Maestros respond to Dudamel’s NY move

Maestros respond to Dudamel’s NY move


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2023

First ripples of response to the news that Dude is moving to the NY Phil:

From Alan Gilbert, last-but-one music director of the NY Philharmonic:
‘Now THIS is news that makes me happy! Thrilled for my beloved musicians of the New York Philharmonic and for NYC. Congrats all around.’

Yannick Nézet-Séguin: 👏👏👏👏👏❤️❤️❤️

Renaud Capucon: 👏👏👏👏

YujaWang: ‘n honor to be considered part of the LA Phil family and to collaborate with Gustavo Dudamel and this world-class orchestra. I cannot wait to perform Rachmaninoff’s passionate, inspiring music with you all!
Huge congratulations to Gustavo on his appointment to the New York Philharmonic!!’

Director Yuval Sharon: ‘You have made LA a richer and more vibrant place through your presence and musicianship ! Big congratulations — NYC made a perfect choice !’

Canadian conductor Jean-Philippe Tremblay: ‘Bravo my friend Gustavo!!!’

Ed Yim, head of WQXR: ‘Sooo happy for New York!’

More to come.


  • Guest says:

    According to Dudamel himself: “What I see is an amazing orchestra in New York and a lot of potential for developing something important” Now finally NY Phil might develop something important, ehh? Tells you everything about what he really thinks subconsciously.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not subconscious.

      The NY Philharmonic is easily at the bottom of the “big 10” American orchestras. The orchestra is a microcosm of the city: a cantankerous collection of big egos without a unified sound or cohesive vision. Maybe it’s gotten marginally better during JVZ’s tenure. But Alan Gilbert’s stuffy failure didn’t help matters. No “maestro” has been able to make any substantive progress there in years: Mehta, Masur, Maazel, Gilbert, or JVZ.

      I’d say this is a step-down from LA, where at least the weather is good (and really so is the orchestra).

      Deborah Borda should also try to expand her rolodex, but I guess, at least at this point, it’s too late. I suppose it will be comfortable for both of them.

      It’s hard to believe we’re still talking about Dudamel. I acknowledge his talents, but the limitations are well known at this point. I think he’s a better fit for LA than NYC. Just give the musician a year before the complaints start rolling in.

      • Tristan says:

        It’s never been in the league of Chicago (with Reiner, Solti and Muti) or Cleveland (with Szell) or Boston with Ozawa and Nelson – good luck NY as I find Dudamel a bit overrated

      • Thornhill says:

        While I agree that the NYT is a bit of mess for various reasons, I’m going to defend Gilbert. He did a lot of innovative concerts — not just programming, but taking advantage of various performance spaces in NYC, like the Park Avenue Armory. Ticket buyers simply seemed indifferent to it. More than any other major American orchestra, they seem to want overture/concerto/symphony concerts with 19th and early 20th century war horses.

        And when it comes to that repertoire, the orchestra doesn’t offer a distinictve sound like Vienna and Cleveland that justifies such conservative programming.

        I worry a bit for Dudamel. I’m sure he’s going to want to replicate what he’s been doing at LA; I think the NY patrons are going to lose interest after a few season.

        • MWnyc says:

          I agree with you about Alan Gilbert.

        • MacroV says:

          Absolutely right. Gilbert might not have been the best interpreter of any particular composer, but he was a great institutional leader. I was disappointed he left the Philharmonic before their transition between old and new Geffen Halls; I thought he could have managed that time much more creatively. And now he’s a welcome guest conductor with a host of A-list orchestras.

        • Rudy says:

          Same thing happened to Boulez when he brought new repertoire for the orchestra.
          After him, Mehta brought things back to “normal” : boring, mediocre concerts every week…

        • JB says:

          Very good point. The NY Phil subscription concerts have the oldest audience I’ve seen anywhere in a concert hall.

          • MacroV says:

            I don’t know about old, but unadventurous. It’s the kind of audience that would (and probably did) walk out on Nielsen 4.

      • Steven Rogers says:

        “The NY Philharmonic is easily at the bottom of the “big 10” American orchestras.”

        No, no it’s not.

        • MacroV says:

          The Philharmonic is unquestionably a great orchestra, but one that has never really jelled around a certain culture – no Philadelphia Sound, CSO Brass, or Cleveland’s “chamber music.” It’s probably more a matter of organizational vision rather than the skill of the players, which is as great as that of any other orchestra. But it’s a reason why a lot of orchestras that nobody would consider to be their peer often deliver a more satisfying concert experience.

      • Rudy says:

        Unfortunately, I think that you are right. It is NOT the right orchestra or city for Dudamel.
        Let’s wait and see….

      • Don Ciccio says:

        Player by player, the NY Phil is as good as any orchestra, or at least it was last time I heard them, which admittedly was a few years ago (OK, the horns were problematic).

        The issue is with the blending and the ensemble. Actually Masur and Maazel had some success with this, though none of them was able to tame the brass in the acoustics of the Avery Fisher Hall . But if one listened to them the few times that they played at Carnegie Hall, especially wtih Masur, you would have heard progress in this area.

      • Sisko24 says:

        I disagree with your sentence, “…No “maestro” has been able to make any substantive progress there in years: Mehta, Masur, Maazel, Gilbert, or JVZ…”. That seems wrong particularly in regard of Maestros Mehta and Masur.

        Kurt Masur came in and with his German gravitas and stopped the NY Phil from sounding like a bunch of people who didn’t like each other much and wanted to do everything they could to drown each other out and ‘step all over’ their colleagues’ playing. One big problem was he lacked a larger repertoire, particularly with regard to American composers. He advocated for a reinstallation of a pipe organ in Avery Fisher Hall-now Geffen Hall-(still unmet) and was a regular presence in New York’s cultural and other life.

        Mr. Mehta was likewise a presence in New York’s cultural scene taking the orchestra to play at New York City venues where the Philharmonic had not considered-nor been invited-to perform at heretofore.

        One of Mr. Dudamel’s challenges will be to make the NY Philharmonic as ‘ever present’ and as desired a cultural participant in New York as the LA Philharmonic seems to be in LA. That is an extremely tall order for any music director of the NY Philharmonic. Only ‘Lenny’ achieved that and he may have been the ‘lightning caught in a bottle’ which NY needed then but might not have now.

      • Jobim75 says:

        Just consider the commute between NY and Paris compared to LA plus a few suitcases of dollars and you ‘ll have the key…

    • MWnyc says:

      In the context of the article, it was pretty clear he was talking about programs like Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, the Sistema-style scheme he started up in L.A. and which doesn’t yet have a real equivalent here.

    • Jobim75 says:

      Good reading between the lines from guest, maybe he’s starting to think he’s the genius of our time…Gilbert and Zweden were everything but memorable, but not sure Dudamel print will be so deep. He’s a very good technician, i give him that, but i was never emotionally taken by his performance or especially carried away by his musical ideas. I found him a bit too serious in cross over, except latin music, and not deep enough where it matters, i cannot feel any spirit , thought behind the readings….he was for me at first a “hair conductor” , i got a better opinion since, but still no cd I kept in my collection…. listen to his DGG Dvorak’s album to realize there’s s not much there to come back to….and the Systema from which a career was far from spotless….but who am I to say…

    • Rudy says:

      A narcicists’ opinion, perhaps ??
      Is Dudamel familiar with the Boulez achievements (unsurpassed to this day) when he was the perfect conductor for this orchestra ??

  • RW2013 says:

    And what do the players think?

    • Ellen, happy with Yannick! says:

      Which players? LA or NY? According to an article in NYT, the NY players are thrilled, elated, exuberant.

      “When Dudamel appeared at the Philharmonic last spring, for a two-program Schumann symphony cycle, some players, hoping to win him over, showed up to rehearsals bearing gifts and handwritten notes. Inside his dressing room, a group of musicians gave him a bottle of the Brooklyn-made Widow Jane bourbon, telling him the Philharmonic would welcome him if he could find a way to spend more time in New York.

      “Everything comes alive with him,” said Christopher Martin, the orchestra’s principal trumpet. “Everything is as natural as breathing.””

  • another Guest says:

    the best thing abou all this is, that he is far away from Europe with this job.

    • Singeril says:

      Uhm…he’ll now be closer to Europe than he was in LA and still hanging out in that little European village called “Paris”.

  • Bob says:

    As though any big fish who dislikes Dudamel or thinks this is a bad thing is going to come out and say so publicly…

  • Timothy Hess says:

    Very happy to see Gustavo Dudamel as the next New York Philharmonic Conductor. Yannick Nezet Seguin has got to be in seventh heaven! I love Yannick Nezet Seguin! My fav!

    • Ellen, happy with Yannick! says:

      At Feb 5 Sunday matinee of PhilOrch, it was announced by Kimmel Center chairman that Yannick’s contract had been extended “until at least 2030” and that he had earned an additional title of Artistic Director.

      “The audience went wild!”

  • Samach says:

    What Zubin Mehta said decades ago:

    “A lot of us think why not send our worst enemy to the New York Philharmonic and finish him off, once and for all.”

  • EagleArts says:

    The Dude will have to compete with every great orchestra in the world at Carnegie Hall and the mighty Met Orchestra. In LA he literally had no competition in the press or symphonic concert hall. During Borda’s tenue very few touring orchestras played in Disney and most skipped LA altogether. The LA Times served as the pr agent for Dudamel. Will be interesting to see how he does in NYC!

    • Robbie Alexander says:

      He’s Latino. The new Yawkers will ‘love’ him for pc pr purposes ….

      • EasgleArts says:

        Dudamel is Venezuelan……… Puerto Ricans and Dominicans dominate in NYC. It’s not a monolithic demographic…….

        “The 2019 survey found 702,000 Dominicans in the city, compared to 685,000 Puerto Ricans. Mexicans were a distant third at 337,000, followed by Ecuadorians, Colombians and Hondurans.”

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Give it up…your notions about New York City (have you ever even been???) are way off.

  • Thornhill says:

    I hear that Lydia Tár was spotted at Disney Hall earlier in the week…

  • Karden says:

    “I hear that Lydia Tár was….”

    Knowing little about Cate Blanchette, I wonder if she ever goes to orchestral concerts, such as at the RFH or Barbican? She resides about 50 miles from London, which by LA standards (since this thread is about Dudamel, and he has lived there) is just down the road.

    As for Dudamel and the NY Phil, I remain puzzled why didn’t have more postings about Geffen Hall after its renovation? I wonder if Gustavo or other possible hires would have based their decision based on the former venue? The new Geffen apparently has resolved issues going back to the era of the 1960’s Philharmonic Hall, then Avery Fisher.

    People like Deborah Borda have raved about it, but other listeners (such as the music critic of the New Yorker and, based on certain reactions, the one at the NY Times, etc) have certain reservations. But it’s a more approachable, less stuffy looking, hall.

  • James Minch says:

    Why have any of these lightweights got these jobs?

  • Rudy says:

    I hope that he will find success there…
    I have always heard that the players are very difficult to cope with, and Boulez had huis clos rehearsals because of the lack of discipline he noticed (and was able to restore)….

  • Gustavo says:

    Dudamel was even recommended by George Lucas to conduct the opening of “Star Wars – The Force Awakens”.

    No other living conductor, except John Williams himself, has reached out to so many listeners worldwide.

  • Zach S says:

    Re: Gustavo Dudamel, NY Philharmonic New Conductor, a couple of things
    to consider. Yes, the “Golden Age” of the NY Phil was when Lenny was
    there, but the orchestra from Toscanini onward was always a first-class
    ensemble no matter who conducted. In those days, you knew you were
    listening to something special with the NY Phil. Problems occurred after
    Lenny when the NY Phil hired Pierre Boulez,a woeful mismatch, and then
    with Zubin Mehta from the LA Phil, who never quite lived up to musical
    expectations, despite all the hoopla about him at that time. I hope the
    story with Dudamel stands the test of time and has better outcomes than
    most of the NY Phil’s previous conductor choices since Lenny.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Bernstein was a marvellous interpret, no doubt, but he left the orchestra in worst shape technically than when he took over it. Listen to the recordings.

      This is something no one dares to talk about.

  • Pedro says:

    I have heard phenomenal concerts by he NY Phil and Maazel, both in the city and abroad, namely the best conducted Elektra in my life. Regarding their other conductors, Mehta was mediocre in Brahms 2 and Mahler 3, in Salzburg, and the same can be said of a Brahms 4 with Gilbert in Paris. No match for Thielemann and the Munich Phil in the same work in Brussels a few days before. My preference for NY, and any other orchestra, was Shani.

  • TNVol says:

    From Kurt Masur to this lightweight HACK in just a few years SAD!