Franz Welser-Möst: 20 percent of my audience is under 25

Franz Welser-Möst: 20 percent of my audience is under 25


norman lebrecht

August 19, 2015

These are Cleveland statistics, relayed to a Salzburg newspaper. Shocking for a festival where the average attendance age is posthumous plus six.

No need to worry, says Franz: music is not dead yet. Read here (auf Deutsch).



  • Jevgeniy says:

    FWM fan here, but can he really claim those stats in Cleveland?

  • Doug says:

    My guess is that’s due in great part to a very strong attendance program at Cleveland Institute of Music. Otherwise, same old story.

    • Kathleen McCarthy says:

      CIM and Case Western Reserve University, which is within walking distance from Severance Hall

    • MWnyc says:

      As Peter Barach, observes, part of it is $15 student tickets.

      Another part is Frequent Fan Cards – $50 (sometimes less) gets you into as many regular season concerts as you want. (I don’t know if those are available to 20-somethings who aren’t currently students.)

  • under25incleveland says:

    Additionally, there is the frequent fan card program: if a student pays 35 dollars at the beginning of the season, he gets access to ANY performance. There are tons of teenagers at Severance Hall, even on Saturday nights.

  • Peter Barach says:

    This is part of why the Cleveland audience is so young:

    “When you join The Cleveland Orchestra’s Student Advantage program, you can purchase tickets to concerts for just $15 — a huge savings over regular ticket prices!

    “$15 tickets are made available beginning the Monday prior to the concert and are available until an hour before the performance starts (tickets one hour prior are $20). All are subject to availability.

    “It Costs Nothing to Join

    “Membership is free for full-time high school (grades 9-12), and full-time college undergraduate, graduate/post-graduate students (a valid student ID is required)”

  • Gary says:

    I was just at a classical concert that featured Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto. There were 9,999 in attendance, the majority of whom did NOT have gray hair. Classical music is not dead. It just needs to dump the brain dead promoters who are running the show.

    • Olassus says:

      Right on!

      Most of them really are incompetent marketers without a grasp either of their products, which are seasons not events, or of their organizations’ missions.

      Gelb in opera and Borda on the orchestra side are perfect examples, despite the huge resources they each have.

  • Alvaro says:

    JA-JA-JA! That might be so, but all those audiences have never heard a piece of classical music. They all perhaps partake in CHA CHA CHA at the symphony, Heavy Metal at the Symphony or the latest version of Hip Hop meets the Opera.

    But hey, the important thing here is to put in a newspaper that young people are going to the symphony hall. Who cares about what they actually listen to? what is important is to have customers for the next 10 years.


      I’m not so sure about that one. For one thing, The Cleveland Orchestra is too conservative in its programming to put on many performances of this nature; in fact, it is young people who seem to have made up for a decrease in traditional subscribers. It is wonderful to leave a concert- as I did this spring after a performance of Florent Schmitt’s “La Tragédie de Salomé”- and hear teenagers saying things like, “That was AWESOME!”

  • ruben greenberg says:

    Listening to Welser-Möst will make these young people age faster.

    • Furzwängler says:

      Indeed. It was not for nothing that he was nicknamed Frankly Worse Than Most by one of the top London orchestras when he was in charge.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        It was one or two malignant players and several malign critics. And that was 25 years ago. Ancient history.

        • John Borstlap says:

          True, he was very young then and meanwhile he has developed into a remarkable musician, who – a rarety in musicians – has also intellectual and philosophical interests (his discussion evenings at the Vienna State Opera).

      • Janis says:

        Meh. He was nicknamed that because someone thought it was a clever pun and felt emotionally committed to disliking him enough to use it, and that’s pretty much it.

        • ruben greenberg says:

          I agree with Meh; this was just a cheap swipe. That said, he is a conductor that is lacking in that sacred fire, without which music in not effective.

  • Itsjtime says:

    Surely you MUST ALL REALIZE that conservatories like CIM and Juilliard are mostly graduating future concert goers because there are NO JOBS in music for the overwhelming majority of the graduates. These students will hopefully impart to their families a great love of music. Giving stats about positive growth of younger audiences are uplifting no matter how you look at it. Ticket sales don’t ever come close to keeping the lights on let alone paying the orchestra. Corporate pandering is the life blood here, people. Open your eyes.

    Give away tickets to children! Give the cheapest tickets possible to anyone who wants to go to symphonic concerts. Let the giant “donors” see the asses in seats…the next thing you know there may be revenue to be derived from sponsorship!!!!
    It would be Amazing if naming rights to a hall or even principal chair were actually based on the MARKET ECONOMY.
    You know, network TV did it that way for a long, long , long time.

  • James Williams says:

    Another good reason is because the Maltz family donated several million dollars to create a program in which people under twenty-five can attend most concerts for free. I have been an orchestra subscriber for many years and have personally seen the increase in young folks in the audience. It is quite interesting to sit next to a group of young folks. By the way, I have found their attention and behavior better than some old folks’.

    • The View from America says:

      This makes sense what I’m reading here. I attended the Cleveland Orchestra concert in April that featured “La Tragedie de Salome” — see CleveOrchLover above (I’m from out-of-state). It was main floor, about 12 rows back on the RH side. There were about 30 seats to the right of me that were unoccupied until about 10 minutes before curtain time, when an entire retinue of young adults came in and sat in those seats.

      Curious, I asked one of them at the conclusion of the concert and was informed that they were a group of students attending some sort of (non-musical) symposium at Case Western Reserve University. As one of the non-curricular activities offered as part of the program, free tickets were offered for them to attend the orchestra’s performance. Echoing James Williams above, their behavior was impeccable, and they loved the young conductor Lionel Bringuier and the Florent Schmitt, Saint-Saens and Ravel works on the program — as well they should have, since the performances were really top-drawer.

      So, while it may be accurate to contend that the large numbers of young people attending TCO concerts are partially “ginned up,” “Astroturf” or whatever, I can’t find fault with it. Bringing young people into the concert hall and exposing them first-hand to the artistry is how classical audiences of the future are built.