Official: Two Paris orchestras are told to merge

Official: Two Paris orchestras are told to merge


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2015

Our resmusica amis have drawn our attention to a ruling by the auditor of public finances, demanding the fusion of two Paris-based radio orchestras, the Nationale (Daniele Gatti) and the Philharmonique (Myung Whun Chung).

The ruling was handed down by the Cour des comptes, which surveys spending at all public bodies from the Elysée Palace to hospitals and schools.

Its recommendations are hard to resist. This looks pretty bad for the orchs, and for hundreds more who work in broadcasting.

The court also calls for a merger between France Inter, France Info and France Culture. More here.

radio france


  • Gonout Backson says:

    One precision : if I understand well, the Cour des Comptes doesn’t suggest the merger between the three channels (Inter, Info, Culture), but only between their respective “rédactions” – journalistic staff; independent “newsrooms” so to speak.

    Good news (?) is France-Musique doesn’t seem to have been mentioned there.

  • Jon H says:

    Well, I think if this is the trend, the musicians should have the option of forming their own orchestra – like the “Symphony of the Air” after NBC Symphony. They just need a transition plan to get these orchestras privately funded (or self governing) – and in fact that transition plan needs to adopted all over Europe. Otherwise there will be fewer orchestras, and more musicians on the street. And, it really isn’t fair that the radio stations continue to collect the same amount with reduced services. I wouldn’t blame them for allowing an orchestra to become self governing and nicely help that transition, but to dump musicians on the street and still charge the same fees – it’s just killing the culture.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      The Symphony of the Air didn’t work out so well. The orchestra folded after 8 or 9 years.

    • GG says:

      You are very unlikely to be able to maintain a full-size, permanent orchestra on purely private funding in France.

      First, there isn’t an unlimited amount of sponsors, and there’s fierce competition on that field (for example with Opéra de Paris, Orchestre de Paris… who are also publicly funded).

      Second, as far as ticket revenues are concerned, you’ll still have to compete with public-funded orchestras, which will very likely be less expensive (Orchestre de Paris’ most expensive seats are €40 at the Philharmonie…). And on the other side, there aren’t that many concertgoers…

      Thus, I think it cannot work that way – it’d be a death sentence to the orchestra as we knew it. In the best case, it’d transform into something very different (smaller, non-permanent…)… worst case, it dies and the musicians will have to go elsewhere.

  • Jon H says:

    Yeah, the circumstances behind that will not necessarily apply now, but that’s not to say there wouldn’t be other very real challenges.

  • Andreas Richter says:

    what about Mikki Frank being appointed as music director?

  • ruben greenberg says:

    The Philharmonique de Radio France is actually already the result of three orchestras merging in the mid-70s. -the incredible, shrinking man.

  • Jon H says:

    Yes, the unfortunate reality. You would think with a combination of buy outs and/or attrition (just not rehiring), they can reduce the size that way. The worst thing is putting a bunch of musicians on the street all at once, and without some sort of unemployment benefit, etc. It isn’t as though another orchestra will be hiring 30 musicians all at once. Two mergers in one year for instance means a lot of musicians looking for work at the same time – it’s good to spread that out as much as possible.