Barenboim’s La Scala in Canada

Originally from Mr. & Mrs. Zukerman, Divan (Sic!)

So, I returned to the forums elsewhere hoping to find others’ opinions. To my surprise, this was what I found, instead. (Jan 13, 2006) Zukerman’s latest activities Forumite-1: The pooch incident has come to symbolize what some close to the NACO regard as an alarming sense of entitlement on the part of the orchestra’s power couple. It may also offer a small clue in the continuing mystery of why Zukerman and Forsyth… At about the same time as his departure became known, Forsyth went on indefinite medical leave. Both have continued to perform elsewhere. They played together on Sunday night, at a Baltimore concert by the Zukerman Chamber Players, which includes three other Zukerman protégés from the NACO. The NACO has grown accustomed to giving the music director’s wife a long leash… Those responsibilities have never been more pressing than right now. The orchestra’s subscription-ticket sales dropped by almost 10 per cent between 2002 and 2004. Average attendance is stuck at 65 per cent (the TSO last year recorded 85 per cent). The NACO needs a new concertmaster, which after the conductor is the single most important position in the orchestra. Key musicians, like some critics, say that the quality of the NACO has deteriorated… Zukerman still has a veto over all hiring decisions, and his wife also votes on all string auditions. That’s too much power, say some close to the NACO, especially given the couple’s record of promoting players (and soloists) with whom they are personally friendly.

Forumite-2: Wow. Not very flattering. I will be curious to know how this all works out.

Forumite-1: Indeed. Zukerman has always been something of a Peck’s Bad Boy. I have experienced this over the years. And I say that despite my admiration for the sound he can produce from his fiddle and viola. There is another account in the Ottawa Citizen which actually quotes Zukerman on the issue. Apparently he claims there are some “rotton apples” in Ottawa. Needless to say, the musician’s union is not amused. Frankly, I think Zukerman has burned his bridges and will be gone for good. The blood he has spilled is simply too widespread through the orchestra. How silly to start boning one of the musicians – Ms. Forsythe – and then give her standing on ALL hirings among the string players. Let’s hope that others find her playing engaging, as she too will find her career finished in Canada as a result of this debacle. I have long since tired of seeing the CAMI-produced seasons of the NACO. All the same old faces year after year, the same tired repertoire. BOOORING!!! Zukerman’s main fault is his lack of sitzfleisch. This has always been the case, both as a violinist, and now as a conductor. He’s just plain lazy.

Forumite-3: “”Pinchas could argue with God, that the Earth is turning in the wrong direction,” said R. Zukerman’s ways have jacked up the tension level in the orchestra, especially when it comes to hiring new musicians. Until he arrived, hiring decisions were reached by consensus, after an open discussion by an audition committee consisting of the conductor and several players, including section principals. But Zukerman’s habit of belittling those who didn’t share his opinions prompted the musicians’ union to push for a system in which dissenting committee members could be shielded from the music director’s wrath. For the past few years, hiring decisions have been reached by secret ballot.” Geez. He’s a carbon copy of Barenboim.

Forumite-1: Not quite. Barenboim is still a fabulous pianist, if a less than stellar conductor. (although if he ends up taking over at La Scala, that will say something for his talents) And he has, shall I say, a rather larger repertoire. Do you know any other conductor who could play Moritz Rosenthal’s Papillons and also conduct Tristan from memory? Zukerman is just a lazy, if talented, musician. He had extraordinary gifts and he just wasted them.

Forumite-4: He plays the Rosenthal?  Unbelievable.

Forumite-1: To a fare-the-well. As an encore after a huge recital of Beethoven Liszt et al. It was simply fabulous and all mezzo voce. Rosenthal could not have done it better.

Forumite-3: I was referring to their arrogant and abusive personalities.

Forumite-1: Thanks for that precision. It was easy to take it as a blanket comment on them both. Nobody could ever accuse Barenboim of being either musically or physically lazy. Indeed, his schedule continues to amaze me, as he and I were born the same year.

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