At the CDU party conference in Hamburg, which saw Merkel-protege Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer elected as the new party leader, the chancellor was presented with a framed music baton. It was the one used by Kent Nagano to conduct a Beethoven concert at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie concert hall during last year’s G20 summit.
While the gift was intended to represent the fact that Merkel is a lover of classical music and that she has been a “most important conductor of world politics,” it didn’t quite come across that way.
The Hamburg G20 gathering was hardly a high point in Merkel’s long leadership of the party. In fact, while world leaders were sitting inside the concert hall enjoying ‘Ode to Joy’, tear gas and water cannons were being deployed to disperse violent protesters just outside.
The irony of the gift was not lost on many Germans who took to Twitter to express surprise at the choice.
“Who doesn’t want to recall those great days in Hamburg?” one user wrote, posting a video of the musical performance alongside violent protests raging outside the concert hall.
“Ouch! Does Merkel have very good memories of that?” wrote another.
One person joked that it was actually quite a “fitting” gift, since the construction of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall took “about as long as Merkel’s party chairmanship and chancellorship” — a reference to the fact that the venue opened seven years behind schedule and ten times over-budget.
The baton would act as “a reminder of that great moment of her chancellorship, when street war played out in Hamburg but she was enjoying a super beautiful concert” at the Elbphilharmonie, said others.
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