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Report: Gergiev to be chief conductor in Munich

Treat with care.

The appointment has been headlined in the city’s evening paper, but it is jumping the gun. All one can say at this stage is that Munich would like Gergiev to succeed Lorin Maazel at the Philharmonic in 2015. It has set after him in hot pursuit.

Personally, I don’t rate their chances. If Gergiev took the job, he would have to leave the LSO where he is presently happy. He does not speak much German.

Apart from a handsome fee and outstanding players, there is little reason for him to take Munich – especially when the Berlin Philharmonic is vacant.


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  1. Alexander Hall says:

    Only the utterly naive would discount the possibility that there is method in this kind of madness. “Well, you see, the Munich Phil are very interested in me and I must say I’m tempted, so are you going to give me everything I want so that I can stay in London?” This is what some conductors have done in the past: play one band off against the other, upping the stakes all the time. Gergiev may be entirely innocent of the charge that he’s testing the water and assessing his market value, but you know what they say – no smoke without fire.

    • Lord Montague says:

      It’s called free market and it’s what the business has deteriorated into. Names are everything, music is little.

      • Yeah that’s right – orchestras and conductors positioning themselves, driving a hard bargain, playing political games, trying to get the best deal possible, thinking only of names and not music: definitely a modern phenomenon.


  2. Petros Linardos says:

    Dreams, politics, money and the star system aside, I don’t understand why Gergiev would be a good fit for the Munich Philharmonic. I think of their strengths as the german romantics. By contrast, I think of Gergiev as one of the greatest conductors for Russian music, but not as great for other repertoie. Am I missing something?

    • Check out all the concerts he did with the MPhils.
      He is very much admired here in Munich.

    • Petros – Munich is one the (maybe even *the*) wealthiest cities in Germany, they spend a lot of money on culture so there is a lot going on, theater, opera, concerts, exhibitions, especially for a city which isn’t all that big (population 1.2 million or so). But they also have a deep-seated “second city” cultural inferiority complex so they have a tendency to just buy the biggest names they can get.

      A good example for this was the appointment of Levine as Celibidache’s successor. Celibidache rarely conducted other orchestras, he spent a lot of time with the orchestra, rehearsed endlessly and significantly raised the playing standards and the musical profile of the MP. For Levine, it was just a secondary fly-in job where he could make a lot of money on the side. The orchestra maintained its high playing standards but lost their special focus and profile, so they sank back into just being one of many very good German orchestras.

      For Gergiev, it will be a secondary fly-in job, too, and he is known to fly in at the last minute a lot. Gergiev is an interesting and exciting guest conductor, but as MD for this orchestra, I think he is a terrible choice. But maybe I am wrong, we will see…

  3. Elizabeth Owen says:

    I do hope that this is just a silly rumour. He has the best band in the land and lots of money and would his representatives at CAMI be so silly?

    • Whether or not he has the best band in the land (discuss – I take those Gramophone polls with plenty of salt) they don’t always sound like it with him wav(er)ing at them. Maybe things are not all as sweet as they’d like us to think there.

      • Alexander Hall says:

        The fact remains that outside the Russian repertoire in which he is second to none he just cannot convincingly conduct the German classics. He treated each of the Mahler symphonies in his recent cycle as a concerto for orchestra and the Brahms cycle in the autumn of 2012 was turgid and uninspiring (the New York critics thought much the same).

  4. Alexander Hall says:

    Latest reports in the German media – including the respected quality paper Süddeutsche Zeitung – suggest that this is already a done deal, with the matter being laid before the City Council for final approval next Wednesday. The chances are that the LSO will have to bid farewell to him after 2015. Perhaps then they will find someone who can conduct the German classics convincingly.

  5. Living in Munich I know they would not release such information if there had not been enough prediscussions on this. Not to forget, Gergiev works very often with the MPhils.
    If he is coming to town we are just a bunch of mega-lucky people.

  6. Schöne Müllerin says:

    After all, Munich is a good place to live; and the argument that he speaks little German – the musicians speak English ….like almost everybody under 50 in Germany. Or do they talk Russian at the LSO?
    He is a great Maestro and we will follow him wherever he goes.

  7. Victoria Johnson says:

    He wouldn’t speak German any better if he went to Berlin. He also conducted the Munich Phil last year on the highly acclaimed Shostakovich cycle, without any apparent linguistic problems. It seems to be pretty much a done deal according to German news.

  8. Is there a possibility they would like to try to usher Gergiev in sooner? It seems early to finalize and announce such a decision.

  9. Gergiev is a good conductor, however, high in demand and his schedule is already more than full. How is he supposed to fill the role of chief conductor for the Munich Phil???? He will be in Munich for a few weeeks, maybe on tour with the orchestra every 2 – 3 years, but that is it. If the orchestra expects a substantial recording contract, this will definitely not happen, not with Gergiev or any other highly esteemed conductor. The orchestra actually needs a chief conductor “in residence”, who works intensively with the orchestra and builds a close relationship.
    Celibidache accomplished this, Kempe was also working in this direction, Levine had no time and Maazel is in Munich for a few weeks per season to “fill the gap”. The orchestra is making the same mistake again: a big name instead of building a relationship with substance. A good deal for CAMI !!!!!

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