BERLIN (AP) — Conductor Daniel Barenboim is getting a five-year contract extension as general music director of Berlin’s Staatsoper, which would keep the maestro at the opera house until 2027, the city government said Tuesday.
Klaus Lederer, Berlin’s state culture minister, said an “overwhelming majority” of the opera’s Staatskapelle orchestra wanted to keep Barenboim, 76, who has led it since 1992.
Barenboim said he was “very grateful” that the orchestra wanted to extend his tenure. Referring to his age, he said he had frequently told the musicians that he would stay as long as his strength allows and the orchestra wants. “That means that, if my strength declines, I will go immediately because I don’t want to be kept here as a relic out of loyalty.”
He told reporters that “I am in very good health.”
Earlier this year, there were reports that former orchestra members were complaining about Barenboim’s allegedly autocratic leadership style. He rejected the accusations, saying at the time that their appearance during contract negotiations seemed aimed at preventing him staying on in Berlin.
The state culture minister said an examination of the complaints showed that “no legally relevant accusations could be substantiated” but all concerned were willing to work on avoiding tensions in the future.
Susanne Schergaut, a representative of the orchestra’s musicians, strongly backed Barenboim.
“Daniel Barenboim has been our boss for 28 years now,” she said. “If you work as intensely, as passionately and as demandingly as he does, it is in the nature of things that controversies arise. But his door was always open for discussions, and we have had some.”
She said the orchestra had become “more open” and Barenboim had made clear his willingness to pursue a good working atmosphere.
Asked what changes he might make, the conductor said: “I’ll tell the orchestra that.”