an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

Festival wars: Rattle in cheap swipe at Salzburg

Trotted out to launch the Baden-Baden Easter Festival, Sir Simon Rattle could not resist a parting blow at his former hosts. ‘Easter is in many towns the time for concentrated concerts – now also in Baden-Baden. The audience is there and it is hungry (Ostern ist inzwischen in vielen Städten die Zeit für konzentrierte Konzerte – und jetzt eben auch in Baden-Baden. Das Publikum ist da. Und es ist hungrig.)

Innocuous, you might think. But Austrian and German media are reading his comments as a slight on Salzburg’s pioneering role and an attempt to cover up the shoddy deal in which the Berlin Philharmonic defected almost without notice from its former residency. Rattle’s role in that defection was complicit.

The Berlin Philharmonic’s first B-B Easter Festival opens on Saturday with a Zauberflöte directed by Robert Carsen, starring Kate Royal and Michael Nagy as Pamina and Papageno; Pavol Breslik as Tamino; Ana Durlovski as Queen of the Night. Mrs Rattle, Magdalena Kozena, is the Second Lady. Ticket prices are on a par with Salzburg, ranging from 93 euros to 310 euros.

Doesn’t sound like the hungry Easter supplicants will have any better chance of getting in than they did at Salzburg.

(Salzburg’s Easter Festival will be conducted this year and the the foreseeable future by Berlin contender Christian Thielemann.)

Here’s Simon’s video promo:

Rattle with Baden Baden director Andreas Mölich-Zebhauser.Photo: Festspielhaus Baden-Baden


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. How, precisely, are they reading it that way? Sounds perfectly inocuous in English.

  2. Tom Greenleaves says:

    Dear Mr. Lebrecht,

    You may or may not care to recall me writing to you privately in January this year, expressing my repeated bewilderment in the face of the simple factual inaccuracy of much of your reporting of the German classical music scene. I delivered a friendly and well meant warning that your sources may well not be quite so well informed on all things German as you may hope. Your answer to my Email left me with the impression that you did not take what I had written seriously. That is, of course, your prerogative. I must now, however, as a result, having read this article today, respond publicly.

    I am not, as you know, a member of the Berliner Philharmoniker and I do not play with them. I do, however, share with my British friends and colleagues in that orchestra and others around the country, a great love of both Germany and Britain and, therefore, a common, intense interest in the reporting and subsequent public perception of the musical life of the country in which we live in our native land. We are, collectively, not of the opinion that it is necessary to accept negative commentary on non-artistic matters that is not based on facts. For this reason I am bound to respond to your latest article directly.

    In reference to the end of the Berliners’ relationship with the Salzburger Osterfestspiele, you write of a “shoddy deal” and of defection. In my Email I used your earlier reporting of this matter as one of several examples of your ill-informed journalism. I wrote explicitly that you are clearly not party to the facts of this affair. The true background and details of the matter are circumstances of which you – and indeed, refreshingly, very many people – are simply not aware. There is not the remotest shame in not knowing the facts of this matter. There IS, however, shame in reporting – repeatedly – on a situation of which you simply do not possess sufficient, relevant knowledge. This journalism is that to which your term “shoddy” applies.

    Mr. Lebrecht, please read the statement from Sir Simon Rattle, just once, without any desperate desire to crowbar something sensational in between the lines for sensationalism’s sake. Please. Innocuous, one might think? Innocuous it IS, for goodness’ sake.

    A cheap swipe? This headline is not worthy of further comment.

    I have yet to understand your motivation behind reporting on matters of which you possess severely insufficient knowledge. May I respectfully suggest you restrict your journalism to topics about which you are in a position to write with factual accuracy.


    Tom Greenleaves, Principal Timpanist and Media Executive, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

    • Dear Mr Greenleaves
      It seems to me that you are in possession of one set of facts – the set put out by the media machine of the Berlin Philharmonic. I, additionally, am in possession of the various perspectives experienced by the Salzburg festivals and other organisations whic are obliged to deal with the commercial side of the Berlin Philharmonic and of its chief conductor. I report these matters to the best of my ability and without prejudice. The conduct of the Berlin Phil at Salzburg was deplorable and of its conductor equivocal. I stand by that position. Perhaps you should stick to yours, excellent player that you are in an outstanding orchestra that is not in any way tainted by such tawdry manoeuvres.
      with best wishes
      Norman Lebrecht

      • Tom Greenleaves says:

        Dear Mr. Lebrecht,

        In your own interests, please refrain from implying – again, without any knowledge of the reality – that I am reliant on information from the “media machine” of the BPh or, for that matter, any other institution. I work directly within this, relatively, very small, close-knit industry.

        Maybe you might respect the fact that I originally aired my concerns about your ill-informed reporting of German matters to you directly, in private. Maybe there was just a little truth in my concern.

        Best wishes, sincerely,

        Tom Greenleaves

  3. The trouble is Salzburg is more made up itself so I see no problem with BPO going to BadenBaden

  4. Mark Stratford says:

    Similarly, there were a lot of unfounded conspiracy theories going around when Rattle resigned from BPO.

  5. I’m looking forward to hearing Thielemann do the Rite of Spring.

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      Really? Why?

      • Alan could be ironic here. Thielemann and the Berlin Philharmonic are going to explore a very wide repertoire together that includes Bruckner Brahms Bruckner and Brahms. Party like it’s 1939!

  6. Mark Stratford says:

    >>Party like it’s 1939!

    LoL. Rattle has introduced a staggering range of works to Berlin. In particular Rameau, Bernstein’s Wonderful Town and Stockhausen’s Gruppen

an ArtsJournal blog