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Why the Wall St Journal is wrong on the Pittsburgh strike

October 21, 2016 by norman lebrecht

65 comments.


The ever-readable Terry Teachout argues today in the Journal that orchestral musicians should not expect to be paid more in 2016 because two generation ago they were paid far less.

In a closing paragraph: Orchestra players would do well to remember how far they’ve come. Six decades ago, the members of one of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras sold cars and wristwatches to make ends meet. They didn’t deserve it then and they don’t deserve it now—but that’s the kind of thing that can end up happening in a world that doesn’t value your services as highly as you do.

There are horrible cracks in this argument and I can’t enumerate them all, but these are the main ones.

1 Terry mentions the value of services. He’s right. Isaac Stern told me that when he was growing up in 1920s San Francisco ‘a musician in the orchestra was a person‘ – even if he earned a pittance. He had social status. As that status declined it had to be replaced with other compensations or orchestral life would have ceased to exist. So wages rose.

2 Orchestras live off prestige. They need to attract the best players they can afford. If you pay them less than the market rate, they will go to LA or New York and Pittsburgh (or wherever) will lose whatever glory it needs to persuade donors to fund its continued existence and the public to attend concerts.

3 Six decades ago, people who worked in banking received modest compensation. How long does the Wall Street Journal think Goldman Sachs would survive if it paid 1950s rates?

4 An orchestra is a dynamic organism. It composition and internal relationships have changed beyond recognition in Terry’s lifetime and mine. The conductor used to be a dictator; today the role is more a negotiator. The ensemble used to be overwhelmingly male; now it might be majority female. Past comparisons become futile in such circumstances.

5 In Pittsburgh and Fort Worth – and in Philadelphia – an aggressive board and an overpaid manager tried to force musicians to accept ‘inevitable’ pay cuts. Not to forgo a pay increase but actually to take a step back into the half-forgotten past and forgo a decent wage, knowing that next time round they will have to give up even more. There was no negotiation, only ultimatum.

6 We have published testimony from musicians in these orchestras – a single parent, for instance – who simply cannot live on what the orchestra pays. So how does that differ from the indigent past?

fort-worth-symphony

 


Comments (65)

  1. Ken Meltzer says:

    Of equal (and probably even greater) importance is the PSO management’s demand that it have total control over the number of Musicians in the Orchestra. That was a non-starter for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Musicians a few years ago, and I suspect it will be for the PSO Musicians as well.

  2. milka says:

    What is being missed in conversation is that no one owes the symphony players a living . They are not at gun point being forced tp be symphony players , it is all a gamble except
    for most string players who thought they would be the next Heifetz and now must settle for orchestral player at best .It is supply , demand and patrons .
    If the people of Pittsburgh do not feel they need support such things as a symphony
    and patrons cannot be found to take up the slack then tough cookies ,join the rest of
    the population looking for decent work and pay .The arrogance to think they are
    deserving of special attention is a bit much .

    1. NYMike says:

      Hey Milka – ever work in the field?? You’re seem to be nothing but a negative bystander.

      1. milka says:

        Yes… on both sides …from being paid anything at all to you’re joking.
        From hoping for a contract to squeezing the last nickel out of a contract.
        Not once did I think anyone owed me a living ,the thought was always here I am this is what I do,showing up the local union hall,smoozing making contacts, the musicians’
        life…until one day you are the one calling the game.

        1. AnnaT says:

          This is one of the few remaining unionized sectors that provides anything like stable employment and decent benefits–ie, the building blocks of the American middle-class lifestyle. Rather than insisting that orchestral musicians cheerily join the ever-growing precariat, why not advocate for other workers to demand better conditions within their own sectors? Why basically argue that the downward spiral–based on “market” forces and logic–is the inevitable outcome of any labor dispute? The argument that since other workers are precariously employed and underpaid, musicians should be too, is a terrible one, and above all a sad one.

          1. TwoDucks says:

            Arrogance? Try Teachout who is just a shill to the 1%. Or Milka who advocates that the arts are just another commodity and basically unessential. Hope Trump satiates your mind soul.

          2. Clevelandviolin says:

            Thank you, Mr. Lebrecht, for your support of a shrinking oasis of stability in symphony orchestras.
            What is not often mentioned, is that the entire number musicians in the top 10 US orchestras at 100 players per orchesta, is, nationwide only 1000 musicians! This means, in an entire job sector, there are only 1000 people making six figures and above incomes. Most people earning a living in classical music do so part time and are barely squeaking by, just like the WSJ describes.
            The players in these top 10 orchestras are the equivalent of the major-league sports players, CEO’a, senior lawyers and top doctors. Over 200 resumes come to our orchestra for every single position advertised.
            These big orchestras are the top destination in terms of salary and stability and very few players make it in.
            Instead of pushing so hard for musicians in these top teams to make less money, why not go after CEO’s, doctors, lawyers and sports players at the tops of their fields who certainly make way more? The financial benefit would be far greater!

          3. Laura Farrell says:

            USA based orchestras suffer from falls in audiences and philanthropic funding more than Europeans because it’s often their only income. The devil had been in the detail in many of these disputes, with overpaid management coming across as a common theme. While the wsj had some point in suggesting demand might be a problem, very often this is connected to poor management, as may be the case here.

          4. bratschegirl says:

            Hear hear, Annat!

        2. Jim Ryon says:

          Hey Milka…..You talk like the opposite of anyone who possesses an appreciation and a rudimentary knowledge of how the arts have defined civilization. Go back to your high paying banking job.

          1. Milka says:

            Do you ever stop and try to think before making inane statements.

        3. John Borstlap says:

          Again, you are on the wrong website.

          1. Milka says:

            And you in the wrong century

        4. NYMike says:

          “Showing up (to) the local union hall” – “the world of hard knocks” You have let the cat out of the bag.You were or are evidently a free-lance musician or, at best, a member of a part-time orchestra. Hence, your bitterness toward the contract disputes of major orchestra musicians. Sorry for you.

          1. Milka says:

            You write from ignorance…which is not surprising

          2. Truth Teller says:

            If you think that looking down your nose at freelance musicians is going to further your cause, you’re an idiot. If you are a member of a major orchestra, the main difference between you and a number of those freelancers is luck. You probably operate under the delusion that you won your audition because you played better than any of the other candidates. Not true. Anyone who is honest will tell you that auditions are not a measure of how well you play, but rather of how well you audition. When it comes down to the final round(s), determining the winner is a matter of splitting hairs. And all too often the fix is in, and the position will be awarded to a pre-determined candidate, likely a favorite of the principal or the music director. Your sense of entitlement is ill-founded.

    2. y4ktogo says:

      I did not know you ” alone ” speak for people of Pittsburgh ???????
      You seem to spending a lot time ridicule all string players for aspiring to be Heifetz .Donald Trump syndrome ? Small hands? or Small brain?

      1. Milka says:

        How stupid a response .. but equally not surprising

    3. Byrwec says:

      Maybe we don’t “owe” the players a living, but it’s a mistake to think the musicians went into their field with stars in their eyes and dreams of solo greatness. They almost certainly learned how competitive the field is in their student years. But as young people with a world of choices before them, they still took the calculated risk that there would always be appreciative audiences and benefactors who demand music of complexity and variety. They wagered their careers and comfort of life on the rest of us – that 20 or 30 years on, we would still support this musical art form of wide emotional range and a grand creative history.

      Support for the arts and humanities hovers between 4% and 5% of all charitable giving in the United States each year, according to Giving USA’s annual report on philanthropy. Just imagine what a world of great music we could support with 6%.

      1. Alvaro Mendizabal says:

        People studying music are adults and see the kind of market they are entering. Nobody is forcing them. I know – literally – thousands. THOUSANDS of musicians tired of this market and they leave, retrain in another field, and make a decent living and have a decent family.

        If you know how the market is, yet you complain it is this way, then its YOUR problem, not he industry’s.

        E.G. if there is a guy in school learning how to code in Cobol…when that language is completely archaic and there are no jobs for it and he gets a crappy job or gets fired because the world moved on and they dont need him anymore – HE HAS NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN. You chose to enter that market, and the market is going down the drains. Adjust, or leave.

        The difference between the musicians and the software developer exemplified above, is that the musician will play the “but its culture and my job is special” card. The developer gets fired, and we call it “structural unemployment”, yet both situations are the same thing.

        Entitlement….Entitlement….entitlement…

    4. Ben says:

      Milka, why would someone who doesn’t know, care. nor appreciate of arts like yourself would visit this site to comment?

      I guess music to you is like the degenerative hip-hop or heavy metal or whatever screaming your ears could bear, unless it’s a bunch of pretty blonde showing 70% of their show-biz lines (aka cleavage if your narrow mind never visited Asia)?

      So what’s your deal here? Nobody else pointed a gun at Van Gogh? So you think that poor sap should have given up painting and become a farmer, instead of suffering a miserable and non-rewarding life?

      What a hoke.

      1. Milka says:

        It will be difficult to get through to an ignorant little mind but what the hell we’ll give
        it a try .It is obvious one understands little of the Van Gogh tragic life otherwise it
        would not have been referred to in this context .
        Having been deeply involved with both music and visual artists I am aware that no
        matter how tough going it is for visual artists they as a group do not blame or hold
        accountable others for their success or failure. Whatever wind fall comes their way they
        rejoice and continue on with their life choice, if a show does not sell they are not out
        in the streets with placards demanding” as their right “to be saved by a public that has little interest in their plight, having enough worries to their own survival .Symphony players have promulgated the myth they are special individuals and should be accorded
        special favors, well they are not any better than the artist standing in front of the canvas
        not expecting special favors but hoping to sell the talent as does the orchestra player.
        Th visual artist understands it is all chance , orchestra players believe it is entitlement.

        1. Alvaro Mendizabal says:

          Finally someone telling it like it is. Bravo

          1. Andy says:

            A quick google excursion indicates the average per capita in Pittsburgh is $26,500 (which includes all adults and children). The median household income is $38,000. The median family income is $53,000.

            Reading the sundry posts here, it would appear the culprit of this state of affairs is the administration of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Plus, presumably, other philanthropic exercises like hospitals, universities, and such, draining sponsorship and donor dollars away from the musicians of the PSO.

            Alvaro and Milka are part of the silent majority, most of whom don’t frequent websites like this, and who, like the musicians of the PSO, struggle daily to make their own financial ends meet. Welcome to the world. Debate is fine, but the insults I’ve read reflect a troubling attitude of entitlement on the part of the musicians and their supporters.

            PSO musicians made a choice to become professionals, and to make performing music their business. The friction between the perceived value, actual value and market value of a product is the bottom line of any business model, and will determine viability, success and failure. Ever-increasing dependency on philanthropists and generous sponsors is not a sustainable strategy. But that’s exactly what is being proposed by the musicians and their supporters.

            I also read Mr Teachout’s article, and thought his a reasonable and thoughtful perspective, as, I expect, will many others who might not choose to visit Slipped Disc and comment. I think his perspective comes closer to reality than those of most of the contributors to this thread, who appear to believe that musicians are entitled to more income than their communities are prepared to pay, and who lay the blame for this unshocking phenomenon at the feet of management, claiming they’ve failed to make sufficiently convincing arguments to the contrary.

            Perhaps if musicians made their own case to the community, and proved their vital necessity. How? Well that’s going to be a problem, right? Because musicians are paid to play, not to talk, not to advocate, not even to smile when they stand to accept applause. No, that’s management’s job. And so now the PSO musicians think management and board should be replaced with new faces, who can wander, hats in hand, into the community and better convince people to give, give, give so musicians won’t leave Pittsburgh to play in other orchestras. What a mighty and convincing argument that will be. No possibility of failure when we talk about skilled musicians leaving the city, at least not like when we talk about skilled doctors leaving Pittsburgh. Get real.

            Milka, know that although I don’t agree with everything you write, you have my respect for articulating a valid and provocative perspective. That naysayers are unable to control the impulse to insult you speaks of their lack of character, integrity, and of their inability to respond with intelligence and courtesy.

            Now let’s see how these utterly predictable folks attack me.

          2. Steve says:

            Andy, fully eight of Milka’s replies on this thread are simply insults. You are free to appreciate his perspective, but it’s a bit rich accusing others of insulting him. He’s the champ of lowering the dialogue.

        2. Steve says:

          Visual artists are independent contractors. Musicians playing and bargaining collectively are not. Not a good comparison.

          1. Milka says:

            what nonsense.. we have come to expect this from Steve as he tries to bolster up
            his point of view . No one wishes the orchestra ill but the world is what it is .
            They will settle and some how save face …it’s the game ,not to settle would show them
            to be idiots as there are not that many openings across the country the could absorb
            a full orchestra and I suspect not all would make good restaurant waiters.If it is true they have lost 50% of their audience the writing is on the wall and if they continue to view themselves as some form of elite citizen that deserve to be subsidized by the rest of the population that are also trying to survive one can only look upon them as fools.
            The truth of the matter is that if any single player could get a better paying and secure
            position with another orchestra they would be gone like a shot .Pittsburg owes them
            nothing except the price of a ticket .

    5. Alvaro Mendizabal says:

      CLAP, CLAP, CLAP!

      If we had let the market speak, we would have 20 well funded – world class orchestras in the US. They would not need to do crappy “outreach programs”, prostitute their programming with “Lady Gaga at the Symphony” or “Music in your local bar” or “Music for Soccer Moms and Yoga Vegans” to exist.

      All the arguments here presented are anecdotal or bogus or a combination of both. If people dont care about your services they wont pay, and thats what we see in all of these situations.

      Lets put it this way: if the manager worked FOR FREE, it would cover 2-3 musicians. Nevermind the salaries.

      What happens with the industry is that some “heifetz wannabe’s” cant face reality that their profession is redundant and completely unnecessary. Yes, unnecessary.

  3. Known as 332 says:

    Aside from that I doubt Mr. Teachout is the institutional voice for the WSJ, a few comments on the substance of the article:
    1. In all likelihood you are right about the status level (vs. 1920), but that doesn’t change what the public (concertgoers + benefactors + taxpayers) are willing to pay musicians… and is certainly out of the control of both symphony musicians and management.
    2. Also probably true, but I suspect the “supply” of prestige has diminished for classical music and its artists. Thus challenges in salary scale to reflect cost of living + density of benefactor community + etc.
    3. I’m no friend of G.S., but the market is paying that. Not enough room for a policy discussion, but kind of weak tea as a substantial argument.
    4. The changes you outline (conductor, diversity) seem week compared to changes in musical taste of the culture, value of fine arts, ad infinitum. These seem tangential.
    5. This point does carry weight. Not sure that orchestral CEOs compensation seems related to meaningful accomplishment, or the market for the “product” they are selling. But I think that speaks to CEO compensation violating the laws of gravity, rather than the underpinning of the impact to musician salaries. Also the leaders do seem to be tone deaf.
    6. But how is that different than most people under 75th percentile earning? This is asking for a special pleading, where most people have the same challenge.

    I suspect the period 1960ish – nowish were a special time in the economics of a symphony, buoyed by a special place in the culture and great economic growth in the west. However, unfortunately unsustainable. And I think Mr. Teachout is merely highlighting the inconsistencies that most people are choosing to ignore

  4. Byrwec Ellison says:

    Maybe we don’t “owe” the players a living, but it’s a mistake to think they entered their field with stars in their eyes and dreams of solo greatness. They almost certainly learned how competitive the field is back in their student years. But as young people with a world of choices before them, they still took the calculated risk that there would always be appreciative audiences and benefactors who demand to hear music of complexity and variety. They wagered their careers and comfort of life on the rest of us – that 20 or 30 years on, we would still support this musical art form of wide emotional range and a grand creative history.

    Support for the arts and humanities hovers between 4% and 5% of all charitable giving in the United States, according to Giving USA’s annual report on philanthropy. Just imagine what a world of great music we could support with 6%.

    1. Milka says:

      You have answered the question…they “bet “and in many cases “lost the bet ” whose fault is that …if they knew from the start the life odds were against them what sympathy
      should they expect. Thousands thought Kodak , Polaroid ,Ciba was forever only to
      see their dreams of the good life crash , the only difference being they did not feel
      the general public owed them living because of the turn of events .The cash cow has
      died ,the patrons have found other causes to feed their egos,and if the money isn’t
      there what do you do ? Perhaps they should find ways to regain general public interest and support so they matter to the community at large rather than the few .

      1. PaulD says:

        I think your last sentence sums up what I have been thinking. The real issue here is the disconnect between orchestras and the communities they want to serve. Does the community of Pittsburgh care that it has one of the best orchestras in the country? If it did, it would be buying tickets. Since it is not, Heinz Hall has reduced orchestra performances on Saturday nights (to me, prime time) and replaced them with pop concerts to keep the electricity and heat on.

      2. John Borstlap says:

        Populism, trumpism, the nonsense of the primitive, full of spite and jealousy.

      3. Steve says:

        Kodak and Polaroid were supplanted by better and more useful technologies. Don’t know what Ciba is, or was. No one has yet figured out how to produce an effective performance of Mahler 8 with 13 musicians. Orchestras and their musicians are trying to find new ways to engage with their communities. We do a great deal of it at my orchestra. Will it work? Maybe. But the core of what an orchestras does is to play great music on stage for an audience. That part can’t be changed in any meaningful fashion. Will people continue to pay for it? We think it has great value and hope so.

  5. Steve says:

    Dear Milka, Do you object to the notion that orchestral musicians should paid a good salary? Do you dislike how hard bargaining appears to the public? Do you have a philosophical problem with trade unions? Can you please clarify your thoughts? I’m trying to understand where you are coming from. Thanks.

    1. Milka says:

      No
      No
      No
      The world of hard knocks

    2. Rich Patina says:

      Dear Steve: There is the world as you wish it was and then there is the world as it really is. I’m pretty sure Milka is firmly grounded in the latter.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        In contrary, it is the other way around: populists want to bring down the world to their own level, and that is what his/her comments come down to.

  6. Rich Patina says:

    “They need to attract the best players they can afford. If you pay them less than the market rate, they will go to LA or New York…”

    Bollocks. Just how many open positions do you think there are in either city? And if there is an opening, there will be auditions and hundreds of unemployed/underemployed players will apply. It is pure fantasy to think that a professional orchestra musician can move laterally at will.

    1. Garnett Livibgston says:

      Actually it happens quite often. The musicians in a top ten orchestra like Pittsburgh are at the top of their field. There have been musicians who have left Pittsburgh Symphony recently for the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, should I go on?

  7. Steve says:

    Unionized musicians across the country will continue to bargain hard for good wages and working conditions. No amount of bleating from neutered sheep will change that.

    Over a half century ago musicians started insisting that our largest and wealthiest cities could indeed support year-round orchestras. Boards maintained that this was impossible – that the resources simply did not exist. Time and facts have proven the musicians correct. How were these gains made? By hard bargaining and even striking! (Pass the smelling salts to our sensitive flowers, please.) Just accept what our boards offer us? Ridiculous! Their “financial analyses” are designed to support their arguments, not ours, or our communities’. Boards want to keep expenses as low as possible. It is our job as union members to question assumptions and to push as hard as we can!

    Will symphony orchestras as objects of civic pride be around forever? Perhaps not, but the Oracle has not yet spoken on this matter. What I do know is that predicting the demise of the symphony has been a cottage industry for at least a century. In the real world, many, many orchestras are flourishing, setting attendance and fundraising records while they play at incredible standards. I have just returned from playing a wonderful concert with my orchestra, rapturously received by a large audience. We will do it again tomorrow.

    Big surprise here: running a large arts organization is hard! Who knew? Are there institutions that have serious problems? Of course. Very often, those problems lie with the boards and managements. Less frequently, economic factors are at fault. Sometimes both issues may be at play. The Great Recession is almost a decade past and many of our cities have now experienced several years of sustained growth. Hard bargaining is part of the process of creating solutions. Contracts have to push boards! Arts organizations are non-profits. Since there is no profit motive for the board, the incentive for growth must necessarily come from the artists. Do you like stagnation and regression? No? Well, neither do we.

    I’m not sure what purpose some of the rancid comments on this blog serve, other than the pleasure they obviously give to the authors. If you are musicians, then get out there and play! If you are not, but love live classical music, then buy tickets, donate and volunteer. Those of us working in the trenches would appreciate it if you would find a more constructive outlet for your bitterness.

    1. milka says:

      Poor Steve…….

      1. Steve says:

        When the parties at the bargaining table fail reach an agreement we often see a strike or a lockout. This is what has happened this year in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Fort Worth. At that point both sides will have PR efforts to take their cases to the public. Musicians are perfectly aware that many people will be unsympathetic to their arguments. Their case is directed to the sympathetic in the hopes that these folks will put pressure on boards and managements to come to a mutually agreeable settlement. Some of the readers of this blog, who are not sympathetic to unionized musicians, seem to think that these arguments are directed at them and so perceive them as “arrogant.” This is a misunderstanding of what is going on. Sorry, it’s not about you guys! It’s just part of the way collective bargaining works. We have to advocate for ourselves.

        This is not to say that there are no arrogant musicians who do feel as if they are owed a living. There are folks like that in every field.

  8. John Borstlap says:

    It is instructive to have some populist burbs on this site, occasionally, because they show one of the threats to classical music: people who maintain they are music lovers, but in reality they want to destroy it, to bring it down to their own level, and thus to diminish its standing in the world. Often these are freaks who had wanted to be a musician but lacked the talents, got stuck somewhere, and then ventilate their frustration in a ‘safe’ environment where they can spit on the music world and other commentators, until it is time to take their medicine and go to bed. They cannot do much harm in their isolation, but they offer the possibility to detect one of the dangers that linger in music life: the poisonous presence of failed dreams of people who were attracted to the ‘glamour’ of classical music but could not find their way in it.

    1. Milka says:

      One can just visualize the populist mob advancing with burning torches,sticks, pick axes and whatever else all searching out traces of” classical music” to bring it down.
      One hopes music schools besides teaching music are teaching their students self
      defense in case they run into the populist mob who are bent in destroying the classical
      music .A course in “Dangers that linger in music life ” 101……taught byJohn Borstlap seems in order.

      1. Sally says:

        A group of 8 refugees who live here on the estate and who apparently had been following this thread, knocked on the kitchen doors an hour ago, armed with pitchforks and grubbers, anglily asking where they could find this Milka. We had to reassure them that abuse, offence and mud slinging was normal part of cultural exchange here, and that we were very happy with this pluralism which gives everybody a voice. With some coctails we could calm them down, although some were singing lively when they left. (Be relieved we didn’t spill the beans about your whereabouts…!)

  9. Gerald Martin says:

    Isaac Stern’s argument is weird: ” We don’t value your work so we have to pay you more.”

  10. Derek says:

    The “testimony” in the link of 6 is utterly bizarre. Someone who put their kids through private school, travels internationally for pleasure each year, and chooses to support their adult children is not on the “breadline”!

  11. MusicFanNYC says:

    Pittsburgh’s population was 675,000 in 1950 and has steadily declined since then to about 300,000 now. During the same period, the US population has more than doubled. Perhaps the city’s current population and wealth are insufficient to produce enough donors to support an orchestra where the base pay is twice the median US household income. The attendance for Pittsburgh Symphony’s concerts has been falling and stood around 50% last season, which is still quite impressive considering that the hall has upwards of 2,600 seats. The orchestra players should of course do everything they can to improve their pay—that’s how markets work—but the local demographics just do not seem to favor their case at the moment, unless the city experiences a major comeback soon.

    1. hkhenry says:

      The greater Pittsburgh area is is the 22nd largest in America (1,700,000) and has always supported a symphony orchestra

    2. Saxon Broken says:

      The population of the urban area is 1.7million. All cities have seen movement out of the central core since 1960, so this comparison is a bit silly. The population of the metropolitan area is 2.4 million. Moreover, there are more professional orchestras, paying better salaries in the US playing to a higher standard, and selling more tickets than there have ever been before. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Pittsburgh will want to, or be able to support a really top orchestra, but there is no reason why it can’t provide a decent living to the musicians in its orchestra.

  12. Milka says:

    More important than the strike whatever happened to quak quak quak ?
    I thought it quite a profound response considering the source.
    Hate to think the word censorship.

    1. Steve says:

      Yesterday I challenged Milka to state his thesis and make an argument with supporting evidence. So far all I see are more insults.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        ‘Milka’ may be a Russian trolla paid to undermine Western culture. She also may merely be an ugly, middle-aged Serbian housewife frustrated about the meaning of her name:

        “Diminutive of Slavic names containing the element milu: meaning gracious, dear, lovely.”

        Given the ineffectiveness of her attempts to destroy classical music, I keep it to the second option. I can imagine her in her lonely datcha in the woods, reading the screen with compressed lips and typing fanatically and bitterly on her keyboard against all those bloody music lovers.

        1. Milka says:

          Goodness gracious !!!!!!! it just dawned on me ……
          Could this John be thought of as the Trump of the musical world .???
          Conspiracies everywhere…old middle aged ugly broad ….sound familiar?
          Can he be so unforgiving in never having managed to kissed those compressed lips?

        2. Steve says:

          John, I have already challenged Milka twice to write something substantive on the Pittsburgh strike, which is what this thread is ostensibly about. He won’t or can’t, or both. That’s not his role. His role is to troll. Really he’s just an insult comic who isn’t at all funny, although he imagines that he’s clever when he writes that other commentators are stupid or ignorant. He also writes like English is a foreign language to him, by which I mean he writes execrably. And what’s up with his bizarre punctuation and spacing? Predictably, this comment will be followed by another insult in 1-2-3…

          1. Bviolinistic says:

            Why the assumption that Milka is male?

      2. Milka says:

        They are observations , which seem to evade your understanding, yet you persist .
        You now indulge in a psycho babble review of what you think Milka
        is all about .Take a hint …Milka does not think your comments worth a response.
        You may take this as an insult or whatever you want to read into it that will give
        you comfort but try not to pass yourself off as intellect ,those clothes do not fit you .

        1. John Borstlap says:

          I hear from some professional contacts in Belgrado that in the countryside, after dinner time, women beyond 50 are locked-up after finishing the washing-up, and given a laptop to amuse themselves, so that the males can sing traditional epic folk songs to each other undisturbed.

          Especially “Ој Србијо, мила мати” is very popular (translated “O Serbia, Dear Mother”).

          These lines must be quite irritating to Milka:

          Podigni se mati mila,
          Da nam budeš što si bila,
          Jer si tužno robovala,
          Dugo suze prolivala.

          So, one can understand her frustration. Maybe we should be a bit more tolerant.

  13. Michael Adams says:

    I have to reiterate the historical record regarding Orchestras, collective bargaining and their standard of living.
    Let’s first accept the proposition that raising money for a non-profit is very very hard work. Secondly, it has been my experience in 45 years in this business that Orchestra boards only raise as much money as they have been ‘forced’ to over the years as a result of tough collective bargaining for better wages and working conditions.
    As a result, the Orchestra profession has yielded amazing results in terms of quality: American orchestras in the top 20 cities in this country are at least the equal to, or more likely superior to their counterparts in similar-sized to cities in Europe. The professional standards of American orchestras have never, ever been higher. Just do some critical, systematic listening to recordings old and new.
    What we are seeing now it’s just a continuation of our long history of tough negotiating and financial reckoning.
    Does society value musicians at this level highly enough? No, they never have and probably never will.
    Let’s not mince words: The symphony orchestra animal will always be the the toy of the wealthy class. It’s largely up to them, in each individual city, to determine the perceived value of their orchestras and their musicians, NONE OF WHOM GOT INTO THIS BUSINESS WITH ANY EXPECTATIONS OF GETTING RICH.

    1. Milka says:

      You miss the point by miles ………. Let’s not mince words your summation is not too bright
      and unfortunately you do sound like Steve, something you must avoid if you wish to
      be taken seriously. The orchestra as we know it was not the play toy of the wealthy even though in many cases they wrote cheques to cover shortfalls at the end of a season .
      You must when discussing musicians’ collective bargaining etc. put it in historical context
      not to do so is playing games and means nothing .

  14. Steve says:

    As predicted. He couldn’t resist taking the bait. Still nothing of substance, of course.

  15. Bowel MVT says:

    Liberal Cry Baby Musicians. Hardly anyone cares for your effeminate fiddle muzak. Trump-Pence!!!


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