The longest serving orchestral player tells it how it was

The longest serving orchestral player tells it how it was


norman lebrecht

March 13, 2014

Frances Darger, who came top in our survey of long-serving players, retired at the end of the 2012 season.

But the Utah ymphony won’t let her go. They’ve been round to her with a video camera and got their fingers on her photo album and her memories. Frances looks as if she could walk straight back into rehearsal.

‘It was $37.50 a week for six services a week….’

)frances darger utah


  • harold braun says:


  • Hello, my comment is to the beginning of the topic^ (sorry I post it here, was difficult to find this article on the site)

    Thank you very much for such a material about orchestra players. Please make the corrections concerning Oleg Talypine, the basoonist of St Petersbugr Philharmonic orchestra. Now he is 84 years old and he still works! He entered to this orchestra 49 years ago!

    I am working at St Petersburg Philharmonia D.D.Schostakovich and 2 months ago made the interview with Oleg Talypine. Here it is:

    The photo was taken in Dec 2013, when he played solo with the orchestra on a concert – dedication to Annivesary of Maestro Temirkanov

  • Anon says:

    I also have a comment for the Ultimate Longest Serving Players post which I think is no longer accepting comments.

    I think that only players in FULL TIME professional orchestras should be counted. With all due respect to the Amarillo, TX and the Lake Placid Symphonies in the US, both of whom have players occupying top 10 spots on the list, I don’t believe that these are full time professional positions. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

    It’s a lot easier to keep going for 60+ years if your orchestra only plays a few concert sets a year. While I think that the lady who played in Amarillo is a great inspiration, it doesn’t make sense that a player in a part time semi pro orch should displace someone like the great trumpeter Herseth in Chicago and place him farther down the list when he earned his stripes on a daily basis in a full time, highly competitive pro orchestra.

    I hope that you will revise the criteria and reconsider the TYPE of orchestra these longest-serving players played in. I don’t think Amarillo or Lake Placid should count. Part time or community orchestras can have their own list. This list should be for pro players only, IMHO. Including part time orchs. players lessens the importance of the great long serving players in professional full time ensembles.