What concertmasters earn

What concertmasters earn


norman lebrecht

August 03, 2017

Drew McManus has reached the third and last segment of his charts of high earners in US orchestras.

You’ve read the presidents’ and conductors’ salaries for 2014/15. Now the concertmasters, who have apparently suffered a pay cut for three successive years:

1 San Francisco Symphony: $640,714 (Alexander Barantschik)



2 Chicago Symphony: $549,963 (Robert Chen)

3 Los Angeles Philharmonic: $524,910 (Martin Chalifour)

4 Cleveland Orchestra: $501,155 (William Preucil)

5 Boston Symphony: $443,715 (Malcolm Lowe)

6 New York Philharmonic: $437,538 (Frank Huang)

7 Philadelphia Orchestra: $406,355 (David Kim)

8 National Symphony: $378,254 (Nurit Bar-Josef)

9 Dallas Symphony: $299,539 (Alexander Kerr)

10 Cincinnati Symphony: $294,868 (Timothy Lees)

You may notice a gender imbalance.


  • Bogdan says:

    I am 100% sure that David Chan who is the concertmaster of the MET Orchestra is among the top 10 earners!! His salary should be anywhere within 400.000 – 500.000 $

    • AMetFan says:

      True, David Chan probably should be on this list, although these are only symphony orchestras. Given the tremendous number of hours of rehearsal and performance at the Met, broken down as an hourly wage, it doesn’t look as good…excellent concertmaster. Kind of like Beverly Sills lamented that her coloratura outings didn’t pay by the note.

      • Anon says:

        Tremendous hours of performance on the MET? Seriously? The MET is playing maybe half the performances a major European opera house plays in one season. Is he the only concert master of the orchestra?

    • Bruce says:

      ^ to provide a small clarification to Met Fan’s comment: this covers only symphony orchestras, not opera or ballet orchestras. The Met would surely appear at or near the top of all these lists if it were included.

  • Sandora says:

    I am allright with this if all other members get at least half.

  • herrera says:

    Is the National Symphony (the only orchestra) subsidized substantially/wholly by federal funds?

    That would explain how they can afford such inordinately high salaries all across the board (musicians, concertmaster, conductor, management), compared to better orchestras, given that it is at best a mediocre regional orchestra, in quality and in reputation, and I doubt very much that there is a rich and cultured D.C. class to sustain it.

    • Operafan says:

      The NSO receives no federal money and is entirely funded with private support. The Kennedy Center, of which the NSO is a constituent part, receives federal funds for the upkeep of the building as a presidential memorial only; all its artistic activities are funded by donors (last year I believe donors contributed about $100 million to the Center).

      • Al says:

        Not true regarding government funds – while the Kennedy Center is the parent organization of the National Symphony, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has made direct grants to the National Symphony, in addition to separate grants to the Kennedy Center for other activities. Most recent grants to both are listed here (The Kennedy Center grant is for an artistic activity): https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/fall-2016-grant-announcement-state-listing-revised3.pdf

        • Operafan says:

          Sure – but the sums involved are absolutely negligible in the context of the total budget of both the NSO and the Kennedy Center; $105,000 across the two organisations. Hardly ‘subsidized substantially/wholly by federal funds’.

    • Mark Henriksen says:

      If you take out a map, you will notice that the area serviced by the NSO includes not only DC but parts of Virginia and Maryland. If you research richest counties in the USA, 4 of the top 5 in the USA, are in the metro DC area. So, there is that to consider alongside your statement “I doubt very much that there is a rich and cultured D.C. class to sustain it.”

      “At best a mediocre, regional orchestra”. First off, the population of the metro DC area is over 6 million. In contrast, for example, the Annapolis symphony, a member of the Regional Orchestra Players Association, has a population of 39k. So, regional doesn’t fit. “Mediocre” is an opinion. I’ll say this, the “big orchestras” come through town every years and attract the same audience as the NSO, and the audience response at NSO concerts remains very positive. I would not say this supports a characterization of mediocrity.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Question: when is the last time that you heard the NSO live?

      • Mark Henriksen says:

        Spring 2017

        • Don Ciccio says:

          My question was directed to Herrera. I agree with you that NSO is far from being mediocre. In fact even detractors acknowledge the improvements made under Christoph Eschenbach.

          That said, the NSO is still not quite first rate…

          • harold braun says:

            And Noseda will fix the rest!The glory days of the NSO are about to begin!

          • Anon says:

            As if conductors could be such magicians, would be nice, but it’s an illusion. They are only one part of the team in the kitchen, but sustainable quality changes in orchestras need much more than only a few weeks with a certain conductor a year.

    • harold braun says:

      It has become a world class orchestra ,rejuvenated.I heard performances of them in recent years which knocked my socks off.Clean your ears and listen!And Nurit Bar josef rocks!

  • Clifford K says:

    Once you factor in the cities/cost of living, Cleveland’s is by far the highest paid—as he should be

  • Bviolinistic says:

    No women? What says Mr Osborne?