The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Symphony Orchestras start their seasons with a strike by the players. | October 2, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

The new concert season is just getting under way.

But not all is happy news and gala events.

Two of the country’s best and most respected orchestras — the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Symphony Orchestras – have gone on strike. Issues include pay cuts, salary raises and reduced staff.

Performances were cancelled.

The Philadelphians even walked out right on opening night (below, in two photos by Mark Makela for The New York Times). And they played in the streets.

The Fort Worth Symphony in Texas is also out on strike.


Here is a fine story, with a lot of background, from The New York Times:

And here is a story from The Washington Post with other details:


It is enough to deepen your appreciation for the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below top), which very successfully opened its season last weekend, and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below bottom), which will open its season in two weeks.

John DeMain and MSO from the stage Greg Anderson

WCO lobby

Here is a link to several reviews and a reprise of the opening MSO concert:

Long live labor peace in Madison and its performing arts groups!


  1. Fascinating stories, especially the discontent coming out in Philly and the news that their musicians are getting significantly less pay than those in the BSO and the San Francisco Symphony (24% less).

    I think classical music in Madison has been successful:

    1) because the city itself is growing and expanding;
    2) due to Overture Hall (this cannot be underestimated) and its assistance to the bottom line of artistic groups and its pull in attendance;
    3) because of the university’s presence, as well as other companies/corporations that nurture creativity.
    4) because the area has a terrific educational system which feeds into classical music. The area in turn attracts those with creativity, artistic and musical talents.

    Sorry, but I suspect it has little to do with leadership of the local orchestras because those leaders are very, very conservative musically speaking. They are certainly not on a par with the leadership of the groups that are now striking.

    And let’s face it: growth is occurring out West and in Boston but not so much in Philly and Pittsburgh. Kind of like the situation in Milwaukee which is also stagnating both economically and as an orchestra (I believe they have cut back orchestra member numbers there significantly in recent years). The Bay Area, with its connection to the silicon valley, is especially lucky and lucrative. It is no surprise too, that universities there (Berkeley and Stanford) are thriving.


    Comment by fflambeau — October 2, 2016 @ 1:04 pm

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