Franz Welser-Möst calls time on Wagner’s Ring

Franz Welser-Möst calls time on Wagner’s Ring


norman lebrecht

May 31, 2023

The Cleveland conductor has decided that next month’s revived cycle at the Vienna Opera will be his last.

At 63, he says: ‘Life consists of many farewells… The complete ‘Ring’ is to every conductor what Mount Everest is to mountaineers. It’s a unique peak that lures you and promises the greatest joy, but at the same time it poses extreme challenges.’

Good call.


  • RW2013 says:

    I saw Peter Schneider conduct that very production at the age of 78.

    • Singeril says:

      Schneider conducted Wagner so well. He truly “got it”. But nowhere does it say that FWM is retiring the Ring because of “age”. It could be for many reasons.

    • Emil says:

      And we just saw Barenboim not conduct it at the age of 79. It Is a heavy order for anyone of any age. And many treat it as an Olympiad – a feat of endurance, stature, ego. Good on Welser-Möst for recognizing he doesn’t need that.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      And Manuel Rosenthal conducted a complete Ring in Seattle aged 82.

      • Kathleen says:

        As did Armin Jourdan, more than once. Not sure of his age then.

        • Don Ciccio says:

          Alas, Armin Jordan passed away when he was only 74 years old. In fact, he even cancelled some of the Ring cycles that he was scheduled to conduct in Seattle.

    • Franz says:

      I hope your hearing was still good.

    • Tristan says:

      and he did it extremely well – also in Bayreuth

  • J Barcelo says:

    Conducting just a 45 minute symphony or a one-act opera is stressful enough that I realized that conducting wasn’t for me. I cannot imagine the enormous amount of mental and physical energy it takes to conduct the Ring. To have a clear vision of the whole shebang and then sit there for 16 hours without losing concentration takes superhuman powers. Maybe that’s why so many performances are just routine and why there are so few really great Rings on record.

    • Warrick Snowball says:

      Perhaps having to watch what’s happening on the stage in the latest ‘modern’ production evokes a ‘why bother’?

  • Hercule says:

    Not surprising. He’s easily bored.

  • trumpetherald says:

    Come on! Franz rises up at 5am, starting each day with a long walk,and he is an avid mountain climber. He is unbelievably fit and trim like a 40 year old!

    • Nothingham says:

      I for one hope that he retires at an age where he can still take advantage of his great health and enjoy life

  • Roger Rocco says:

    As a professional tubist, I had the great opportunity to perform “The Ring” in Seattle. Even though I will never have another personal performance, the musical experience lives on in my mind. It will be the same for the maestro!

  • TITUREL says:

    If one watches video of Solti conducting in the recording sessions for the Decca Ring, it’s like watching a great athlete or martial arts master. How he could expend that much physical capital over the 15 hours (plus retakes) is a marvel, whether you like his interpretation or not. Wolfgang Wagner apparently said, of Solti’s sole Bayreuth engagement, he’d never seen a conductor expend so much energy without regard for pacing himself, or the players and singers.

  • Laurie says:

    I dislike off the cuff negative insinuations by “critics”, who are too lazy to put to paper their reasoning and thoughts.

    Franz Welser-Most is a thoughtful conductor who starts studying a score sometime two years before a performance. He never walks to the podium unprepared. If he did, the musicians, who he greatly respects, would have no time for him.

    Every artist has the right to decide their next challenge and walk away, with their head held high, when they feel the time is right.

    Bravo Franz….we know that you have thousands of score to choose from and look forward to your next endeavor. With respect.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    I don’t think anybody expected it thirty years ago, but he is one of the great musicians of our time, and he has so much repertoire else to focus on. Good on him.

  • Kenny says:

    If I remember correctly, which is unlikely at this point, Bruno Schlesinger [Walter] conducted his last cycle in about 1929, saying it was “a work for young people.” He would have been 53 then.