22. November 2008 · Comments Off · Categories: Links

Miffed at BSO, famed maestro backs out

In an extremely rare public flare-up in the outwardly genteel world of major symphony orchestras, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, the 77-year-old maestro who is one of the last living links to a golden era of Russian music, has pulled out of the entire run of four concerts he was scheduled to conduct with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which began on Thursday.

He is outraged, he said yesterday, at how disrespectfully, in his view, the BSO administration had marketed his appearances to the public.

In an emotional 40-minute interview at the home of a friend, Rozhdestvensky and his wife, Viktoria Postnikova, explained the maestro’s abrupt decision to withdraw from the performances, including concerts scheduled for tonight and Tuesday, and to return today to Moscow. He began with a pointed clarification.

“The BSO told its audiences I was ‘unable to conduct this performance as planned,’ ” he said, referring to an announcement that appeared in a program insert and on the BSO’s website. “I must say that I was able to conduct.” Full stop. “And how.”

The week’s early rehearsals had gone marvelously, he continued, speaking with occasional help from a translator. The trouble began on Wednesday during a rehearsal break, when the conductor and his wife took a stroll around Symphony Hall. They came upon a promotional poster that gave the week’s soloist, the cellist Lynn Harrell, top billing, both with large print and a photograph. Rozhdestvensky’s name appeared in smaller print as part of the program announcement.

Soon afterward, the conductor came across a copy of the orchestra’s season brochure, a marketing tool designed to entice potential subscribers. He found a page with the heading “Artists who inspire” and a smaller section devoted to “Distinguished Conductors.” That section, while including the names of two little-known conductors, did not mention his name. It appears only in a third section on the page under the heading “The Cello Shines,” in connection with Harrell, this week’s cello soloist.

“I felt insulted by the actions of the administration,” he explained, “I feel not only slighted but I suffered what is called in Russian a moral insult, and I’m free to take any actions to defend myself in public.”

Yikes! I can’t imagine a conductor leaving like that. I read it here. It sounds like he left the Bolshoi Theater in a huff too.

Me? I just hope they spell my name correctly in the program. SSV gets the “Patricia Emerson Mitchell” in there. OSJ can’t seem to. It’s just “Patricia Mitchell” and I’ve finally given up trying to get it changed. I’m not going to leave them over it, though. (Hmmm. Maybe they are trying to get me to leave?)

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