig orchestra this year. If he is able to demonstrate the qualities he brought to this performance of the Mendelssohn 5th I think his career will get back on the track he was headed for:

      Based on recent performances I’ve watched from Frankfurt I wish he had stayed. I’d be interested in hearing from a member of the orchestra. I wish him nothing but the best and thank him for his part in keeping music alive during the pandemic!

      • FrauGeigerin says:

        Having played under his baton many times (first time at the beginning of his career), I think precisely ‘arrogant’ is a word that that describes him very well. I have never understood why he has had such a terrific career.

        It is my understanding that he has been appointed, without going through the full official selection process, as professor of conducting at the prestigious Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien to substitute one of the conducting professors who is retiring soon. I am sorry for the poor students who have to study with him.

        • FrauGeigerin says:

          I am talking, of course about AOE.

        • Achim Mentzel says:

          I really respect your comments, I have been reading them with interest for many years and I am very often of the same opinion as you, I would just be interested if you could name one or more living conductors, from different generations, who in your opinion have internalized the profession of conducting.

        • Amos says:

          If what you say is in fact true then he is superb at hiding it in every venue I’ve seen him in and those he is leading are equally good at hiding their displeasure. Furthermore, the 50 or so concert videos I’ve watched, with and without an audience, and video of him leading student orchestras also belie such a characterization. It seems to me when an entire orchestra, in this case I’m referring to the one in Frankfurt, responds enthusiastically both during and after a performance to a conductor the way they did to AOE it is inconsistent with the arrogance you allude to. I recall one instance after a performance when he uncharacteristically forgot to acknowledge the contribution of the Principal clarinet. Someone immediately alerted him, he expressed a mea culpa, asked everyone to be seated, asked the player to stand and I failed to detect a trace of animosity. Perhaps the presence of a camera magically transforms him into a warm and collegial person but I seriously doubt it.

          • Guest says:

            That was at the end of a fine performance of Mendelssohn’s Reformation symphony:
            The warm response of the orchestra to him is obviously genuine (at about 32.00 on).
            I take it that Frau Geigerin was not one of the players!

          • Amos says:

            I meant to add a PS to her saying that while I understand her wish to remain anonymous why wouldn’t she let us know the name of the orchestra and recount the incidence(s) in which he demonstrated arrogant behavior? If she indeed played with him early in her career it was likely 10-20 years ago and I doubt anyone would identify her based on the contents of the post. I sincerely hope I’m wrong but I can’t help wondering if there is still lingering resentments that despite living in Vienna and clearly speaking fluent German that as a native of Columbia he is viewed as as not only not one of us by both orchestras but something much worse.
            Last, in addition to his engagements this year in Boston and Leipzig he is also returning to Frankfurt. Would the latter ask him back after departing last year if he is an arrogant fraud as claimed by FrauG and Musikliebhaber?

        • Amos says:

          I don’t mean to belabor the point but after watching this performance of the Brahms Second Symphony I fail to detect even one moment that suggests arrogance or anything but exceptional and collegial music-making. I can only hope that his concerts here in Boston next month are of a similar quality:

    • Alviano says:

      The name describes the man?

    • Guest says:

      Jan Nast was orchestra director at Dresden in 2010 when Fabio Luisi resigned as chief conductor in mid-contract:
      Different circumstances, but same management vs musical director conflict?

  • Rob says:

    What happened?

  • Alexander Hall says:

    Wellber walked out on the BBC Phil before his contract ended.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Why did he leave Houston?

    • Bayou dweller says:

      He left Houston after a very successful eight year tenure, his choice, as he wanted to focus on being closer to his family. He left an Orchestra dramatically improved and with still warm feelings towards him. The behavior of the Wiener Symphoniker towards a man who is unquestionably a good human being and considered by many (including not just a few with better reputations than the Wiener Symphoniker) to be an excellent musician in the way that they did reflects more on them than on their former conductor. Perhaps the personality of Jaap will be a better fit for them… enjoy!

  • Sean says:

    His performances with the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra on YouTube have been a real delight to watch, and his rapport with the orchestra is always a striking element of each concert.

  • Guest says:

    Is it not very strange to arrange for a vote on a conductor’s renewal of contract in the first year of his five-year tenure? AOE had just completed eight years as chief conductor/music director at Frankfurt and Houston. In both cases his initial contract was extended. He was very much liked in Houston, and got on well with audiences, orchestra, and management. Judging from the many YT videos of the hr-sinfonie, the same goes for Frankfurt. What was so different about the Wienersymphoniker, or its management, or Vienna?

  • Musikliebhaber says:

    Andres Orozco-Estrada, if you watch him closely, has only two virtues, that he imitates Zubin Mehta in conducting and that he tries to flatter orchestras. Actually, as an audience, you can see that something is wrong with him, that he is not being honest. In a few years his career won’t be that great. Wellber, Heras-Casado and Lange are much more interesting options than AOE for this repertoire.