New conductor changes the pace in Berlin

New conductor changes the pace in Berlin


norman lebrecht

June 07, 2023

Joana Mallwitz has rolled out her opening season with the Konzerthausorchester.

It involves late-night Friday concerts with guest speakers, Proms events where the public are invited to walk around instead of sitting down, ‘expedition concerts’ where the conductor sits at the piano and gives an explanatory guide, and other novelties.

It’s quite a shake-up for Berlin.

Read more here.


  • Gustavo says:

    OK, new formats…

    But what about the content?

  • Nothingsshaking says:

    No it is not a shake-up for Berlin. These all have been done before. And I really wouldn’t be so optimistic especially with this orchestra under her.

    • Tick-Tock says:

      Could not agree more! Ivan Fischer did all this and more, but for some reason Mr Lebrecht never saw it fit to research that and not give this lady headlines she clearly does not deserve. Now the ludicrous thing would be to say that she can be measured to Ivan Fischer as a conductor, but I also wonder why he was not given the same kind of publicity on slipped disc when he was in charge of the same orchestra, because he introduced many groundbreaking ideas which Mallwitz is following. Still, let’s see if she can make this orchestra a fraction of the quality it had under Fischer.

  • Music Lover says:

    Female conductors are pouring out last few years. Is this a new trend? Where have they all been ?

    • Tick-Tock says:

      They have been never considered because they were never good enough, until the so called equality movement appeared. Now we must put up with female conductors regardless of their talent, because in my view there are so many male conductors who would have made a better music director than this lady. Equality is not measured with quality, clearly.

      • henry williams says:

        what about female racing drivers. there are some

      • Alexy says:

        Have you been to her concerts?
        What you say is true for some of the female conductors, but I played with Mrs Mallwitz, and I consider her as one of the best conductors of her generation. Good musician, good technique and intelligent. Nice rehearsals and great engagement and flexibility during concerts. I see it as a great catch for Konzerthausorchester, based on quality and not equality movement and wish them good luck together.

        • Tick-Tock says:

          Yes, I have been to her concerts and especially to her rehearsals. It’s nothing special – it’s just competent, keeps it easy, nothing deep and is more interested in keeping everybody happy without really constructing anything of substance in the long term. She certainly does not understand how to build a sound of an orchestra or finely tune and balance the orchestra properly, and by that I don’t mean just saying “less” or “more”. I am sure she kept you happy, but that is not a sign of talent.
          In any case, you are right when you compare her to other female conductors, she is better than most of them, but when you compare Mallwitz to the leading male conductors of her generation she does not even begin to enter the first 20. That’s my point.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Equality of outcomes is very different to equality of opportunity. Whether that applied in this case I really cannot say.

      • Passione123 says:

        It seems to me that unless you’ve spent a considerable amount of time both studying conducting and actually working with an orchestra for years your opinion about anyone’s value as a conductor is useless.
        It takes an extraordinary amount of courage and dexterity to swim the shark filled waters of the orchestra world. Especially for marginalized people. I’d advise you to hold your tongue please.

    • Jerome Hoberman says:

      They’ve been there all along. Only, in the past, spurious reasons have always been found not to appoint them.

  • caranome says:

    “Proms events where the public are invited to walk around instead of sitting down.” Is this like baseball game where people can get up go to toilet, get a hotdog, eat peanuts n throw the shells on the floor while yacking away? To get back to the common folk to make the music/experience more accessible?

    • Guest says:

      Well, yes, promenade concerts have always, since the eighteenth century, been a way to give the “common folk”, as you snobbishly put it, access to good music performed by good musicians.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      In the 19th century, it was the wealthy nobility in their box seats who behaved in the way you described, snacking and chatting their way through concerts. Not all the nobility, of course: Beethoven’s patrons, for instance; but most of the nobility were there to be seen and heard, more than to listen and be moved.

    • Jan says:

      NEVER in many years of concert going at the Royal Albert Hall have I witnessed such moronic behaviour!

  • Jerome says:

    It is nothing new, we had all this. Mostly PR and marketing. What I miss mostly today is an inner awarness and depth. Thats why I go through classical music now with the old dedicated Maestros. She has to go her path as all others. Wish her well.

  • Mr. Ron says:

    It’s a nice story, in German though (which I can read).

  • Mr. Ron says:

    Here is a brief biography of her life.

    Born in 1986 in Hildesheim, Germany (near Hanover), a small city of about 100,000. Studied violin and piano at a very early age. First conducted in Heidelberg later in Nuremberg. Mostly has conducted opera. According to Wikipedia: ” Mallwitz is the first female conductor to be named chief conductor of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, founded in 1952, and the first female conductor to be named chief conductor of any Berlin orchestra.” The KO orchestra, according to Wikipedia, has had some very good conductors. “Kurt Sanderling was the longest-serving chief conductor of the orchestra, from 1960 to 1977. Subsequent chief conductors have been Günther Herbig, Claus Peter Flor, Michael Schønwandt (1992–1998), Eliahu Inbal (2001–2006), Lothar Zagrosek, and Iván Fischer.”

    Good luck to her.

  • Gustavo says:

    Btw, I’ve experienced people walking around during a piano recital at La Scala (stalls)…

  • MMcGrath says:

    Everything she’s involved in turns to gold. Nurnberg. Frankfurt. Salzburg. London. She is a breath of fresh air. Much of the establishment and famous names can go packing! She excites. She reexamines. She ignites job. She brings energy where others bring status and tedium.