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Kate MüserMay 12, 2015

The Berlin Philharmonic has always known how to put on a good show. Their 11-hour deliberations failed to result in a successor for chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle, but entertained and annoyed the culture world.

Berlin Philharmonic rehearses with Sir Simon Rattle, Copyright: EPA/Jakub Kaminski
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Kaminski

Getting 124 people to agree requires more endurance than sitting through an epic Wagner opera. That's the number of permanent musicians in the orchestra. The Berlin Philharmonic is the only orchestra in the world in which the musicians select their own principal conductor.

As deliberations in Berlin waxed long on Monday, May 11, Twitter was alight with speculations on who the lucky candidate would be. Not all of them were entirely serious.

Other theories about the reasons behind the endless rounds of voting were more realistic, though the Berlin Philharmonic did not confirm that any offers had been made to potential candidates. Favorites included Christian Thielemann, Andris Nelsons and Gustav Dudamel.

Given the secrecy of the deliberations, the fact that the musicians met in a church, and the prestige of the position at stake, it wasn't surprising that the event was compared to the papal election. "Thick air instead of white smoke," wrote Dieter Schnaas.

Though it's unclear exactly why the orchestra failed to reach a decision and postponed the election for another year, they certainly managed to stir up excitement with the wait.

Berlin, as it were, is famous for waiting - particularly for its still unfinished international airport. #BER was also favorite hashtag. "At the moment it looks like #BER will be finished before a new maestro is found for the Berlin Philharmonic," wrote Florian K.

Nevertheless, Sir Simon Rattle's contract continues until 2018, so what's the rush? A good musician manages to employ artistic tension to keep the audience's attention throughout the whole piece of music. But there was even speculation that the orchestra would prefer to remain headless - which is not unheard of but would set precedence for an ensemble of that size.

Now recovering from the Twitter storm, all classical music fans can do is wait - and enjoy the next few years with Sir Simon Rattle in Berlin.