Ending speculation about his professional future, Franz Xaver Ohnesorg has announced his departure as Carnegie Hall's executive and artistic director. His tenure at the famed hall will end August 31, at which time he will take on the head position with the Berlin Philharmonic.
"Weighing carefully Carnegie Hall's future opportunities and the current needs of the Berlin Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall's generosity of spirit permits me to make my very personal decision to go back to Europe and to serve at a very crucial time one of the most important orchestras of the world," the 52-year old Ohnesorg said in a statement.
There had been reports of disputes between Ohnesorg and the hall's staff, which had allegedly led to the departures of four senior staff members. There was also an anonymous letter sent by hall employees to various news organizations criticizing Ohnesorg's management style.
In his final Sunday column, New York Times senior music critic Bernard Holland used the opportunity to assail Ohnesorg's treatment of his staff.
"Maybe the Carnegie staff has not done its job and is being told so in no uncertain terms," Holland wrote. "Yet having observed the people who seem to be fleeing pell-mell from the building, I find that notion hard to believe."
Ohnesorg took the position at Carnegie Hall just over a year ago, succeeding the late Judith Arron. Carnegie Hall president Isaac Stern praised Ohnesorg for his contributions.
"Xaver Ohnesorg has brought tremendous artistic and creative energy and vaulting imagination to Carnegie Hall," Stern said. "He has maintained and lifted the extraordinary level of artistic presentations established during the Hall's history, backed by his professional expertise, musicianship and his close friendship with leading artists and composers of our time.... We at Carnegie, as well as his many friends in the music world everywhere, wish him well and thank him for his valiant efforts and his artistic legacy."
Ohnesorg is the former director of the Cologne (Germany) Philharmonic, where he worked before coming to Carnegie Hall. His new position at the Berlin Philharmonic will include supervising the changeover when conductor Claudio Abbado leaves in 2002 and is succeeded by Sir Simon Rattle.