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Open Letter of a Geneva Citizen to N. Lebrecht


As the entire musical world knows, all the facts you report and the opinions you express in your articles, books and on your blog are the subject of particularly rigorous research.

This explains my surprise that I do not recognize the musical life of Geneva as you describe it in
blog entry of this week.

First, the Swiss Romande Orchestra (OSR) had as musical directors before Armin Jordan (and not Jordain as you write it) no less than Wolfgang Sawallisch and Horst Stein. The latter remained in the position for an important 15 years significant period, which, as you would agree, confirms their loyalty to the orchestra.

The current musical director of the OSR is Marek Janowski who is unanimously acknowledged to have having raised the general level of the Orchestra. We are at a time when orchestras are rarely in studios and have to rely on live concert takes to publish recordings. Do correct me if I am wrong but the OSR is the last orchestra to have the privilege to record a full cycle of Bruckner Symphonies. I also recommend to you to listen to the two Bartok’s Violin Concertos which the OSR recorded with Arabella Steinbacher.

As you must certainly be aware, the OSR shares its time between the symphonic season and the Opera. In this area, the Romandie area has had a significant impact in the world of the Opera in general. There is no need to remind you that one of the former directors of the “Grand Théatre” is credited with the turnaround of the Opéra Bastille and one of his former colleagues who used to work in Lausanne has rather visible functions in Austria.

Since we are mentioning the Romandie, I am sure you know that in an area of two million habitants live, the musical life includes two Operas, one in Geneva and one in Lausanne, the OSR has its own Symphonic season, the Contrechamps ensemble promotes modern music with enthusiasm, the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne and that of Geneva are also very active and I have to apologize for all those which I have forgotten. Please note that the Romandie is particularly sensitive to young musicians and organizes each year the Geneva Competition from which I let to you appreciate the list of the prize winners.

Last, I think that you evoke football so let me inform you that while Fifa is indeed in Switzerland, it based is in Zurich and not in Geneva.

I must say however, that what saddened me the most is that you affirm that Geneva is one of the most boring cities in the world. It would probably be necessary to spend more time defining what boring really means. A review of your articles shows that you find more to mention reviewing the more dramatic musical life of countries like Brazil, England or Holland.

I am sorry but this is not the case of the musical institutions of Romandie which are very healthy, thank you. They are well managed and therefore do not make the first page of the tabloids. In how many countries could one say that ? If living in a boring country has its consequence, it is that performances are rehearsed with care.

Boring must not be good for newspapers but in the end, would not the entire world of music be better if it were “boring” as in Geneva ?

Best Regards

Antoine Leboyer



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