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Daniel Barenboim makes amends to concertmaster after the world ends

The BBC have published the conductor’s speech after a sweat-soaked Götterdämmerung brought the BBC Proms Ring to a triumphant end. ‘What you went through with us is something I never dreamt of and never thought possible,’ he told the audience. ‘You have brought so much silence.’


barenboim chris2

photo: Chris Christodoulou/Lebrecht Music&Arts

He offered special thanks to a veteran concertmaster, Professor Wolf-Dieter Batzdorf, who was retiring after 40 years. The conductor had a furious altercation with a concertmaster at the end of Die Walküre. This was a dignified and generous way of laying the matter to rest.

Listen here.


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  1. Paul Edlin says:

    It was a deeply special performance with so much glorious singing. There may be a new mega-international career for Heldentenor Andreas Shager who sang Siegfried with an ease than verged on the super-human.

  2. Barenboim certainly made more than amends, was very humourous, and in the end also gracious. It all ended on a wonderful note with the promenaders in the palm of his hand. British audiences are one of the best for not coughing their way through a concert!

  3. Judith Lynn says:

    The photograph is of the man who was the concert master at Götterdämmerung last night and to whom Barenboim paid tribute. But it is not the man whom Barenboim berated on Tuesday night. He was shorter, had more hair and was bearded. And I did not see him there last night. Just to be clear, the programme credits two concert masters and an associate concert master. In three evenings there was a different one each evening. I did not see Rhinegold. Touching as the speech was, the problem is not solved…what has happened to the Third Man?

    It was an amazing, unforgettable week at the Albert Hall.

    • thanks! I have adjusted the headline and text.

      • To be clear: the concertmaster at Walkire and Götterdämmerung were the same! I was at all four performances. The portly chap. ;)

        • Judith Lynn says:

          It was not the same man. I was there too and could clearly see their different faces.
          The concertmaster at Götterdämmerung was the man whose picture appears above, Wolf-Dieter Batzdorf, the taller one. The concertmaster at Die Walküre, who DB told off, was Axel Wilczok whose photo is the second in this link Both are slightly older than their photos and both were wearing glasses at the RAH. I wouldn’t describe either as portly.

    • Not to rattle the hornets’ nest again, but this man is not at all portly, either.

  4. I think you’ll find he was the same guy – there was a switch for Siegfried but that was the one sitting next to him, and quite normal to do.

    • Judith Lynn says:

      I’m sure it is not the same man – unless he shaved off his beard and grew a few inches!

      • Judith Lynn says:

        I’ve googled the names and photographs and the leader last night was, as stated, Prof Wolf-Dieter Batzdorf.
        The younger, handsome leader for Siegfried was Wolfram Brandl. And the leader for Die Walküre (under whom Barenboim’s son studied violin) who got the telling off was the associate concert master, Prof Axel Wilczok – and he was not playing last night. At first I thought that the tribute was going to be to him, saying that he’d been taken ill.

  5. As a member of the orchestra, I just want to solve the hilarious mystery of the “third man” (the one with beard, sitting No. 3): for the last evening he simply had no service, because we were 17 first violins allowing one of us taking free. The concertmaster was the same for Walküre as for Götterdämmerung, they switched for the other two evenings. In fact this isn’t very important. Thank you amazing Proms audience for the truly extraordinary concentration of listening!

    • Hi Serge – did you hear what Barenboim was shouting at Professor Wolf-Dieter Batzdorf at the end of one of the acts in Die Walküre???

    • Judith Lynn says:

      Thank you, Serge, for solving the mystery! As you say, this wasn’t important, but because it happened on stage, instead of off stage, the audience was intrigued. I’m glad the Third Man is well and there is a happy explanation!

      What was important was the whole special event with such beautiful, rich and textured playing by the whole orchestra and such glorious singing. I feel very lucky and privileged to have been there and I’m sure it will stay in my mind for ever. Many thanks to you and your colleagues.

      The enthusiasm and concentration that the proms audience has is also something something special and always impresses me.

  6. Mark Stratford says:

    Barenboim’s frenzied scheduled continues throughout August with the East-West Divan Orchestra – : intensive rehearsals and European tour. Then he’s back in Berlin for September.

    Where does he get the energy ?

    • He’s been sapping it from James Levine. Conservation of energy and all that.

    • stanley cohen says:

      His mother’s lokshen soup…

    • Antony Shelley says:

      From the music itself, can only be. In October he has a Premiere of a Rimsky opera on the 3rd, the first night of a revival of Wozzeck on the 5th, then more of these both these two on the 6,8,9,12,13, then a revival of Don Giovanni on 16 with more performances on 19, 21, 24, 25, 27, 31!!!!He has a great team around him for each of these projects, but in energy terms this is obviously a personal competition with Valery Gergiev! The Ring really was awesome last week, and Gotterdammerung for me particularly so with Andreas Schager and Nina Stemme. Bravo to the wonderful orchestra and everyone involved, including the super ROH chorus on top form! Mind-blowing.

  7. I really wasn’t impressed with Barenboim’s interpretation of Gotterdammerung.

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