If you haven't seen it yet, today we ran my story gauging PSO music director Manfred Honeck's potential with and for the PSO, complete with a video giving a glimpse of how he delves into pieces.
This article is the fourth in a four-part look at Honeck that developed over the last year and a half since he was named music director. I first visited his childhood home in Western Austria to talk with those who knew him then, to see how he was raised and what comprised his musical background, and to look at some events that helped shape his character later in his life:
I then went to Vienna to see what his life was like as a teenager in the conservatory and later as a young husband struggling to support his family, which culminated with a position in the Vienna Philharmonic:
And then, last week, I examined what Honeck did and what repertoire he focused on when he made the move to conductor, leaving the Vienna Phil:
Some of you no doubt have thought we had done too much coverage on Honeck, but there was a rhyme and reason to it: three periods of his past and then a look to the future. I wanted to give a full picture of this man who will be leading the biggest performing arts organization in Western Pa. at a time when it is a hard go economically to make an orchestra flourish. It is an important time for the PSO. Plus, Honeck is rather unknown -- I might not have written as much about his biography had he been as famous as Maazel when he came, or as Dutoit, who is now leading Philly (or even as Eschenbach, who today it was announced, will lead National SO). But much of Honeck's story is simply great stuff and a compelling read, so I am glad I went in such depth.
It is true that I have appreciated Honeck as a conductor so far, and I am looking forward to his concerts, but I am sure we will have some disagreements over interpretations or programming in the future. But as a person, he has already deeply impressed me and I think will really help the PSO, as they will help him with his career (not unlike what happened with Mariss Jansons). I look forward to adding "movements" to Honeck's "symphony" as time goes on.