Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

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Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:00 am

The headline is premature. There's been no such announcement. But when Rattle announced his departure from the Berlin Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev his from the London Symphony, I assumed the LSO would be Rattle's next stop (and said so), and I expect it will happen.


Simon Rattle: why the maestro is leaving the Berlin Philharmonic for the LSO
Richard Morrison
London Times, January 24 2015

After months of rumours about his return to the UK, Sir Simon Rattle already appears to be here. Or rather — here, there and everywhere. In the month of his 60th birthday, he has already conducted two stonking concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra. Next month he is back in London with the Berlin Philharmonic — a box-office draw so big that it is spread across two venues (the Barbican and Southbank) and includes a complete cycle of Sibelius symphonies as well as performances of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, a work that might be described as Rattle’s calling-card, were so protean a musical personality to have just one.

Meanwhile, the BBC has been mounting an unprecedented celebration of his birthday. It stretches across two TV channels and Radio 3, and includes a television documentary and live broadcasts of the Berlin PO concerts.

The poor guy could be forgiven for thinking that he’s already dead and reading his own obituaries. Sitting in the massive conductor’s dressing-room at the Berlin Philharmonie, surrounded by slightly terrifying portraits of Herbert von Karajan and Wilhelm Furtwängler, he gives a wry smile. “I can remember being the youngest person in the rehearsal room, and suddenly I’m the oldest,” he says.

Has this shower of hagiographic froth made him gloomy about turning 60? Or does he subscribe to the theory that conductors only get better with age? “Hmm,” he ponders. “Was it Peter Cook who said that it’s only conductors and judges whom people take seriously when they are senile? I think there is probably a point, somewhere around 70, when we start getting competent. So I am looking forward to those years of maturity and competence.”

Where will his seventh decade take him? We certainly know where he won’t be. His contract as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic ends in 2018, after 16 sometimes turbulent years. In 2013 this newspaper declared that he would be returning to the UK as principal conductor of the LSO. Nobody, least of all Rattle and the orchestra, has denied that this is true. Isn’t it time to announce a formal engagement, maybe in the columns of The Times?

Rattle smiles. “In the next few months I will know more,” he says, enigmatically. “There have been lots of fascinating discussions, and I couldn’t be happier with the programmes we have lined up with the LSO [six concerts next season, including a semi-staged Pelléas and Mélisande directed by Peter Sellars]. And it would be wonderful to spend more time in England. I had a fantastic six weeks last year at Covent Garden — but it’s not just about the music-making. Simply being in the old country was a tonic.

“When I go to Covent Garden or the LSO I work with people I grew up with in the National Youth Orchestra, or went out drinking with. There is a real ease about our relationship — and it’s not just because we all know who Harry Worth was. It goes even deeper than that. Mind you, after this 60th-birthday celebration it will probably be time to leave the UK for another decade: you will all be thoroughly sick of me.”

The theory is that Rattle has delayed signing on the dotted line until he has an undertaking that London will get a new concert hall. “None of London’s venues are what you would call great concert halls,” he says. “The astonishingly brilliant musicians in London simply deserve to have a hall as good as the Fairfield Hall in Croydon.”

Rattle’s view is that, given the huge leaps in building technology over the past 30 years, it’s now perfectly possible to design a concert hall that’s guaranteed to have great acoustics. “There must be close to 100 great new concert halls in Japan,” he points out. How easy would it be, though, to find a vacant plot in central London for a big new hall? “Nothing is impossible but some things are bloody difficult,” he admits. Nevertheless, he pulled off the trick in Birmingham — getting the magnificent Symphony Hall built during his time there. “I was so lucky there,” he says. “It’s never the right time to build a new concert hall, but my early years in Birmingham were the nearest thing to a right time. The city wanted to re-invent its image, and the politicians were all behind it.”

Whatever happens about the LSO appointment, Rattle and his third wife, the Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená, have decided that they and their family — three children, aged nine, six and six months respectively — will stay in Berlin. “It’s a wonderful city that’s now another kind of melting pot. And we are also close to the Czech border. That doesn’t stop me from working elsewhere as long as we acknowledge the fact that we have small children at school and if one of us is away the other has to be there. That’s more complicated than it seems. For example, I do a new Tristan at the Met in New York in 2016, which I am really looking forward to — but do we all go for a couple of months and take the kids with us? And then what about schooling?”

Doubtless when Rattle and the Berliners play in London next week, there will be smiles all round. Twas not always thus. Rattle was barely a year into his appointment when the sniping started about his unsuitability to grace the podium of Furtwänglerand Karajan — first in the press and then, more nastily, from a faction of the orchestra. “Nobody comes here thinking they will have an easy time,” Rattle says. “The job should come with a warning saying: ‘Pregnant women and people with back conditions shouldn’t go on this ride.’ It’s strange though. Now that I’m not responsible for the orchestra’s future — not that one’s allowed to have that much responsibility — there’s a different feeling.”

More relaxed? “No, more pleasurable. I don’t think I would ever use the word relaxed about the Berlin Philharmonic. The way one rehearses here is unlike with any other orchestra. It’s not a matter of putting a foundation together. It’s much more counter-intuitive. It’s more like a string quartet. I can remember as a student listening at the Dartington Summer School to the Amadeus String Quartet rehearsing. You could sit unnoticed underneath a window and hear stupendous arguments breaking out — and then everyone settling down and making something wonderful happen. There is the same feeling here. What the process doesn’t allow, however, is the normal thing where a conductor puts a beat down and everybody just follows. You have to learn another way to conduct. The Berliners don’t begin notes in the same way as other orchestras do. And I’ve seen many conductors come to grief — great conductors, too — simply by saying ‘Play on my beat’ and finding that the orchestra gets further and further away from it.”

Is he looking with amusement at the shenanigans to appoint his successor — a search that seems to be taking in everyone from young guns like Gustavo Dudamel and Andris Nelsons to third-time-around veterans such as Daniel Barenboim? Rattle laughs. “I probably know less about the succession than most people, and even less than some family pets. The one thing I said to the orchestra was, ‘Do my successor a favour and find some way of not having a re-election process every few years, because that’s not good for anybody’s health. But it’s none of my business now. And what a privileged position I’m in. Every other conductor who comes into the building is being auditioned — whether they think they are or not. I can just make music.”

If Rattle does accept a job in London, will he speak up about the value of music and culture in British society, as he used to do? “Someone needs to express the feeling that the arts are at the centre of national life,” he says. “Germany is far from perfect, but here there is an absolute, unspoken assumption that the arts are an essential part of what the country is. Angela Merkel is just as likely to be coming to a concert here at the Philharmonie as she is to be hanging out with Bastian Schweinsteiger [Bayern Munich’s midfield dynamo]. I don’t even know if there’s a German word for elitism.”

That, I suggest, is possibly because — after 13 years in the country — Rattle’s German vocab is still capable of mystifying Germans. He laughs. “Well, quite. But the notion that classical music is somehow elitist has to be refuted everywhere. It’s going to be important to speak out about that in London, and sometimes say the wrong thing, and sometimes get hit about the head. It comes with the territory.”

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/musi ... 331353.ece
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by Lance » Sun Jan 25, 2015 7:41 pm

A very interesting read, indeed!
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:01 pm

I too predicted the LSO to be the orchestra Rattle ruins next.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:04 pm

The theory is that Rattle has delayed signing on the dotted line until he has an undertaking that London will get a new concert hall. “None of London’s venues are what you would call great concert halls,” he says. “The astonishingly brilliant musicians in London simply deserve to have a hall as good as the Fairfield Hall in Croydon.”
He is so down to earth, so undemanding, that's what I love about Le Rat.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by slofstra » Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:30 pm

Anyone care to guess who might be his replacement, given Rattle's comment "Every other conductor who comes into the building is being auditioned — whether they think they are or not."

I have listened to a dozen or two BPO concerts every year for maybe five years now. There is a feature to flag your favourites, potentially for repeat viewing, so I went through them to see what stood out. Thielemann I like quite a bit, and Andris Nelsons too. But the one that stands out to me is Tugan Sokhiev. The orchestra turns it up a notch when he conducts; just four occasions since 2010, but three were favourites. It's possible I did not see the fourth concert; it features a piece by Berio so I'll have to view this one soon.

And yes, I "favourited" quite a number conducted by Rattle. I hope he conducts opera or has access to a great choir in his next gig, because the concert performances of 'The Magic Flute' and 'Die Walkure' and the oratorio performances were all standouts.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by slofstra » Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:31 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
The theory is that Rattle has delayed signing on the dotted line until he has an undertaking that London will get a new concert hall. “None of London’s venues are what you would call great concert halls,” he says. “The astonishingly brilliant musicians in London simply deserve to have a hall as good as the Fairfield Hall in Croydon.”
He is so down to earth, so undemanding, that's what I love about Le Rat.
Why even go to London when he can have 100 new concert halls in Japan? :)

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Sat Jan 31, 2015 12:53 am

slofstra wrote:I "favourited" quite a number conducted by Rattle. I hope he conducts opera or has access to a great choir in his next gig, because the concert performances of 'The Magic Flute' and 'Die Walkure' and the oratorio performances were all standouts.
The London Symphony Orchestra did a number of operas in concert when Colin Davis was their music director; these have been published on the LSO Live label. I'm sure Simon Rattle can do likewise if he wishes, and if indeed he becomes the orchestra's music director, which is not a done deal. Also, as I've mentioned in another thread, he'll be returning to the Metropolitan Opera in a future season for a new production of "Tristan und Isolde," after his successful debut there with "Pelléas et Mélisande."

The Berlin Philharmonic used to be the pit orchestra at the Salzburg Easter Festival, and Rattle conducted them there in "Peter Grimes." But the festival's artistic director is now Christian Thielemann and the orchestra is the Dresden State, of which he's music director.

I'm not guessing who will succeed Rattle at the Philharmonic; that's a mug's game as the unexpected choice of Simon Rattle last time made clear enough. But I doubt it will be Thielemann. He has a habit of accepting positions and then walking out over one dispute or another, and he did it in Berlin at the Deutsche Oper. Too unstable a personality, then, for an orchestra which expects a long-term, even life-long, commitment from its music director. Also, he's made adverse remarks about Daniel Barenboim which some have seen as antisemitic, and that alone could put him out of the running for any post in Berlin.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:10 pm

[quote="John

I'm not guessing who will succeed Rattle at the Philharmonic; that's a mug's game as the unexpected choice of Simon Rattle last time made clear enough.[/quote]
It certainly is a mugs game, with the BPO being the mugs when they signed up Le Rat.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by slofstra » Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:37 pm

I enjoy trying to predict things.

You might remember that I predicted Obama would become US president even before he was a US citizen. I further predicted he would be succeeded by Hilary Clinton. It's all in the Corner Pub.

Perhaps in a few years we can look back at this thread and see who was right about the BPO. Of course, if you don't even guess you can't win the game. I understand the prize for the winner is a coffee mug.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:32 pm

slofstra wrote:You might remember that I predicted Obama would become US president even before he was a US citizen.
Did you made that prediction before August 4, 1961? Because he was born a US citizen, right wing slanders and nonsense notwithstanding.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by slofstra » Mon Feb 02, 2015 10:39 pm

John F wrote:
slofstra wrote:You might remember that I predicted Obama would become US president even before he was a US citizen.
Did you made that prediction before August 4, 1961? Because he was born a US citizen, right wing slanders and nonsense notwithstanding.
Yes, I know. Just being cheeky. However, I did make a prediction quite early on. Usually my predictive powers are not that good. Like telling my wife that I've have a sudden premonition that the package I've been waiting for from amazon will arrive today. Pretty much guarantees it won't.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:15 pm

There's an interview with Simon Rattle on the BBC News UK web site about the possibility of his coming to the London Symphony Orchestra.

Sir Simon Rattle considers London move if venues improve
11 February 2015

One of the world's most eminent conductors has told the BBC that London's concert halls are not up to international standards.

Sir Simon Rattle has three years left on his current contract with the Berlin Philharmonic and rumours are circulating in the music world that he could be heading for London...

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31431555

The rest of the story is inaccessible, but there's a video clip in which Rattle speaks on that subject. Not only does he insist that London has no adequate concert hall for the orchestra to play in - the Barbican Hall is merely "serviceable" - but the LSO's "relentless schedule of performing and touring" doesn't leave enough time for rehearsing as he's been able to do with the Berlin Philharmonic. Rattle doesn't say whether, even if given a new hall and radically different work rules, he would accept the post with the LSO. He's deliberately evasive. And the topic doesn't arise how the LSO could replace the income lost to the players if they sharply reduce the number of performances they give. Seems to me that Rattle has just ruled out the London Symphony without actually saying no.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by maestrob » Thu Feb 12, 2015 11:29 pm

It's revealing that Rattle needs so much rehearsal. Could be a negotiating tactic, though. If the LSO would put up with Gergiev, they might consider Rattle a dream come true..... :mrgreen:

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Fri Feb 13, 2015 2:48 am

I don't think Rattle is saying he needs so much rehearsal to get an acceptable performance, but that he can use the rehearsal time in trying for an exceptional performance. Similarly, the Berlin Philharmonic can probably play any music impressively on first reading, with no rehearsal at all. But they give their conductor, or at least their music director, so much rehearsal time because they expect the extra work to pay off. Just my guess, of course.

If, as he says, the London Symphony Orchestra plays an exceptionally high number of concerts in London and on tour, then the remaining time for rehearsals is correspondingly reduced, and the time to rehearse each performance is reduced further still. I don't know what their season is like but I have been to some of their "festivals." Gergiev's Prokofiev symphony cycle, later published by Philips, was four concerts in the space of a week. Rostropovich's Shostakovich cycle some years earlier came nearly as quickly, with three concerts a week (plus some chamber music programs in between). How the rehearsals were arranged and how much time they added up to, I don't know, but especially in the Shostakovich cycle because it was longer, the orchestra had to be under a lot of pressure, including time pressure. I don't suppose these were typical of the whole season, but they give an idea of what Rattle may be talking about.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:03 am

A feasibility study can be used to start a project or to bury it. My guess is that this is probably headed in the latter direction.

20 February 2015
New London concert hall one step closer

London is one step closer to a new state of the art concert venue after Chancellor George Osborne ordered an official feasibility study.

Conductor Sir Simon Rattle has led the campaign for a new concert hall in the capital city. He told the BBC London's halls were not up to international standards. The revered conductor, who is currently at the Berlin Philharmonic, said he would consider a London move if there was a "proper" venue.

Mr Osborne told the Evening Standard he had made the decision after speaking to "the likes of Sir Simon Rattle" who had impressed on him "the significant artistic, educational and economic benefits that a modern concert hall would bring not just London but the whole country". The study is included in the chancellor's and London Mayor Boris Johnson's long term economic plan for London. Mr Johnson told the newspaper the feasibility study "will enable us to understand fully the potential to build that centre and help to cement our position as a world city for culture."

Sir Simon has three years left on his current contract with the Berlin Philharmonic and it is understood he could move to the London Symphony Orchestra, however it would depend on a new venue. "You have no idea how great the London Symphony Orchestra can sound in a great concert hall," he told the BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, the chair of Arts Council England, is one of many who have welcomed the news. "Simon Rattle is one of the world's greats. We'd love to see him back in London and we should do everything we can to achieve this. Anyone who heard him conduct Sibelius last week (at the Barbican) understands his genius," he said.

However some have questioned how a new concert hall can be afforded in times of austerity, including writer and broadcaster Ivan Hewitt. "Spending many millions to build a hall get a few more seconds' reverberation time, and show that we're keeping up with Paris, Copenhagen, Lucerne etc is an indulgence we just don't need in straitened times," he said.

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-31552391
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by piston » Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:28 am

It certainly has the potential to rapidly become politically controversial. Not a few British commentators have responded to this feasibility headline with pointed remarks about lack of funding for music education throughout the country. Let's not forget that, in contrast to Munich, London has plenty of performing space for its orchestras.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by piston » Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:37 pm

There we go! "Simon Rattle is Waving his Baton at the Wrong Cause" :
Meanwhile, last week’s Warwick University report into the arts had some worrying findings. On the one hand the wealthiest, best-educated and least-ethnically diverse 8% of the population accounted for 44% of all attendances at live music. On the other, participation in music in schools by children aged between five and 10 has dropped from 55% to 37% between 2008/9 and 2013/14. Osborne may be firmly behind a concert hall, but where is its audience going to come from when children’s music education is in danger of withering? When education secretary Nicky Morgan is advising children against studying arts and humanities subjects? When Osborne’s colleagues at the culture department have removed £83m of arts funding since 2010?
http://www.scena.org/brand/brand.asp?la ... mon-rattle
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:10 pm

Rattle is interested in music education too. He's introduced or at least supported something like El Sistema in Berlin, though since the London Symphony has its own educational outreach program, including its own building, he wouldn't be starting from scratch. However, all this is irrelevant to a music director's main job, which is making music with his orchestra. If some want to make an either-or thing of it, that's essentially an excuse for doing neither.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by jserraglio » Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:05 am

John F wrote:Rattle is interested in music education too. [snip]
He conducted the Mahler 4 with the Oberlin Conservatory Orchestra while his son was studying there. Would many star conductors do that, even for their own child?

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:29 pm

Every music director of the New York Phlharmonic since Zubin Mehta has conducted the Juilliard School's student orchestra in at least one concert. Colin Davis led the Juilliard students in a reading of Sibelius's Symphony #3, and an enlightening hour that was. Yuri Temirkanov led the student orchestra of the Manhattan School of Music in a reading of Shostakovich's Symphony #10, with a few players from the St. Petersburg Philharmonic sitting in. That too was enlightening; from a capable run-through of the Scherzo (the kids had obviously been well prepared before Temirkanov's visit) he brought them up to a really vicious performance in about 15 minutes.

The difference between all this and El Sistema is many miles. If, as I've read, Simon Rattle has backed a program like El Sistema in Berlin, that's a whole order of commitment beyond a one-off visit to an existing student orchestra at a top music conservatory.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by piston » Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:35 am

Done!
Conductor Simon Rattle is swapping a podium in Berlin for one in Britain, taking over as music director of the London Symphony Orchestra.

The LSO announced Tuesday that Rattle, who has led the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002, will join the London ensemble in September 2017.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:32 am

Well, well. I think this could be a good match between orchestra and conductor; it certainly was when I heard them a few years ago in a Barbican concert of Messiaen and Bruckner. But he isn't going to get his new concert hall, at least not any time soon.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by barney » Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:54 pm

So it's confirmed. So sorry he can't do the NYPO and make Chalkie orgasmically happy. But I think he and the LSO will be happy together.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by piston » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:17 pm

He deserves much credit in Birmingham. And he is a fine example of a highly mediatized artist, as though he were the next Karajan.... It's obvious that when an artist plays this kind of media game, especially a "Sir" artist, expectations automatically run very high and the artist is easily trapped in his own self-promotion game. But Britain absolutely loves him because ... he's British. Don't tell me that nationalism is irrelevant in today's classical music world.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:54 pm

Really, I think this cynicism isn't justified. Simon Rattle has always been available to the press and used his opportunities to promote various agendas, but it's not just self-promotion.

The Brits have always loved their own, much more than Americans have loved their own, so why shouldn't they love Simon Rattle? But nationalistic pride isn't all there is to it, though you imply that. If it were, he would never have won the Berlin post or kept it for so long, until he himself decided to end it.

Let's be fair.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:23 pm

barney wrote:So it's confirmed. So sorry he can't do the NYPO and make Chalkie orgasmically happy. But I think he and the LSO will be happy together.
Chalkie, who will be on the island of Great Britain soon for his exhibition, can't get away from the guy. :)

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by barney » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:12 pm

piston wrote:He deserves much credit in Birmingham. And he is a fine example of a highly mediatized artist, as though he were the next Karajan.... It's obvious that when an artist plays this kind of media game, especially a "Sir" artist, expectations automatically run very high and the artist is easily trapped in his own self-promotion game. But Britain absolutely loves him because ... he's British. Don't tell me that nationalism is irrelevant in today's classical music world.
Not something that would ever be a factor in American life, the self-appointed land of the free and home of the brave. I don't know how God managed to cope before he could be wrapped in the American flag and given a proper identity.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by barney » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:29 pm

John F wrote:The Brits have always loved their own, much more than Americans have loved their own,
We must live in alternative universes. There is scarcely a country in the world that I have ever had anything to do with that is more nationalistic than the US. English government buildings do not have the flag in every room, English schoolchildren do not recite the pledge, there was never a star chamber for Un-English Activities, or doctrine of English manifest destiny. If there was ever a doctrine of English exceptionalism (and the 19th century might be deemed to espouse that) it is long-dead; hardly so in the US. While I admire a great deal about the US, especially its immense contribution in the past, and have said before that if any country is to have hegemony I hope it will remain the US, I nevertheless marvel at the near-universal smugness of Americans at their self-perception of their virtues.
Health care is a prime example. I remember being lectured on why America has the best system, yet you spend 14% of GDP on health to cover a relatively small percentage of the population; Australia spends 9% and covers everyone. No one is refused help in Australian hospitals because they cannot pay.
I'm pausing to draw a deep breath here. You should not have got me started.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:19 pm

I was speaking on the topic of classical music and its performers, and I stand by what I said. The Brits have commonly chosen their compatriots as music directors of their leading orchestras; Americans seldom do. James Levine was the first and only American-born head of the Boston Symphony, Leonard Bernstein the first and only of the New York Philharmonic until 2002, and the Chicago and Philadelphia orchestras haven't chosen one yet. British record review magazines such as The Gramophone have commonly preferred recordings made by domestic labels and artists no matter what the repertoire; there's been no such bias in American record review magazines.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by piston » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:46 pm

I am certain that "Rattlemania" is going to be good for classical music in Britain and that can only be viewed as a positive outcome. But the guy's superstar status is not readily explained on the basis of a number of incredible performances that amount to a multitude of Rattle CDs in one's collection. That's why I maintain that much of that Rattlemania is media hype/nationalism.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:09 pm

piston wrote:the guy's superstar status is not readily explained on the basis of a number of incredible performances that amount to a multitude of Rattle CDs in one's collection.
For "one's" read "my," right? You aren't the only American who's not a great fan of Simon Rattle's music making, but as I said, the Brits love their own, he's long been a superstar in his own country and not just because the British musical press says so. What living British conductor rivals him today in both fame and achievement? I've gone down the list and can find none.

I'm old enough to remember when appreciation of Wilhelm Furtwängler's music making was extremely rare in the U.S., and not for political reasons; American taste and critical opinion were dominated by the come scritto approach exemplified by Toscanini. I also remember when some reviews by David Hamilton in High Fidelity magazine began to turn this around; they certainly encouraged me to listen to recordings which I'd previously dismissed unheard because of negative critical opinion.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Mar 07, 2015 2:40 pm

John F wrote:Really, I think this cynicism isn't justified. Simon Rattle has always been available to the press and used his opportunities to promote various agendas, but it's not just self-promotion.

The Brits have always loved their own, much more than Americans have loved their own, so why shouldn't they love Simon Rattle? But nationalistic pride isn't all there is to it, though you imply that. If it were, he would never have won the Berlin post or kept it for so long, until he himself decided to end it.

Let's be fair.
Really, Ameticans not loving their own, how about Leonard Bernstein and his protege Michael Tilson Thomas.

But, America had the money to bring Reiner, Ormandy, Szell and many others to lead their Orchestras, importing Europeans maybe caused the attitude you speak of..

Rattle's work in Birmingham should never be overlooked, or underestimated, as a young Conductor he did much to bring Classical Music into younger listeners homes.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by Seán » Sat Mar 07, 2015 2:45 pm

barney wrote:
John F wrote:The Brits have always loved their own, much more than Americans have loved their own,
We must live in alternative universes. There is scarcely a country in the world that I have ever had anything to do with that is more nationalistic than the US. English government buildings do not have the flag in every room, English schoolchildren do not recite the pledge, there was never a star chamber for Un-English Activities, or doctrine of English manifest destiny. If there was ever a doctrine of English exceptionalism (and the 19th century might be deemed to espouse that) it is long-dead; hardly so in the US. While I admire a great deal about the US, especially its immense contribution in the past, and have said before that if any country is to have hegemony I hope it will remain the US, I nevertheless marvel at the near-universal smugness of Americans at their self-perception of their virtues.
Health care is a prime example. I remember being lectured on why America has the best system, yet you spend 14% of GDP on health to cover a relatively small percentage of the population; Australia spends 9% and covers everyone. No one is refused help in Australian hospitals because they cannot pay.
I'm pausing to draw a deep breath here. You should not have got me started.
Well said.
Seán

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by slofstra » Sat Mar 07, 2015 3:06 pm

John F wrote:I was speaking on the topic of classical music and its performers, and I stand by what I said. The Brits have commonly chosen their compatriots as music directors of their leading orchestras; Americans seldom do. James Levine was the first and only American-born head of the Boston Symphony, Leonard Bernstein the first and only of the New York Philharmonic until 2002, and the Chicago and Philadelphia orchestras haven't chosen one yet. British record review magazines such as The Gramophone have commonly preferred recordings made by domestic labels and artists no matter what the repertoire; there's been no such bias in American record review magazines.
There could be reasons for that other than simple bias. i.e. That Britain actually has better composers, and singers, and writers, and beer. :)

And this is more a response to piston, but I'm not sure how much CD recordings should factor into an evaluation of conductors, these days. There is no money in it; it's all in live performance now, and at best, the CD is a promotional item to attract interest for live performance.
Rattle and the BPO have a very successful on-line service, and at the present time you can watch 126 unique performances conducted by Sir Simon in HD sound and video. As I've mentioned before, he especially excels in the performance of oratorio and unstaged opera.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by slofstra » Sat Mar 07, 2015 3:18 pm

If you want to give Rattle and the BPO a whirl, you can watch a concert free right now, in HD sound. The cost of the "free" concert is your name going on their email list, which isn't so bad.
Here is the link:

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/20250

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:10 pm

slofstra wrote:
John F wrote:I was speaking on the topic of classical music and its performers, and I stand by what I said. The Brits have commonly chosen their compatriots as music directors of their leading orchestras; Americans seldom do. James Levine was the first and only American-born head of the Boston Symphony, Leonard Bernstein the first and only of the New York Philharmonic until 2002, and the Chicago and Philadelphia orchestras haven't chosen one yet. British record review magazines such as The Gramophone have commonly preferred recordings made by domestic labels and artists no matter what the repertoire; there's been no such bias in American record review magazines.
There could be reasons for that other than simple bias. i.e. That Britain actually has better composers, and singers, and writers, and beer. :)
The subject is conductors. The Brits have favored even mediocrities, such as John Pritchard and Andrew Davis, over the cream of foreign conductors. This has become less common since the 1990s.

Do you really mean to say that British singers are "better" than Americans? Maybe in oratorio... :mrgreen:
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by lennygoran » Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:13 pm

"there was never a star chamber for Un-English Activities, or doctrine of English manifest destiny. "

What about when the sun never set on the English empire--what was that? Regards, Len

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:39 pm

Barney misspoke. There's never been anything like a Star Chamber in the U.S.; he's referring to a Congressional committee, which as such had neither the standing nor the powers of a court. As for so-called Manifest Destiny, it was never an actual policy, it was an attitude which some Americans embraced and others rejected. But all this is completely beside the point anyway.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by barney » Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:42 pm

lennygoran wrote:"What about when the sun never set on the English empire--what was that? Regards, Len
That was civilisation.*
Lots of people have had empires, and it tends to bring with it a sense of superiority and entitlement, but manifest destiny is a step beyond that.
*OK, just being provocative there. Rather like JohnF.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by barney » Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:47 pm

John F wrote:Barney misspoke. There's never been anything like a Star Chamber in the U.S.; he's referring to a Congressional committee, which as such had neither the standing nor the powers of a court. As for so-called Manifest Destiny, it was never an actual policy, it was an attitude which some Americans embraced and others rejected. But all this is completely beside the point anyway.
I used the term quite deliberately. I know it wasn't an actual star chamber, but it operated like one. People were blacklisted, careers destroyed, all without proper process or transparency or opportunity to appeal. The analogy is not unreasonable.
It wasn't clear to me in your original post that you were referring solely to conductors. However, given that you say that was what you meant - and I'd still take issue even with that - yes, all this is beside the point.
What have you got against Andrew Davis? Damn fine conductor in my book. His career was mostly in the UK, Canada and now Australia, was it not? I gather there was an unsuccessful link with Pittsburgh, but I have no knowledge of that. Wiki ascribes it to demands on his schedule but I imagine there was more to it than that.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:51 pm

slofstra wrote:If you want to give Rattle and the BPO a whirl, you can watch a concert free right now, in HD sound. The cost of the "free" concert is your name going on their email list, which isn't so bad.
Here is the link:

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/20250
Are you ever going to stop plugging this?

I'm thinking they must be giving you a free service... :mrgreen:
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Mar 07, 2015 9:01 pm

John F wrote:
slofstra wrote:
John F wrote:I was speaking on the topic of classical music and its performers, and I stand by what I said. The Brits have commonly chosen their compatriots as music directors of their leading orchestras; Americans seldom do. James Levine was the first and only American-born head of the Boston Symphony, Leonard Bernstein the first and only of the New York Philharmonic until 2002, and the Chicago and Philadelphia orchestras haven't chosen one yet. British record review magazines such as The Gramophone have commonly preferred recordings made by domestic labels and artists no matter what the repertoire; there's been no such bias in American record review magazines.
There could be reasons for that other than simple bias. i.e. That Britain actually has better composers, and singers, and writers, and beer. :)
The subject is conductors. The Brits have favored even mediocrities, such as John Pritchard and Andrew Davis, over the cream of foreign conductors. This has become less common since the 1990s.

Do you really mean to say that British singers are "better" than Americans? Maybe in oratorio... :mrgreen:
Interesting that both Conductors that you deem mediocre lead the BBC Symphony, Pritchard was initially Fritz Busch's assistant at Glyndebourne, and he is buried nearby. I doubt Busch considered him mediocre.

Also they are both CBE's so it's Sir John Pritchard, and Sir Andrew Davis, given your penchant for correct facts.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by slofstra » Sun Mar 08, 2015 12:18 am

Chalkperson wrote:
slofstra wrote:If you want to give Rattle and the BPO a whirl, you can watch a concert free right now, in HD sound. The cost of the "free" concert is your name going on their email list, which isn't so bad.
Here is the link:

https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concert/20250
Are you ever going to stop plugging this?

I'm thinking they must be giving you a free service... :mrgreen:
Well, it is a thread about Rattle so here's a chance for folks to see what he's doing this year.
But to answer your question: no. :)

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by slofstra » Sun Mar 08, 2015 12:29 am

John F wrote:
slofstra wrote:
John F wrote:I was speaking on the topic of classical music and its performers, and I stand by what I said. The Brits have commonly chosen their compatriots as music directors of their leading orchestras; Americans seldom do. James Levine was the first and only American-born head of the Boston Symphony, Leonard Bernstein the first and only of the New York Philharmonic until 2002, and the Chicago and Philadelphia orchestras haven't chosen one yet. British record review magazines such as The Gramophone have commonly preferred recordings made by domestic labels and artists no matter what the repertoire; there's been no such bias in American record review magazines.
There could be reasons for that other than simple bias. i.e. That Britain actually has better composers, and singers, and writers, and beer. :)
The subject is conductors. The Brits have favored even mediocrities, such as John Pritchard and Andrew Davis, over the cream of foreign conductors. This has become less common since the 1990s.

Do you really mean to say that British singers are "better" than Americans? Maybe in oratorio... :mrgreen:
I do prefer English voice to American, but back to the conductor thing.
They did have Boult, Barborilli, Beecham, Colin Davis and Hickox and Willcocks.
But who has replaced them? A fine crop of young Russians, it would seem. So much for the sun never setting on the British music scene.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Sun Mar 08, 2015 12:29 am

barney wrote:I used the term quite deliberately. I know it wasn't an actual star chamber, but it operated like one. People were blacklisted, careers destroyed, all without proper process or transparency or opportunity to appeal. The analogy is not unreasonable.
Nonetheless it is false. Those who were named in the HUAC hearings were not punished by that or any other government body. Ten writers and directors who refused to answer questions posed by the committee were held in contempt of Congress, which is a crime, and were tried and convicted. But the Hollywood blacklist of which you're speaking, which included hundreds, was created by the movie industry itself. That is very far removed from any conception of a Star Chamber.

Who were the "Hollywood Ten"? They were Alvah Bessie, screenwriter; Herbert Biberman, screenwriter and director; Lester Cole, screenwriter; Edward Dmytryk, director; Ring Lardner Jr., screenwriter; John Howard Lawson, screenwriter; Albert Maltz, screenwriter; Samuel Ornitz, screenwriter; Adrian Scott, producer and screenwriter; Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter. Most of them will be quite unknown to most of us, not only because they were denied work in the entertainment industry for about ten years, but because Hollywood screenwriters are little known in their own right unless they are famous for other work.
barney wrote:What have you got against Andrew Davis? Damn fine conductor in my book.
I couldn't disagree more, but of course you're entitled to your opinion. Andrew Davis is one of those who have benefitted from the American prejudice against home-grown conductors; he has been music director since 2000 of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, second or third only to the Met among American opera companies. In the 1980s, John Pritchard was music director America's other top company, the San Francisco Opera, until his death. No American-born conductor has ever been music director of either company. Meanwhile, Americans were being given important posts abroad; Lorin Maazel was music director of the Vienna State Opera until his attempted artistic reforms made him unpopular and he left, and James Conlon led the Cologne Opera and Gürzenich Orchestra and was chief conductor at the Opéra in Paris for more than a decade.
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by John F » Sun Mar 08, 2015 12:41 am

Chalkperson wrote:Interesting that both Conductors that you deem mediocre lead the BBC Symphony, Pritchard was initially Fritz Busch's assistant at Glyndebourne, and he is buried nearby. I doubt Busch considered him mediocre.

Also they are both CBE's so it's Sir John Pritchard, and Sir Andrew Davis, given your penchant for correct facts.
Like I said, the Brits love their own and favor them in appointments to their leading orchestras, and knight them into the bargain. Pritchard doubtless did well as an assistant conductor at Glyndebourne, and he was a perfectly competent opera conductor - I attended several of his performances from Glyndebourne in the 1950s to the Met in the 1970s - but in no way a world-beater.

As for quaint honorifics such as "sir" or "lord," we Yanks aren't obliged to use them and I'm among the many who don't bother. Do you yourself always say Lord Britten or Lord Olivier? or Count John McCormack or Chevalier Graham Green?
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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by lennygoran » Sun Mar 08, 2015 4:50 am

barney wrote: That was civilisation.*
No imperialism involved? Okay no more saber RATTLEing from me-back to Rattle! Regards, Len :)

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by barney » Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:34 pm

:lol: Very good Len. A touch laboured, but well worth the effort. It may be archaic now, but in an earlier vernacular in England, a rattle was someone who could not shut up, a gossip, someone who engaged mouth but not brain. NOt that this has the slightest connection to the highly esteemed Sir Simon.
lennygoran wrote:
barney wrote: That was civilisation.*
No imperialism involved? Okay no more saber RATTLEing from me-back to Rattle! Regards, Len :)

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by barney » Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:36 pm

John F wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:Interesting that both Conductors that you deem mediocre lead the BBC Symphony, Pritchard was initially Fritz Busch's assistant at Glyndebourne, and he is buried nearby. I doubt Busch considered him mediocre.

Also they are both CBE's so it's Sir John Pritchard, and Sir Andrew Davis, given your penchant for correct facts.
Like I said, the Brits love their own and favor them in appointments to their leading orchestras, and knight them into the bargain. Pritchard doubtless did well as an assistant conductor at Glyndebourne, and he was a perfectly competent opera conductor - I attended several of his performances from Glyndebourne in the 1950s to the Met in the 1970s - but in no way a world-beater.

As for quaint honorifics such as "sir" or "lord," we Yanks aren't obliged to use them and I'm among the many who don't bother. Do you yourself always say Lord Britten or Lord Olivier? or Count John McCormack or Chevalier Graham Green?
No, they're Ben and Larry to me because I'm so well connected and count them among my friends. Or I would if ever I'd met either.

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Re: Simon Rattle on his future, etc.

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Mar 08, 2015 8:09 pm

John F wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:Interesting that both Conductors that you deem mediocre lead the BBC Symphony, Pritchard was initially Fritz Busch's assistant at Glyndebourne, and he is buried nearby. I doubt Busch considered him mediocre.

Also they are both CBE's so it's Sir John Pritchard, and Sir Andrew Davis, given your penchant for correct facts.
Like I said, the Brits love their own and favor them in appointments to their leading orchestras, and knight them into the bargain. Pritchard doubtless did well as an assistant conductor at Glyndebourne, and he was a perfectly competent opera conductor - I attended several of his performances from Glyndebourne in the 1950s to the Met in the 1970s - but in no way a world-beater.

As for quaint honorifics such as "sir" or "lord," we Yanks aren't obliged to use them and I'm among the many who don't bother. Do you yourself always say Lord Britten or Lord Olivier? or Count John McCormack or Chevalier Graham Green?
Who is Chevalier Graham Green?

Is he the writer, Graham Greene perhaps?

At least we don't have all that awful Hall of Fame crap you Yanks do.

Of the five I know, the only one who uses his title is Sir Elton, Mick, Paul and Richard aren't too bothered, Geldof prefers Saint Bob.

Luckily I don't know Bono.

The Lords I have met are more snooty in general, same goes for Princes.
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