But not so fast, says Barenboim. The New York Times quotes the Berlin-based conductor as saying, "nothing could be further from my thoughts at the moment than the possibility of returning to the United States for a permanent position."
The Times adds that Barenboim, while reportedly flattered by Maazel's proposal, thought it inappropriate to comment, as the suggestion was made by a colleague and was not a formal job offer from the Philharmonic's board.
Maazel's surprise announcement was made at a press conference to announce an international tour by a new Rome-based youth orchestra called Symphonica Toscanini, of which he is music director for life. An earlier article in the Times said that Maazel described Barenboim as having the right qualities for the music directorship, including a comprehensive repertory, administrative abilities, "reliable" conducting technique, in-depth musicianship and the "psychological maturity" to deal with a large group of musicians.
Maazel has reportedly already written to Paul B. Guenther, the Philharmonic's board chairman, with his suggestion.
Philharmonic spokesman Eric Latzky told the Times that the musicians admired Barenboim, who has only appeared with the orchestra once since 1990, on May 18, 2004. Latzy didn't comment, however, on whether Barenboim is being considered as Maazel's successor.
Barenboim, 64, who concluded his tenure at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in June, is the general music director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin and the main guest conductor at Milan's La Scala opera house. He also leads the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he helped found to unite young Arab and Israeli musicians.