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Unemployment panic among Finnish strings

February 13, 2018 by norman lebrecht

5 comments.


From our northern correspondent:
A clerk in the Finnish unemployment office noticed an announcement that Sinfonia Lahti is looking for a viola player for the orchestra. In Finnish language violin is viulu, and viola is alttoviulu.

The clerk sent a letter to all violin players in the province listed as unemployed, telling them they must apply for the viola job – or lose all unemployment benefits for three months.

Many professional string players in Finland are freelances who are officially listed as unemployed. They have been unsettled by this letter.

The director of South Finland’s unemployment office has responded: ‘A client is supposed to tell us his history, his skills and plans. An expert will then assess if the client’s skills are matching with any open vacancies.

If a violin player has been offered the position of a viola player, perhaps there is a thought that a violinist can also play the viola. The idea is that different options are being offered on a fairly wide scale.

‘I suppose that in this case there has been an idea to offer a wide range of jobs, and what has been lacking was a clear analysis regarding the differences between a violin and a viola. Usually, the more exotic the instrument or device, the more interpretation is needed. If also the employer can confirm that a violin player cannot play the viola, one can immediately say that a re-evaluation would be needed.’

Helsinki airport

Comments (5)

  1. Pianofortissimo says:

    Taxpayers should be scandalized by freelancers being provided by the welfare state between paid gigs in a planned way.

    1. Nik says:

      France has long had especially generous unemployment benefits for ‘intermittents du spectacle’, designed to tide them over between gigs.

      1. Scotty says:

        Indeed, although the number of required gigs required to stay in the program has increased steadily over the last decade.

    2. Scholz says:

      We are all taxpayers. Employees and freelancers!

  2. Algot says:

    Most violists can play the violin and read the G-clef. Very few violinists can read the C-clef. That a clerk at the unemployment office can’t tell the difference between the two instruments is normal even if you would expect better from Finland.


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