Can't Munich hold on to any of their conductors? Kent Nagano has confirmed in an open letter what had been widely speculated - that he won't be seeking a renewal of his contract as music director of the Bavarian State Opera from 2013. Culture Minister Wolfgang Heubisch had said no announcement would be made until the autumn, so Nagano's gesture is, as he points out, a sensible alternative to months of speculation.
In the letter, Nagano pours oil on the flickering flames of controversy, admitting that "politico-cultural developments of recent months in Munich" played a part in his decision. He draws attention to the city's seeming inability to retain top-flight arts leaders, noting specifically the unexpected failure to renew the contract of the Gärtnerplatz State Theatre's director and the acrimonious, headline-making departure of Christian Thielemann from the Munich Philharmonic.
The conductor, hugely popular with the local operagoers, doesn't actually say that politicians should keep their noses out of the arts, but then he doesn't need to - events speak for themselves. At the very least it's another massive PR disaster for the government of a city that benefits heavily from cultural tourism in terms of both income and prestige.