Long-serving musicians: This orchestra boasts ‘1,500 years of service’

Long-serving musicians: This orchestra boasts ‘1,500 years of service’


norman lebrecht

February 12, 2015

A contrabass and a viola player have sat in the Portland Symphony Orchestra for more than half a century. Four more players have clocked up over four decades in their seats. Portland is proud of their longevity. Or is it their tenacity, tolerance, dedication,lack of pension fund?

See our list of longest serving musicians of all time for comparison.

portland list


  • geoff radnor says:

    I went to the Festival Hall in the mid to late 1950s, von Karajan, Keiber, Beecham, Klemp.,Arrau, Menuhin etc. Next Thursday Feb. 19th 2015 I will hear the National Arts Centre Orchestra play with Thomas Søndergård conducting and Ingrid Fliter playing the piano, they are both youngsters, still in their 40s.
    I am 80 years and 5 months, that’s about 60 years as a listener. What would the orchestra musicians do without us.
    Where’s my medal?

  • JAMA11 says:

    Portland Maine? With its 65,000 people? I have to assume this is not a full-time orchestra, and these musicians probably earn about $15,000 annually.

  • Stereo says:

    Have never been able to understand why these people want stay so long ,haven’t they got another life?

    • William Safford says:

      I guess you’re not a musician.

      Musicians need work.

      As with any worker, they (or at least most) need the money.

      They enjoy their work.

      (Disclosure: a former teacher of mine is in the Portland Symphony.)

      • Stereo says:

        Actually I am a retired professional musician. I did my 40+ years,quite enough.

        • William Safford says:

          Two friends of mine retired from a major US orchestra almost ten years ago, each with about 40 years under his belt.

          Friend A stopped playing and gave his instrument to a grandchild.

          Friend B has a thriving freelance career.

          I guess you’re more like my Friend A.

          • Stereo says:

            Correct. Still play very occasionally,more in to golf and travel these days. Had a wonderful time when working but pleased to be finished.