Melvyn Krauss is a professional economist who often writes about music. He has published on music in the Wall Street Journal, Harper's, and Opera News. In his early years, he mostly spent his time in opera houses. But with the decline of great singers and production values, Mr. Krauss abandoned the opera house in favor of the concert hall where he found the standard of performing to be on a much higher level. He resides in Portola Valley, California with his wife Irene, two Irish setters, and two cats. He considers himself to be a New Yorker-in-exile.  
Europe is not #MeToo With America

Europe is not #MeToo With America

 Italian Conductor Daniele Gatti

Italian Conductor Daniele Gatti

The current political climate in the U.S. is such that if a symphony conductor is accused of sexual harassment, he is blacklisted by all the symphony orchestras in the country.

But with one notable exception, Europe is not America when it comes to alleged sexual assault violations.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam (RCO) has just fired its former chief conductor Daniele Gatti for alleged sexual harassment.  The charges have not been made public.  Only a handful of the Dutch players know the charges and they aren’t talking.

But the Dutch orchestra finds itself isolated in Europe for refusing to continue to work with the Italian maestro.

German symphony players, in particular, are refusing to BE a party to a ‘#MeToo’ blacklisting of the Italian maestro.

Gatti’s first major appearances after the Amsterdam debacle were with the Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich, and they were a grand success according to a Dutch reporter, Guido van Oorschot, who covered the event for the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

His conclusion: “Maestro Gatti is not the outcast of the orchestra world.”

The German orchestra is led by former RCO chief conductor Mariss Jansons. Before the performances, Jansons canvassed the players to see if there were any objections to working with Gatti. There were none.

The Bavarian players—and Jansons-- refused to blackball Gatti solely on the basis that the Dutch orchestra had thrown him out.

Good for them!

Oorschot reports similar reactions from the players in the Mahler Chamber Orchestra based in Berlin and Leipzig’s legendary Gewandhausorkest.

The reported behavior of Russian super star conductor Valery Gergiev bears special mention. The Russian maestro went out of his way to show support for Gatti by offering him a few NEW performances in Saint Petersburg for this November.

Gergiev has a long history with the RCO and is known to have a close relationship with RCO General Manager Jan Raes. Odd that he would so publicly identify himself with the dismissed Italian maestro who was pushed out by the Dutch orchestra.

Make no mistake about it--Amsterdam is paying a price in the music world for its harsh treatment of Gatti.

Rumors are that several conductors are unwilling to work with the Amsterdam orchestra because of the way Gatti has been treated.

As for the Amsterdam players, they are deeply demoralized by the overwhelming support Gatti is receiving from players in other European orchestras and the fact that they are being kept in the dark by management according to my sources. Some feel intimidated to speak out.

But as long as Raes and the RCO board refuse to make the specific charges against Gatti public so people can judge for themselves, the Dutch orchestra will remain under a cloud with possible adverse consequences for the RCO brand.

Raes and the RCO board need to stop hiding behind the lawyers and offer the Dutch public, who finance this operation, an immediate, adequate and convincing explanation.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Gatti affair is how the European orchestras refuse to behave like American ones when confronted by secret charges and abrupt firings by artistic managements and boards that are running scared of #MeToo mania.

Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic