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Boulez and 160 maestros join public appeal to stop orchestra merger

An impassioned op-ed in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung today call for a halt to the forced merger between the southwest radio orchestra in Stuttgart and its more adventurous rival in Baden-Baden (where Pierre Boulez has a home).

The petition is an extraordinarily public outburst in the private, consensual world of German orchestra management. Public demonstrations are planned tomorrow in Baden-Baden and elsewhere. The SWR boss, Peter Boudgoust, is being depicted as the archetype bureaucratic philistine.

Here’s the list of signatories (more maestros than you’ve ever seen on one sheet since Ronald Wilford gave up active management):

David Afkham
Guido Ajmone-Marsan
Gerd Albrecht
Marc Albrecht
Alain Altinoglu
Stefan Asbury
Moshe Atzmon
Roland Bader
Hermann Bäumer
Serge Baudo
George Benjamin
Hans Michael Beuerle
Herbert Blomstedt
Pieter-Jelle de Boer
Fabrice Bollon
Ivor Bolton
Pierre Boulez
Martyn Brabbins
Alexander Briger
Sylvain Cambreling
Carmen Maria Cârneci
Robert Casteels
Friedrich Cerha
Gabriel Chmura
Myung-Whun Chung
David Robert Coleman
Denis Comtet
Teodor Currentzis
Joshard Daus
Thomas Dausgaard
Dennis Russell Davies
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Jacques Delacôte
Andreas Delfs
Kasper de Roo
Jean Deroyer
Christoph von Dohnányi
Klaus Donath
Charles Dutoit
Christoph Eberle
Sian Edwards
Titus Engel
Roger Epple
Peter Eötvös
Asher Fisch
Ádám Fischer
Thierry Fischer
Tilo Fuchs
Hortense von Gelmini
Michael Gielen
Johannes Goritzki
Clytus Gottwald
Konstantia Gourzi
Eivind Gullberg Jensen
Leopold Hager
Friedrich Haider
Michael Halász
Johannes Harneit
Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Olaf Henzold
Pablo Heras-Casado
Peter Hirsch
Heinz Holliger
Rupert Huber
Eliahu Inbal
Pietari Inkinen
Neeme Järvi
Marek Janowski
Johannes Kalitzke
Kirill Karabits
Peter Keuschnig
Bernhard Klee
Roland Kluttig
Bernhard Kontarsky
Ton Koopman
Kazimierz Kord
Gérard Korsten
Dieter Kurz
Franz Lang
Yoel Levi
Alexander Liebreich
Wolfgang Lischke
Brad Lubman
Michael Luig
Susanna Mälkki
Othmar M. F. Mága
Diego Masson
Mark Mast
Farhad Mechkat
Cornelius Meister
Jacques Mercier
Ingo Metzmacher
Alicja Mounk
Rainer Mühlbach
Christoph-Mathias Mueller
Uwe Mund
Kent Nagano
Günter Neuhold
Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Ulrich Nicolai
Grzegorz Rafael Nowak
Arnold Östman
Gabor Ötvös
Franck Ollu
Kazushi Ōno
Krzysztof Penderecki
Alejo Pérez
Robert HP Platz
Emilio Pomàrico
Pierre-Dominique Ponnelle
Christoph Poppen
David Porcelijn
Christof Prick
Hans-Martin Rabenstein
Manfred Reichert
Burkhard Rempe
Peter Richter de Rangenier
Helmuth Rilling
Pascal Rophé
Peter Rundel
Donald Runnicles
Pablo Rus Broseta
Peter Ruzicka
Oswald Sallaberger
Thomas Sanderling
Nello Santi
Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Heinrich Schiff
Urs Schneider
Hanns-Martin Schneidt
Eberhard Schoener
Michael Schønwandt
Holger Schröter-Seebeck
Uri Segal
Leif Segerstam
José Serebrier
Leo Siberski
Nicolas Simon
Stanisław Skrowaczewski
Sir William Southgate
Christopher Sprenger
Alois Springer
Jonathan Stockhammer
Yoav Talmi
Arturo Tamayo
Michael Tilson Thomas
Francis Travis
Wolfgang Trommer
Mario Venzago
Ilan Volkov
Edo de Waart
Hans Wallat
Volker Wangenheim
Ralf Weikert
Günther Wich
Gerhard Wimberger
Jürg Wyttenbach
Lothar Zagrosek
Hans Zender
David Zinman

boulez swr


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  1. Why does the name of the informal chief conductor of the Chancellor’s favourite festival never appear on lists like this one?

  2. (Male) orchestral musician says:

    Four women by my count out of 160 signatories…off topic I know but wow! The patriarchy reigns supreme.

    • I also noticed the conductor list’s unusual male/female divide. We are waiting for a superstar lady conductor to appear. That will change everything. None of the lady maestros I have heard so far have been anything more than competent.

      • (Male) orchestral musician says:

        I’m assuming you haven’t come across Marin Alsop or Simone Young yet? I would rate both of these female conductors as far more than “competent”…

    • Male,

      I’m Male, I’m not a musician, and I’ve got many years in a top 5 financial business. I couldn’t understand you mathematics. 160 out of 4, right? It’s means 2,5% of the total. What should be a situation far from patriarchy reigns supreme? Let’s say 50%, perhaps even 40% would sound a good balance? I think so, don’t you? Please, could you provide 80 or even 64 names of women conductors? At least they should be at the professional level of the rest of the list, In order to real keep equity. As you know equity isn’t one sauce for the goose and another for the gander. I’m sorry, I cannot understand the mathematical point such one + one = two, that you are using here to accuse the list as patriarchy supreme. If you aren’t accusing the list but the world, you’re right. It was really top-notch off topic and sounds like a pure critic to the list and intentions inside it. Please, these conductors are united against something important, and right now doesn’t matter their gender.

      • (Male) orchestral musician says:

        That was kind of my point Roberto – female conductors (in my experience) receive less encouragement, fewer opportunities and are also often judged more harshly than their male colleagues, including on their appearance. Perhaps we had a language misunderstanding, I wasn’t accusing the list of being patriarchal but the orchestral world. For the record, there are also plenty of very average male conductors on the list alongside some brilliant ones…but that’s beside the point :)

    • I’m not wading into this, but I just came across this website:, while randomly googling one of the names on the list. Featuring the CVs of over 80 female conductors, many of whom are winners of multiple competitions and prizes over the past forty years, it makes for fascinating reading.

  3. José Bergher says:

    Merging orchestras to solve their financial problems is a sign of extreme stupidity and has lodged itself as a pet formula in the rudimentary brains of some governments. Let us hope this aberration becomes self-limited and disappears as soon as possible.

    • Dear Sir,

      I regret to inform you that you, as well as the rest of the world, has been mislead. The SWR does not have any financial problems. Firstly, within weeks after the broadcasting council approved the merger, the SWR announced the creation, in cooperation with ZDF, of a new television channel for children, which would have costed 10s of millions for the SWR. (This, in the meantime, has fallen through) Secondly, the payment fee system for public broadcasting and the internet has recently been revised and reconstructed, bringing an enormous amount of money to the ARD and ZDF. According to “Das Spiegel” Magazine, this amounts to half a BILLION euros. (Please see link: ). The SWR claimed last year it needed to save 120 million euros by 2020. Since the restructuring of the German public broadcasting and internet payment system this year, it will have more money than it ever had in its history. The SWR, I can assure you, has no financial problems. It just doesn’t want to spend it on 2 great orchestras.

      • José Bergher says:

        Dear Anonymous,
        I’m extremely happy to learn that the SWR doesn’t have any financial problems and that this year it will have more money than ever. This is great! Fantastic! And I think it outrageous and appalling that the SWR doesn’t want to spend it in two great orchestras.

      • Monika Berger says:

        Please check your sources more carefully! The experts at KEF, the Kommission zur Ermittlung des Finanzbedarfs derRundfunkanstalten, replies with a very sharp press release concerning this Spiegel article your mention. Their release says: “Published figured of money are wrong and misinterpreted”

        • Although the KEF writes that basically one must wait before passing judgement on the final figures, it is unfathomable that the ARD and ZDF will not come out with considerably more money. My problem is not so much with the number crunching (I was incorrect in that the SWR claimed it needed to save 120 million euros; it’s 166 million. It has a yearly budget of about 1.2 Billion). The problem lies in Mr. Boudgoust’s and his colleagues’ methods.

  4. Many of the the conductors in the list is part of the increasing costs and financial problems for many orchestras by getting paid 20-50 times more per week than any orchestra musicians.

  5. I completly agree with Toby. And generally for 8 /12 weeks of effectiv presence !

  6. Andrey Boreyko says:

    Couple of years i was Principal Guest Conductor of SWR Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart.
    Please include my name to the list! From two great orchestras you never make one equally good! Dear musicians! Let’s hope it will never happens!!

  7. A slight correction. The orchestra in Stuttgart is called the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart. The orchestra being eliminated by the merger is the Sinfonieorchester des Südwestrundfunks which is based in Baden-Baden and Freiburg. In English, the SWR Symphony Orchestra based in Baden-Baden and Freiburg is being merged with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. I suppose the names are a bit moot.

    Excellent point about the list only containing 4 women. Maybe such orchestral patriarchy explains why at least half the public in Germany doesn’t care so much about the closing… All the same, it should be opposed and orchestras encouraged to become a bit more modern in many different ways.

  8. The merger will only save roughly € 5 million, but the SWR needs to cut overall costs by € 166 million. ( )

    So one needs to wonder where else the other € 161 million will be saved. SWR = 1 TV and 7 radio channels plus a youth program. Of the 7 radio channels 4 are “regionalized” and could easily be merged into only 2.

    To stop this merger one has to find support from outside the musicians ranks. But this might be difficult, as surely more people than those musicians will lose their jobs.

    An idea: We should compare how much of the SWR money goes into covering the great “the ref is a wanker” chorals, aka sports coverage. Double that amount can be spent on orchestras. Actually 1000 times more, because by sports coverage the Germans mean 99% football coverage and this could be financed by the football circus itself.

  9. Regarding archetype bureaucratic philistine, I beg to submit that this moniker has been retired by all the board members, attorneys, bureaucrats and other bozos who have destroyed the Minnesota Orchestra.

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