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Morlot to Seattle

The Seattle Symphony has named a new conductor: Ludovic Morlot, 36, will take over as the orchestra's music director in the fall of 2011. Morlot, a former assistant conductor under James Levine in Boston, who made his National Symphony Orchestra debut last fall, succeeds Gerard Schwarz, whose long tenure saw tangible improvements for the orchestra but also considerable dissent, to a degree extreme even for orchestras, within the ranks.

With this announcement, Seattle becomes the latest of a number of American orchestras to embrace a young, foreign-born conductor. Other high-profile examples include Philadelphia with Nézet-Séguin, Los Angeles with Gustavo Dudamel -- or, several years ago, Cleveland with Franz Welser-Möst, one experiment that, while Cleveland sticks to it assiduously, has not exactly set the music world on fire.

By Anne Midgette  |  June 30, 2010; 8:12 AM ET
Categories:  national , news  
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Somebody should snap Vasily Petrenko. Morlot did indeed make a good impression in his NSO debut, yet, at least to my taste, he did not stand out as more than yet another good conductor.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | June 30, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm reminded here of a quote, perhaps apochyphal, once attributed to Sir Thomas Beecham. At a time when London actually supported FIVE orchestras, each of which had non-British directors, Beecham supposedly said, "I see no reason why we hire third-rate conductors from the Continent for our orchestras when we have so many second-rate ones of our own."

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | June 30, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Always liked that Beecham quotation. And, last I checked, London still supports those five orchestras (and many more). And, all five still have non-British directors, though arguably most of them are now first-rate.

Posted by: newcriticalcritic | July 1, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

The thing is that London's orchestras always had first rate conductors, British or otherwise. Let's see:

London Symphony:
1904-1911 Hans Richter
1911-1912 Edward Elgar
1912-1914 Arthur Nikisch
1915-1916 Thomas Beecham
1919-1922 Albert Coates
1930-1931 Willem Mengelberg
1932-1935 Hamilton Harty
1950-1954 Josef Krips
1961-1964 Pierre Monteux
1965-1968 István Kertész
1968-1979 André Previn
1979-1988 Claudio Abbado
1987-1995 Michael Tilson Thomas
1995-2006 Colin Davis
2007-present Valery Gergiev

London Philharmonic:
1932-1939 Sir Thomas Beecham
1947-1950 Eduard van Beinum
1950-1957 Sir Adrian Boult
1958-1960 William Steinberg
1962-1966 Sir John Pritchard
1967-1979 Bernard Haitink
1979-1983 Sir Georg Solti
1983-1987 Klaus Tennstedt
1990-1996 Franz Welser-Möst (possible exception)
2000-2007 Kurt Masur
2007-present Vladimir Jurowski

BBC Symphony:
Adrian Boult (1930–1950)
Malcolm Sargent (1950–1957)
Rudolf Schwarz (1957–1963)
Antal Doráti (1962–1966)
Colin Davis (1967–1971)
Pierre Boulez (1971–1975)
Rudolf Kempe (1976)
Gennady Rozhdestvensky (1978–1981)
John Pritchard (1982–1989)
Andrew Davis (1989–2000)
Leonard Slatkin (2000–2004)
Jiří Bělohlávek (2006-present)
(some exceptions here.)

Otto Klemperer (1959-1973)
Riccardo Muti (1973-1982)
Giuseppe Sinopoli (1984-1994)
Christoph von Dohnányi (1997-2008)
Esa-Pekka Salonen (2008-present)

Royal Philharmonic:
Thomas Beecham (1946-1961, Music Director)
Rudolf Kempe (1961-1962, Principal Conductor; 1963-1975, Music Director)
Antal Doráti (1975-1978, Principal Conductor)
Walter Weller (1980-1985, Principal Conductor)
André Previn (1985-1988, Music Director; 1988-1992, Principal Conductor)
Vladimir Ashkenazy (1987-1994, Music Director)
Yuri Temirkanov (1992-1998, Principal Conductor)
Daniele Gatti (1996-2009, Music Director)
Charles Dutoit (2009-present, Principal Conductor)

Source: Wikipedia.

So yes, some less than greats, but mostly the best conductors of their eras.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | July 1, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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