and Christoph von Dohnányi (1984-2002) suffered no fools. But together these men built the Cleveland into what is widely regarded as the most virtuosic orchestra in America, an orchestra capable of playing anything and playing it superbly.
Hand chosen by the orchestra and Dohnányi to be his successor, Franz Welser-Möst is a brash young conductor who has been described by players and critics as abrasive, dictatorial, occasionally brilliant, and often boring. As music director of the London Philharmonic for six stormy years, Welser-Möst publicly fired a first-desk violinist, quickly alienated most of the rest of the musicians, and ultimately packed up and left London altogether. Indeed, the stories of Welser-Möst's behavior have become almost legendary: he once walked out of rehearsals with the Vienna Symphony because he was offended by their remarks on the music he had programmed; he refused to substitute-conduct for an underrehearsed Magic Flute; and finally, fed up with what he called "Austrian condescension," he turned in his passport and took up citizenship in Liechtenstein.
But for all his prima-donna tendencies, Welser-Möst has also been praised for his inspiration. According to reports in the London press, he has led some of the most exciting — and some of the most enervating — concerts London audiences and critics have ever heard.