Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not Soon Enough

Gerard Schwarz will "step down" from his position as music director of the Seattle Symphony - but only at the end of the 2010-11 season. He then assumes the lifetime title of Conductor Laureate and will direct the symphony for "several weeks each year."
What a shame. I had hopes that the Board of Directors would act like directors and let him go a bit sooner. Seriously, folks, pay him his full salary for the next three years and shoo him out the door now.

The announcement isn't up on the Seattle Symphony's web site yet - you can find it at Kirshbaum & Demler, a publicity firm. This is a particularly juicy bit:
Schwarz’s history, success and contribution to the life of symphonic music throughout the world, means we must work very hard together to find an individual with the same commitment who will continue to lead the Seattle Symphony in the manner to which it has grown accustomed,” commented Executive Director Thomas Philion as he and Board Chair Susan Hutchison joined Schwarz for the announcement.   “But, happily, we have three concert seasons to celebrate the many contributions Gerard Schwarz has made and will continue to make to this institution, as we look ahead with great excitement to what the future holds for the Seattle Symphony.

"Continue to lead the Seattle Symphony in the manner to which is has grown accustomed," right. I'm sure they want another conductor who brings in the lawsuits and fosters continued artistic mediocrity, who inspires votes of 61 to 8 in favor of new artistic leadership. (See a previous blog posting and the Times article it was based on for details.)

Any ambitious conductor want to take over the most demoralized major orchestra in the country? I bet there are many of you out there who are more interesting conductors than Schwarz and who treat their players with an appropriate level of professional respect.

Update: Dan Wakin reports. He fits in plenty of references to the article he co-authored last year. I like this quotation:
Mr. Schwarz and orchestra officials asserted that the criticism played no part in his decision.
“There are those musicians who dislike their leader in any orchestra in the world,” Mr. Schwarz said. “That’s just the way it is.” He acknowledged that it was natural that some members would be happy with his departure.
Yes, probably about 87% of the players will be happy, based on last year's numbers.


Michael Walsh said...

It will take several years for the organization to work through the PTSD, especially with Schwarz hanging around like an abusive ex.

Anonymous said...

Well, I always thought his recordings of David Diamond's works were pretty good.

Had no idea he was such a tyrant...

Lisa Hirsch said...

I have a Naxos CD of Diamond's symphonies & the Seattle Symphony.

Yeah, he is a bully. I heard an amazing story about his unprofessional and bullying treatment of an orchestra he was guest conducting (that from context...), but I do not have permission to repeat it. Suffice it to say, bullying, unprofessional treatment that would not get the results he was ostensibly looking for.