Dhe signs are condensing. Simon Rattle is probably the chosen successor to Mariss Jansons, who is much loved not only in Munich and who suddenly died on December 1, 2019, as chief conductor of the internationally respected Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (BRSO).
In Germany, the orchestra stands in line with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Dresden State Orchestra, even if it has even more potential. The outgoing and thoroughly aesthetic BR director Ulrich Wilhelm will possibly announce this change on January 12th.
But before that, Rattle, who will celebrate his 66th birthday on January 19th, would like to disappoint him London Symphony Orchestra announce that he will resign from the post he had taken over from Valery Gergiev in 2017. His contract runs until 2022.
This is bitter for the British, who, with the most famous living English conductor at the helm, were hoping to finally get their own concert hall in London. Because both the Barbican Center and the Royal Festival Hall in the South Bank Center are acoustically inadequate.
But even if Rattle has been very comfortable and still scored well in concert life in London with many programs and composer combinations that have already been tried and tested in Berlin – the hall will not come. The insane real estate and construction prices, the lack of willingness to donate in a not very art-friendly social climate, the Brexit and finally the Corona financial crisis prevented this for the foreseeable future.
He would only be the sixth boss
So why should the curly hair continue to get involved? Especially since orchestral touring is likely to face drastic changes even after Corona.
In Munich, Simon Rattle was very much appreciated and regularly invited during his time as head of the Berlin Philharmonic (2002 to 2018). That has only increased since he left Berlin.
His wife, the Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená, who likes to travel in a double pack, has also suffered well on the Isar. Ulrich Wilhelm could end his era worthily with this decision.
The famous name would fit seamlessly into the gallery of its BRSO predecessors Eugen Jochum, Rafael Kubelik, Colin Davis, Lorin Maazel and Mariss Jansons. Rattle would be only the sixth chief conductor in the history of this elite ensemble.
This would be strategically important for two reasons: BR will also face tight austerity measures in the course of the ongoing radio license discussions; with such a significant boss the orchestra would be reasonably safe.
And Sir Simon, who stayed in Berlin with his wife and his three out of five younger children, could immediately join the upcoming campaign for the new concert hall in Munich’s Werkviertel, which has already been decided on and which has already been completed in the architecture competition. The state government pays for it, but the main user would be the BRSO.
Markus Söder has already declared the project a prime ministerial matter, but given the rising costs and the financial post-pandemic problems, a glamorous name with campaign experience would be essential to make the cloud cuckoo land a sounding reality.
Which means that other possible conductors are out of the running in Munich. For example, the Canadian Yannick Nézet-Séguin, 45, who is swarmed by the BRSO. He would have to have at least one of his three (!) Bosses in Montreal, at the Philadelphia Orchestra or at the New York Metropolitan Opera (where he was not a good one in the lockdown of the orchestra, which has been unpaid since March Protective figure has made) give up.
But because Rattle would officially compete for the 2022/23 season and would probably function more as a kind of Elderstatesman transition candidate, would Nézet-Séguin have chances from 2028?
Now, of course, the musicians of the BRSO are to be congratulated for this coup. You, the aging Munich concert audience and the all too conservative program planning absolutely needed Rattle.
And it goes down brilliantly there, with the musicians, the listeners, even the critics: the impact-conscious Munich likes to shine in the light of the starry autumn sun. And all of this is not even an hour’s flight from Simon Rattle’s domicile in Berlin’s Rehwiese …
How difficult it can be to find the right orchestra leader today is also proven by two other current personalities. The Orchester Symphonique de Montréal, which is also known worldwide, has been looking for a successor to Kent Nagano, 69, who has been in office since 2006 and who ended his era in summer 2020, for three years. And has now found him in the little-known, good, but not really distinguished 40-year-old Venezuelan Rafael Payare.
Is Dudamel going to Paris?
The Dutch Concertgebouw Orchestra is also looking for a boss after Daniele Gatti, 58, resigned without notice in the summer of 2018 due to “MeToo” incidents. It could take until 2025, according to the official side.
The Paris Opera and its new German director Alexander Neef also need a successor for Philippe Jordan, 46, who has moved to the Vienna State Opera after eleven seasons.
There, of all people, Gustavo Dudamel, 39, is considered a hot candidate. The ex-El-Sistema-Klangkönig, around whom things got quieter and who previously only conducted “La Bohème” in Paris, has a musical theater list of just eleven works.