Posts Tagged ‘Horst Seehofer’

Ministry Split, Minister Fired

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Ludwig Spaenle, Bavaria’s former Kultusminister

Published: March 21, 2018

MUNICH — Bavaria’s Culture Ministry, responsible for Bayerische Staatsoper and Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz, among many other entities, underwent a sudden double shake-up this morning with the firing of its cheerful chief, Ludwig Spaenle, and an organizational severing into two parts.

Bernd Sibler, 47, is the new Kultusminister. The former Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Bildung und Kultus, Wissenschaft und Kunst (Bavarian State Ministry of Education and Culture, Science and Art) is now two ministries, divided at that comma for the third time in its history. In a more subtle change, the word Bildung (learning) has been replaced with the sterner term Unterricht (instruction).

The shake-up came at the behest of Bavaria’s forceful new Minister-Präsident, Markus Söder, 51, who replaced Horst Seehofer when the latter joined Angela Merkel’s cabinet in Berlin last week as Federal Minister of the Interior. (The two are pictured.) Merkel and Seehofer, who differ on the sore topic of immigration, belong to the CDU party and its Bavarian ally, the CSU, respectively. Söder and Sibler are CSU members.

It is unclear what moves Söder, through Sibler, will make on Bavaria’s lavish arts budgets. He has been Seehofer’s Finanzminister these last seven years, and known as a fiscal hawk not much connected to the classical music scene.

Bavarian King Ludwig I established the Culture Ministry in 1847, soon broadening it to embrace “all aspects of upbringing, instruction, morals, spiritual and artistic learning, and the institutions for them.” It became a state body in 1918, when the monarchy fell; a purveyor of Nazi ideology in schools and universities, art and culture, in 1933; and a champion of freedom, rule of law, and democracy after the Second World War.

Minister-Präsident Franz Josef Strauß in 1986 was the first to divide the ministry, on the pattern now mimicked by Söder. It was reunited in 1990, divided again eight years later, and reunited in 2013. Its spiritual mandate never disappeared: Kultus means worship, or adoration, as well as culture.

Photo © Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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Concert Hall Design Chosen

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Architectural design winner for Munich’s future Konzerthaus

Published: October 27, 2017

MUNICH — Though it will be built on the wrong side of the wrong train station, Munich’s much-debated, much-delayed new concert hall crept toward reality today with the announcement of a winning design. Bregenz-based Cukrowicz Nachbaur Architekten secured first place in the competition for the venue, now dubbed “Münchner Konzerthaus” (instead of “Konzertsaal München” or “Neues Odeon”), said Bavaria’s Interior Ministry. A 25-person jury reviewed thirty-odd designs yesterday and this morning at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater before reaching its decision. Details will be given tomorrow at a news conference; seating capacity may be stated as 1,800 with project cost at €300 million.

All being well, which is saying a lot in this city on this subject, a bulbous glassy prism with its top planed off will as early as 2019 start to rise just east of Munich East train station on blighted land long home to a Knödel factory. In it symphonic music will be played to audiences larger than at the Herkulessaal and with better acoustics than at the Gasteig, Munich’s two problematic existing halls. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra will for the first time in its seven-decade history have a home.

But things going smoothly won’t change the location. Questions that have been asked since the site was announced two years ago — out of the blue, in a political about-face after it seemed the whole new-hall idea had been killed by Bürgermeister Dieter Reiter and Bavaria’s Minister-Präsident Horst Seehofer, and following twenty years of consideration of some half-dozen other sites — are stark and tinged with disbelief that a prime location was not feasible. Will people want to travel outside Munich’s historic core for art music? Will concertgoers coming into town from the suburbs want to change trains at Munich Central Station, ride five stops to Munich East, another hub, and then walk 200 meters further east? One would think not. The very benefit of siting the new hall in this drab place, that it could be built expeditiously, may limit its success.

Illustrations © Hans-Joachim Wuthenow

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Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Semyon Bychkov in 2013 in London

Published: June 25, 2015

MUNICH — 2014–15 has been a rough transitional season for the Munich Philharmonic. Lorin Maazel’s sudden resignation a year ago forced its managers into much recasting, and some feeble programs. Then, midseason, came worse news. An irksome pact between Munich’s Bürgermeister Dieter Reiter and Bavaria’s Minister-Präsident Horst Seehofer nixed plans for a needed new concert hall to replace the Gasteig and instead envisioned a joyously slow disemboweling and inner rearrangement of that acoustically poor facility, which would leave the MPhil homeless starting in 2020. The pact sent Anne-Sophie Mutter, Christian Gerhaher and Mariss Jansons into public displays of betrayal, rage and frustration, respectively. But MPhil managers could not whine so loudly because the city owns the orchestra, so, a week behind everyone else, including the testy Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (also affected), they emitted six splendid bureaucratic paragraphs saying absolutely nothing.

Somehow the musicians have ploughed through this temporum horribilis and on Monday (June 22) managed to sound confident and poised at the Gasteig under Semyon Bychkov. Grandly he propelled them in Brahms’s Third Symphony (1883) stressing contrasts and drama with wide arm gestures. Fine wind contributions, not least from principal horn Jörg Brückner, flattered the score’s textures, and Bychkov took a pleasingly weighty and leisurely approach to the middle movements, observing dynamic markings with care. Ravel’s G-Major Piano Concerto (1931) after the break found everyone on less sure footing, however, despite this being the program’s third iteration. Jean-Yves Thibaudet gave a dull, woolly account of the solo part. Ensemble weakened. The long concert remained in French mode for its conclusion, Debussy’s La Mer (1905), but this listener had to run.

Tomorrow, the same partnership performs in the Pala de Andrè as a guest of the Ravenna Festival. MPhil 2014–15 closes fully with concerts here led by Kent Nagano and Krzysztof Urbański, but in September more headaches loom when Valery Gergiev takes over as Chefdirigent. Systems are supposedly in place to prevent the skimpiness of preparation associated with the new boss. It is unclear what, if any, measures are in place to cope with the political challenge.

Photo © Chris Christodoulou

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