Thursday, June 30, 2011

My dream job

Today the Wall Street Journal has a huge story about the Naples Philharmonic in Florida getting a new executive director, Kathleen van Bergen. To be honest I am really tired of thinking about orchestras and their problems. I just am. But there is one fascinating thing in this story.

That is the job that this Kathleen van Bergen is leaving.

She is, or was, the artistic director of the Schubert Club in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Schubert Club!

Imagine that!

Monday mornings would be less onerous if instead of going into an office like everyone else, to meet my deadlines and squabble with my supervisors, I was beginning a new work week at the helm of the Schubert Club. I would spend my days listening to Schubert. Perhaps I could call musicians and talk about Schubert. I would spearhead and implement educational programs involving Schubert.

I could spend days adjudicating whose version of "Normans Gesang" is superior, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's or Thomas Hampson's.

My head spins to think about it.

Just to say it. You are at a party and someone asks, "So what do you do?" And you get to take a sip of wine or beer, as the case may be, and reply: "I am the director of the Schubert Club."

How did this woman get a job like that, and why would you ever leave it?

Looking up the Schubert Club the story just gets better. They have the coveted domain name They have programs coming up featuring Susan Graham and Malcolm Martineau and -- slaver! -- Matthias Goerne and Leif-Ove Andsnes. We never get lieder in Buffalo.

What Schubert are these people performing? Let me check.

Well, now I am a little less jealous. Susan Graham is singing a "predominantly German" program with a little Schubert but also Purcell, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Duparc, Sondheim, Noel Coward, etc. Sondheim, what the heck? Why do they have to throw in Sondheim? Let these Sondheim fans have their own club.

Goerne is singing Mahler and Shostakovich. Nothing against them but ... who is supposed to be the reason for the season? Schubert!

The instrumentalists are not much better. Violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Andrew von Oeyen include no Schubert on their program. Neither do violinist Julia Fischer and pianist Milana Chernyavska. Andre Watts is playing Liszt -- probably the same program he played recently here which, while dazzling, is not Schubert.


No wonder Kathleen van Bergen is leaving.

Perhaps I should declare my candidacy for her job.

Someone had to bring Schubert back to the Schubert Club!


  1. No, it not all Schubert all the time here at the Schubert Club, but it is a swell place to work nevertheless. And Kathleen van Bergen will be sorely missed! She is a great boss; you might think about applying for a job at the Naples Phil!

  2. Wow, what an honor, to hear from a member of the Schubert Club! David, what is your favorite Schubert song? You are allowed to narrow it to the top 10 if you need to.

  3. It is hard to choose! "An die Musik" is sort of a theme song around here, and also the title of our program booklet. But then there is "Die Taubenpost." And "Der Leiermann." And, wait, wait, "Der Hirt auf dem Felsen." Yes, near the end of our last six-month-long winter, I was listening with increasing desperation to that line in the third section, "Der Frühling will kommen."

    Your favorites?

  4. David, yesterday, just reading what you wrote was enough for me to have "Taubenpost" on my brain for the rest of the day! I love all the songs you mentioned. "Der Leiermann," so haunting.

    I would love to list a few of my favorites. For now, I need a day just to savor that someone asked me what my favorite Schubert songs are. "What are your favorite Schubert songs?" I have waited my whole life to be asked that question!!