It's been nearly two years since the great American conductor James Levine was forced to resign from the Boston symphony because of serious back trouble , sciatica, arm tremors and other ailments . He has not conducted at the Metropolitan opera, his longtime post , for nearly as long . He remains technically musical director there and continues to work with singers etc , but Italian maestro Fabio luisi has assumed the post of prinicpal conductor for the time being and has taken over much of Levine's work .
But the Boston symphony continues to languish without a music director , and has had to rely on a steady stream of geust conductors, some of whom could possibly be appointed as Levine's successor . The veteran Dutch maestro Bernard Haitink , 83, ha sbeen a steady presence with the orchestra for many years and is greatly repsected , but is too old for the job . Younger conductors such as the rising Latvian Andris Nelsons have been touted as possible choices , and neslons had had considerable success in Boston so far .
But it is definitely not a good idea for a world-class and storied orchestra like the B.S.O. to go on without someone in control ; music directors in American orchestras have the final say in deciding which candidates get the job at auditions after much deliberation by the audition committee, the musicians in the orchestra who choose the finalists from the preliminary rounds to be advanced to the final audition , and there are many other administrative tasks and decisions to be made by the man (or possibly, the woman,) in charge .
After the brief term of Christoph Eschenbach , now with the Washoington National symphony with the Philadelphia orchestra several years ago , the orchestra was able to obtain the services of th eveteran Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit as a caretaker principal conductor for a time until the recent choice of young French-Canadian Yannick-Nezet-Seguin, who is now in his honeymoon with the "Fabulous Philadelphians" ,as they have come to be known .
After Daniel Barenboim stepped down from the Chicago symphony several years ago, the orchestra appointed a caretaker team of Bernard Haitink and Pierre Boulez until Riccardo Muti was chosen as the new music director .
Choosing a new music director is never an easy task ; the orchestra's administration and the members of the orchestra must find someone who is felt to be right for the job . But there are so many distinguished ocnductors in so many different posts that it's hard to find someone who is willing to take the job on many occaisions . The orchestra will invite a number of guest conductors to lead concerts , and sometimes a dark horse who makes a highly favorable impression on the musicians and audiences . after making a debut . Sometimes it is a conductor who has been a regular guest .
There are more orchestras an dopera companies thna ever before , and they all have to vie for the services of a limited number of conductors . No conductor can lead every performance throughout the season . This is simply unfeasable . Coordinating the schedules of all these different orchestras etc is rather like a jigsaw puzzle of the most difficult kind .
Sometimes an orchestra may want a particular conductor but he or she may simply be too busy with a post of his own somewhere . There are many rpomising young conductors in the 20s and 30s beginning to make international careers , but appointing them to a prestigious post such as Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or various major European cities could be rsiky, given their inexperience .
Bu tlet's all with the administration and musicians of the Boston symphony good luck in fdinding the right maestro for the job as soon as possible . James Levine is scheduled to return to the Met beginning next season, and let's all wish him a speedy recovery, too .