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Monday, 18 June, 2001, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Berlin Philharmonic in musical walkout
Sir Simon Rattle
The crisis comes as Rattle plans to take over as conductor
The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra staged a musical protest on Sunday evening, playing the last movement of Joseph Haydn's Farewell Symphony - during which the musicians left the stage one-by-one during the final adagio.

The gesture was meant as a protest at the German capital's current financial and political crisis - which now threatens to jeopardise the appointment of Sir Simon Rattle as the orchestra's new chief conductor.

Sir Simon was named the orchestra's new music director two years ago and is scheduled to take up his new position in September 2002.

But the conductor has still has not signed his contract, because he is waiting for assurances of better pay for the orchestra's musicians - who are paid less than most of their German counterparts.

Crisis

Sir Simon is also supporting those who want to turn the orchestra into an independently-run foundation which has more say over its own finances.

Berlin's town hall
Berlin's town hall, where the governing coalition has collapsed
But the Berlin city government has just been plunged into a financial crisis and the ruling coalition has collapsed.

A bill which would have paved the way for more independence for the Berlin Philharmonic was due to go before Berlin's parliament on Thursday - but now the reading has been postponed amidst political turmoil.

A spokesman for the orchestra said that Sir Simon had already expressed impatience that his contract was not yet signed and sealed.

Sir Simon's spokeswoman in Britain declined to comment on the situation.

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See also:

07 Jun 01 | Europe
Berlin city coalition collapses
15 Jun 01 | Music
Sir Colin Davis' musical honour
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