French conductor scraps Beethoven cycle

French conductor scraps Beethoven cycle


norman lebrecht

June 08, 2023

Scherzo reports that Seville has called off a cycle of Beethoven symphonies next month because the conductor Marc Soustro is unhappy. The statement issued by the orchestra management is decidedly peculiar:

‘The decision is motivated by various reasons. On the one hand, the request of its Principal and Artistic Director, maestro Marc Soustrot, in charge of directing all the concerts, who has notified the institution that currently the appropriate artistic conditions for its celebration do not exist, nor does he feel physically fit enough to face the challenge of this Festival. According to Soustrot, his current professional and life situation prevents him from making that effort, since he needs “a fully functioning orchestra to be able to express myself artistically at the highest level that I have always tried to achieve”, and he asserts that “to be consistent with my position, I have decided not to participate in the Beethoven Festival”.

‘After a long process of meditation, the 72-year-old French maestro has also explained that, after a dozen concerts canceled due to the staff strike, “the effort that this Festival requires from the musicians and its director has lost its meaning ”.

‘The Directorate-Management of the Royal Seville Symphony Orchestra, after consulting with the Board of Directors of the ROSS, has decided to attend to the request of Maestro Soustrot, also taking into account that the uncertainty generated in the public during the last staff strike It has caused that the minimum capacity necessary to guarantee its economic viability has not been achieved”.

‘As has happened with previously canceled concerts, the ROSS guarantees the return of tickets and season tickets purchased.’

Go figure.


  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Sounds like he’s fed up with dealing with the ultra-amateur music scene in that beautiful city.

  • kundry says:

    An orchestra with a long history of wrong decisions and crises. One simple solution – close it.

    • M Alexander says:

      Do you really think that’s a positive move in the current climate?

    • Myopi Nion says:

      Please, don’t make these comments lightly, it can hurt a lot of people. The mere fact that this publication is in English and outside of Spain can be useful to the people that actually want to damage the orchestra. And there are several of them out there. Now, the author’s suspicion that there is more that meets the eye is correct. Certainly many bad decisions have been taken, but mostly by politicians and management that don’t see the benefit of a good orchestra in this city. But maestro’s Soustrot decision is very confusing; cancelling a project he conceived with just a few weeks notice, making a little concession
      about his physical health, but largely blaming it on the artistic temperature of the orchestra? Meaning the musicians? Vaguely phrased of course. But that’s what most are being led to believe, and I assure you, that’s not the truth. If a conductor decides to come to Sevilla is precisely for the opposite reason, being far away from the main stages of Europe.
      Maestro Soustrot didn’t join the musicians effort to better their working conditions and elevate the overall quality of this institution, the same things he says he strives for. Instead, he did the opposite, joining forces with the people that don’t care about it.
      Go figure.

    • WGJM says:

      Kundry what exactly do you have against this orchestra? Were you rejected at some point or is it that you simply don’t like it?

    • Andrew says:

      Probably it would be better to have a profesional management. I heard the orchestra a while ago when I visited Seville and it sounded great.
      It looks more like bad management to me.

  • trumpetherald says:

    Played under him….Really a pain in the ass. Always whining,complaining,but finishing rehearsals always early,because he had nothing to say.

  • Genius Repairman says:

    If Beethoven is scrapped maybe they could play some Raff symphonies instead.

  • msc says:

    When handed oranges….

  • GFL says:

    Another Frenchman surrenders

  • Tired of this bullshit says:

    He is the one who programmed to conduct 9 Beethoven Symphonies in 5 days. The strike didn’t affect the orchestra’s shape, ‘cause they have rehearsed constantly (Mahler 7, Mahler 10, Petrushka…).

    But HE IS 72.

    And the strike was clearly announced till mid June, not July.

    Oh yeah, let’s not forget that a Beethoven Marathon in the middle of July, when the average temperature is 45 Celsius degrees, won’t most likely have a huge following, because simply people will go to the beach.

    But then, why not putting the blame on the orchestra musicians?

    It’s definitely easier than taking responsibility for your own mess.

    And no, closing an orchestra is not a solution. It’s just giving up.

  • Andrew Trechak says:

    Always nice to have Beethoven given a rest now and then.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Yes. I’d die in a ditch for Beethoven but there are too many of such cycles in the repertoire and it’s time to broaden the scope of musical programs. And no, not more Bruckner and Mahler.

      How about a Sibelius cycle?

  • WGJM says:

    I thought this was a serious page but judging from some of the comments made by people without all the information it obviously is not.

  • MR. GEG says:

    Sounds like a narcicisst and should retire. Beethoven cycles are a shot in the arm for any struggling org.

  • tramonto says:

    The statement suggests that the relationship may be really frayed and might be best to end it. It struck me as odd they’d disclose the physical fitness issue and emphasize his age. Don’t know if he wanted them to say that or was even aware they would, but if an organization broadcasts to the wide public that the leader is just not *physically* up to it, that’s bound to lower confidence/morale.

  • Mr. Ron says:

    There is too much Beethoven routinely played. He was great but let’s move on.

  • Notas Altas says:

    How easy it is to blame everything on the musicians of the ROSS. Are they responsible for the financial running of the orchestra, the job of looking for sponsorship/ funding, the planning of the season’s programme, choosing conductors and soloists, organising other activities for when the Maestranza Theatre won’t allow them to use the stage? NO! The musicians’ job is solely to perform to the best of their abilities as they have always done and continue to do, albeit in increasingly difficult conditions. This makes even more lamentable the fact that, owing to a complete apathy and incompetence on the part of the administrations, the musicians have been forced to take it on themselves to hold a strike in order to try to secure a future which will put the ROSS back on the map as an orchestra of international standing, which surely a city like Seville deserves, but thus placing themselves in the firing line from politicians ,their conductor, some members of the public and the newspaper critics( who for some unfathomable reason seem to revel in inciting hatred towards the ROSS). So come on- let’s not continue to make scapegoats out of the musicians! It’s high time those who are really in control take responsibility for their actions and sort out this ridiculous mess.

  • Mr. Ron says:

    1. Beethoven is great.
    2. But many people in classical music give the impression that he is the only one. He is not. Many seem to put on Beethoven or play him to show what is classical music to “savages”. That is wrong.
    3. Blanket playing of Beethoven is bad.
    4. Stop the cycles, please, unless you really have something to add (which I doubt);
    5. Blanket playing of Beethoven hurts many other deserving composers.