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UPDATE: Dallas musicians hit $100k

September 8, 2017 by norman lebrecht

11 comments.


The Dallas Symphony has reached a new three-year contract with its musicians, based on a wage freeze for the first year. The next two years will see a two percent upgrade.

Base pay is presently almost $100,000.

Press release here.

UPDATE: We’ve had the full numbers from the musicians:
2017-18:  99,526.96 (as 2016-17)
2018-19:  101,382.32 (+2%)
2019-20:  103, 274.60 (+2%)

The reason for the pay freeze in the first year is that management agreed to substantially increase its contribution towards the musicians’ health care costs. That was referred to a little obliquely in the press release, but it was something that was really important to us.  There were also numerous improvements to working conditions.


Comments (11)

  1. Ballerina says:

    And the base pay of a top London orchestra….? I don’t think they have too much to worry about.

  2. herrera says:

    It’s a small sacrifice to pay, happily shared by everyone, to have the privilege of playing under Jaap van Zweden and to afford his annual $5.1 million salary.

    I hope the board chooses a $10 million conductor next time, because Dallas deserves the very best.

    1. Steve P says:

      Whoa. Shade level +1,000

    2. Hans-Dieter Glaubke says:

      Surely, you jest! Allow me to fool myself and perceive your unintended irony.

    3. Mark Henriksen says:

      Articles on the internet say his salary is less than two million but that he got a re-signing bonus that brought one year up to 5.1 million. So, 5.1 wouldn’t be an annual salary.

      1. Nick says:

        As widely reported both here and in all the news media, a donor made a special one-off gift of several million $$ restricted specifically to keep van Zweden. It was not part of his official salary.

        1. Robert Holmén says:

          Does that donor get a rebate now that he’s splitting early?

      2. herrera says:

        A good conductor is worth his weight in gold.

        The price of gold is $43K / kilo. I reckon JvZ is around 80 kg. So in terms of gold, he is worth around $3.4M.

        Conclusion, JvZ is the only conductor alive who is worth more than his weight in gold.

        1. John Borstlap says:

          But there may be things other than physical weight which topped the balance. For instance, I’m only 63,47 kilo but worth ca. $ 8 M, including recent increase in terms of future posthumous reputation. I’m sill looking around for someone to invest that money, though.

  3. MacroV says:

    Remember, base pay is $90k, but titled players, of course, earn significantly more, and each year of seniority usually brings a few extra dollars per service, so I would be surprised if there are many earning less than $100k. And if you consider the much lower cost of housing relative to New York, SF, LA, etc., the effective pay is probably fairly close.

    1. Bruce says:

      Not all orchestras have seniority pay. Mine (admittedly not in the same category as Dallas, or even close) doesn’t. A 20-year veteran, if they haven’t asked for a raise and managed to get it, receives the same pay as a brand-new hire.


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