Monday, December 01, 2008


The JDCMB Poll of the World's Greatest Conductors has ended with a clear vote giving CLAUDIO ABBADO the laurel wreath, streets ahead of everyone else.

Readers wrote in with their nominations and the final ten on whom we voted were those who received the most nominations - four or more. 303 votes were placed and the interesting results make me wonder whether I may have a strong clique of readers up in Manchester.

Abbado, whose performances with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra last year drew reviews of the kind you do not read more than once a decade, finished in first place with 27 per cent of the vote. Bernard Haitink was second, lagging considerably, at 15 per cent. A surprise third place went to the young Gianandrea Noseda, principal conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, with 9 per cent; Charles Mackerras was snapping at his heels fourth with just two fewer votes. Gergiev and Levine tied fifth, Rattle was just behind at sixth, and then (!) Pierre Boulez. My condolences to Muti, who pulled in eighth with 4 per cent, and valiantly bringing up the rear was John Eliot Gardiner, who won just 3 per cent with ten votes.

Noseda was the wild card and the reason that polls like this can be so interesting. Neither of the Southbank supremos, Jurowski and Salonen, receiving two nominations apiece, made the final ten. Such eminences as Eschenbach and Temirkanov were not even mentioned at stage 1; Masur, Sawallisch and Maazel each had only one nomination. Barenboim, with three, fell just short of the final list.

The idea of this contest was that it should be an utterly transparent People's Poll, in which I serve only as initiator and moderator, nominating just four names to start things off and voting once like everyone else (Haitink, since you ask). Thanks to everyone who joined in.

So, bravo Abbado! And we're left wondering whether Noseda is the face of the future...