Browsing the jobs section of das Orchester, magazine of the German orchestral sector, we were amazed by the number of vacancies advertised for concertmasters. A host of major orchestras, led by the Berlin Philharmonic, have empty seats at the front left-hand side.
They include Bamberg, Bavarian Opera, Leipzig Gewandhaus, NDR, Dresden Staatskapelle, Hamburg, WDR, Köln, Frankfurt opera and radio, DSO Berlin, RSO Berlin and more, more, more … more than two dozen at a rough count.
There are also advertisements from foreign orchestras, among them the London Philharmonic, Zurich Operaand Teatro Real Madrid. Everyone, it seems, is looking for a primus among the violins.
So why has it become so hard to find and hold onto a concertmaster? Are the incumbents taking it too easy with their job-shares? Has the work become more arduous? Is there a lack of leadership qualities in the candidates? Why are we suddenly so short of concertmasters?
Where are the concertmasters of yesteryear?