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Mahler in Ljubljana: what were they thinking?

Reiner in Ljubljana: what were they thinking?

Like many people in the world of classical music, I’m worried by the trend of appointing young, unproven conductors to posts in major orchestras and opera houses. Sure, they look good in PR photos, but what experience can they possibly bring?

And what hope is there for the future of music if we continue with this craze for youth over experience? I’m talking about the likes of this young Gustav Mahler (23) at Olmutz, Hans Richter (25, Munich), Richard Strauss (21 – Meiningen – rumour has it he shares an agent with Hans von Bulow, if you want to know how this whole shadowy machine really works), Bruno Walter (21, Breslau), Otto Klemperer (22, Prague), Fritz Reiner (22, Laibach), Carlos Kleiber (28, Dusseldorf), Bernard Haitink, (26, Amsterdam), and Leonard Bernstein (25, New York).

Or worst of all, Wilhelm Furtwangler (21, Zurich) and Herbert von Karajan (21, Ulm) – what hope do either of these admittedly talented young people have of developing naturally as musicians when forced into the spotlight, and placed under such unrealistic pressure at such a young age? I fear for the art of music – really, I do.

Anyway, here’s something I wrote on the subject for The Spectator.