Seattle Maestro Abruptly Quits, Saying He Felt 'Threatened'

The 'New York Times' calls it 'an unusually bitter, and open, rupture'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2022 2:00 AM CST
Updated Jan 12, 2022 6:33 AM CST
Seattle Maestro Abruptly Resigns, Saying He Felt 'Threatened'
In this photo provided by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra performs The Genesis Suite in May 2008, as an image created by glass artist Dale Chihuly is projected behind the orchestra.   (AP Photo/Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Scott Mitchell Leen)

The maestro of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra resigned abruptly on Jan. 3 in an email sent from his home in Denmark. The Seattle Times reported last week that now-former music director Thomas Dausgaard said in a Symphony news release that his decision was "a result of these pandemic times, which centers the question for us all: how do we value our lives?" Now, the New York Times has more on the drama between the orchestra and Dausgaard, which intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dausgaard, who started appearing as a guest with the symphony in 2010 before becoming principal guest conductor in 2014, gave his first public comments since his resignation in an interview with the newspaper.

He says he felt the symphony's culture had become "ruled by fear," and that he "felt personally not safe. I felt threatened." He did not give many details, but said he had problems he expressed to the orchestra's managers and that they were not taken seriously; he claims the administration tried to silence and intimidate him. The chairman of the orchestra's board says there's "no accuracy" to any of his claims, and anonymous sources tell the Times it was actually the board that was unhappy with Dausgaard and that it had decided in November not to renew his contract, which went through the 2022-23 season. His exit more than a year before the contract's end left the orchestra "blindsided" and "scrambling" for replacements, per the Times. The full story, which also goes into how Dausgaard getting stuck abroad during the pandemic contributed to the problems, is here. (More Seattle stories.)

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