Berlin Philharmonic seeks extra public funding

Berlin Philharmonic seeks extra public funding


norman lebrecht

February 15, 2015

While Simon Rattle and the players are basking in London adulation, the Berlin Phil’s general manager Martin Hoffmann is demanding an increase in the funding the orchestra receives from the city/state of Berlin.

Hoffmann told Handelsblatt that the annual grant of 14 million Euros (US16 million) has scarcely changed in 13 years and all possible savings in the organisation have been exhausted. He has written to the new mayor, Michael Müller (SPD), and says: ‘I am confident he knows the global importance of the Philharmonic and its unbelievable publicity value (for Berlin).’

berlin philharmonie beethoven 9

Hoffmann also dropped a thick hint about the future, saying ‘Simon Rattle’s successor has already played with us.’  Surprise, surprise.


  • Anon says:

    And we can be equally confident, Hoffmann and the Berlin Phil know, how important the generous support by the city over the decades has been for the orchestra and its image in the world. That image plays a decisive role when it comes to creating extra revenue here and there.

    If I were the Berlin mayor, I would agree to raise the budget, if in turn the Berlin Phil agrees to hand over 50% of their additional earnings from TV royalties or from festivals, e.g. in Baden-Baden or Aix-en-Provence, to the city. After all, the city has financed a major share of their preparation and marketability for such festivals, and deserves to be reimbursed for the subsidies. Deal, Mr. Hoffmann?

  • Anon says:

    Anyway, apparently the incoming chief will be expensive…

  • Alberto Martinez says:

    Are philarmonic orchestras the most protected among the dangered species ? it seems so . Let the goverments and town halls keep giving money and millions to them while they refuse scholarships and materials to music scholars and students. A fundamental hipocrisy of the classical music world.It´s all about image

  • william osborne says:

    There is little doubt that the Berlin Phil brings Berlin far more than 14 million Euros per year. A good investment.

  • william osborne says:

    There I little doubt that the Berlin Phil brings far more than 14 million Euros to the city. A good investment.

    • Anon says:

      Very slippery slope of argument. The value of an outstanding artistic body like the Berlin Philharmonic is mostly non-tangible.
      If you go down the route of the price tags and revenue, then there are surely publicity activities, that can give the town of Berlin more return for the investment in monetary terms than the Berlin Phil, which appeals, in the whole picture, to only a rather small interest group of overall society.

  • william osborne says:

    Very true, but in this specific instance, it is one of many useful arguments.

  • Concert listener says:

    You can run one of the most precious musical gems and achievements of human civilization for only 14 million Euros a year? That’s CHEAP!!!
    A little real world comparison between Germany’s most famous orchestra and Germany’s most famous football club: Bayern München has a yearly budget of 140 million Euros, that’s TEN times that of the Berlin Philharmonic. Berlin Phil has about 120 players to pay, Bayern München has about 25 players to pay.

    • william osborne says:

      14 million Euros is only the public subsidy. The total operating budget is 34 million – or about $39 million. The Berlin Phil’s budget is thus only 52% of the Chicago Symphony’s at $74 million.

      America’s private funding system is very inefficient and undemocratic. It concentrates a few lavish and expensive institutions in the few cities where the wealthy live while the rest of the country is neglected. The Met’s $320 million budget, for example, is twice that of similar houses in Europe such as the Vienna and Munich State Operas or La Scala. The Paris Opera runs two full time houses for $100 million each.

      One reason America’s top arts institutions cost so much, aside from luxuriously serving the rich, is that it takes so many people to raise funds – from a third to half the administrative staff.