Madness: Orchestra has its instruments confiscated in name dispute

Madness: Orchestra has its instruments confiscated in name dispute


norman lebrecht

March 13, 2014

Players in the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra turned up to work today to find their instruments under threat of seizure – on the order of the Netherlands Philharmonic.

The Symphony Orchestra, based in Enschede, used to be known as Orkest van het Oorsten (orchestra of the East). After its rebrand a couple of years back, lawyers for the Netherlands Philharmonic, based in Amsterdam, protested at the alleged similarity of names. The Symphony stood firm. So the NedPhil won a court order against them last month. This morning, they sent in the bailiffs to issue a threat to impound their instruments.

Erik Olsman, a bass player in the Symphony, has just gone online to raise the outcry. UPDATE: The NedPhil dispute this (below).

Have the NedPhil lost their marbles? Have they never been to London, where a dozen orchestras get along with very similar names? Have they nothing better to do on a Thursday morning?

Get a life, Netherlands Philharmonic. And back off. This is public money and patience you are wasting.

netherland symphony


UPDATE: A conductor appeals for ‘the nonsense to stop’.

Further UPDATE: We have received the following communication from the managing director of the NedPhil:

There is absolutely no question of seizing instruments from the orchestra, nor of bailiffs doing so.


The two orchestras agreed some years ago that the Orkest van het Oosten could use the name Netherlands Symphony Orchestra when on tour abroad, but not in The Netherlands. Unfortunately the orchestra decided to  no longer honor this agreement, not even after  the courts pointed out their obligation to do so.


I wonder how it came that Mr. De Vriend (was it really him?) published wrong information in the Volkskant today.

Kind regards,


Rob Streevelaar

Managing director


Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra /

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra




  • Hear, hear., Norman Lebrecht. Thank you for your support for us, in what I find to be a ridiculous situation.

  • Alex Klein says:

    We hear of orchestras closing in many countries. There are strikes, and musicians playing for lower salaries in order to maintain their jobs. This is a tough business to be in at a time of financial limitations. And these people are arguing about….a name? And preventing a funded orchestra from working?

  • Another proof of provincial thinking in the Dutch cultural field.

  • sdReader says:

    Well said, Norman.

  • Mikey says:

    Are the instruments property of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra?

    Or are they property of the individual musicians who are salaried employees of the orchestra?

    If they are the latter, then the Netherlands Phil. are in effect committing a court-approved theft of private property over which they have no legal standing.

  • stijn says:

    Please tell me this an article from De Speld or The Onion?

    I guess this is yet another way of getting rid of orchestra’s in Holland. Competition is up i guess…

  • Rosana Martins says:

    Following this line of thinking, I wonder which orchestras need to change their names: Berlin Philharmonic or Berlin Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic or Vienna Symphony, London Philharmonic or LSO….???

  • Peter Bogaert says:

    I wonder wat Mr. Streevelaar would have done if someone had sued his orchestra when they changed their name from Amsterdam Philharmonic to Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra based on a loose note of agreement (nothing near to a contract!) from a previous management.

  • Mankind has got crazy, not all of them but the majority did. Let’s be happy that we still have some orchestres, Music is love, expressed through an instrument and bring Peace in humans Hearts. Amen

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    There we go again: Dutch “eigenwijsheid”, bullheadedness, and worse: small mindedness. Utterly self destructive, and certainly no gain for the performing arts. Maybe it is best for both orchestras to disappear, if that is what they like to do. There is a saying: wherever there are three Dutch people of the same opinion, you have a political party ( or church). Maybe this could be applied to music ensembles as well?

    • I am a member of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, I have NO say in what our management decide to do. I agree with you entirely about Dutch eigenwijsheid… but for my orchestra to disappear??? Sorry, I have a mortgage to pay, entirely on my own…