The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Leading orchestra dismisses conductor Gatti after harassment allegations

Daniele Gatti conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in May. The orchestra has terminated its relationship with Gatti, its chief conductor.
Daniele Gatti conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in May. The orchestra has terminated its relationship with Gatti, its chief conductor. (Michaela Rihova/AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, considered by some to be the leading orchestra in the world, announced Thursday that it is terminating its relationship with its chief conductor, Daniele Gatti.

“On 26 July, The Washington Post published an article in which Gatti was accused of inappropriate behavior,” the orchestra said in a statement. “These accusations and Gatti’s reactions with this respect have caused a lot of commotion among both musicians and staff, as well as stakeholders both at home and abroad.

“Besides this,” it continued, “since the publication of the article in The Washington Post, a number of female colleagues of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra reported experiences with Gatti, which are inappropriate considering his position as chief conductor. This has irreparably damaged the relationship of trust between the orchestra and its chief conductor.”

The Post story alleged that Gatti had attacked two women in his dressing room in 1996 and 2000: Soprano Alicia Berneche said she found “his hands on my rear end, and his tongue down my throat.”

Classical musicians reveal a profession rife with harassment.

In a statement issued through his lawyer on Thursday, Gatti said that he is “extremely surprised” and “firmly denies all sorts of allegations.”

In an earlier statement, put out through his new publicity firm The Reputation Doctor, Gatti had issued a blanket apology.

“To all the women I have met in my entire life,” the apology said, “especially those who believe I did not treat them with the utmost respect and dignity they certainly deserve, I sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart.”

It continued: “Today and moving forward, I plan to focus much more on my behaviors and actions with all women. This includes women both young and old, to be sure no woman ever feels uncomfortable ever again, especially women that I work with in my profession in classical music. I am truly sorry.”

The three men accused in the Post story have suffered public consequences for what are alleged to be years of misbehavior. Bernard Uzan, the stage director and artist manager whom four women accused of harassing and assaulting them, announced Tuesday that he was quitting opera. And William Preucil, the concert­master of the Cleveland Orchestra, accused of assaulting a violinist in his hotel room and other inappropriate behavior, resigned from his teaching post at the Cleveland Institute of Music, was terminated from a visiting post at Furman University and had several concerts canceled. His orchestra has placed him on paid suspension pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

“All concerts planned with Daniele Gatti will proceed with other conductors,” the Concertgebouw wrote. This includes a performance Feb. 13 at the Kennedy Center on the orchestra’s U.S. tour.