Christoph Eschenbach, who headed the Houston Symphony for most of the `90s, has got his own self a new, high-profile job -- leader of the National Symphony in Washington.
The Washington Post reports the decision was announced by the Kennedy Center last night.
Eschenbach had recently been conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra until he left in a dispute. The National Symphony is not exactly considered a step up from that post.
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The Post makes note of his Houston stint, but doesn't seem overwhelmed:
But Eschenbach also brings considerable baggage. While he has had some noteworthy successes -- his tenure from 1988 to 1999 as music director of the Houston Symphony, in particular, made waves on the American orchestral scene -- they have not always been with the really top orchestras. And behind the glamorous podium appearances there is a faint background hum about sloppy rehearsals, impulsive musical decisions and, perhaps worst, a lack of authority....Eschenbach has been seen by some as something of a has-been after the Philadelphia episode. For this very reason, the NSO may prove a good fit: a chance for both him and the orchestra to reinvent themselves after periods of what has widely been viewed as stagnation.
One thing's for sure, if Eschenbach's Houston time is any indication: ads for the National Symphony will prominently feature his picture, as often as possible.
-- Richard Connelly