Longest serving violinist in a UK orchestra?

Longest serving violinist in a UK orchestra?


norman lebrecht

October 01, 2018

Tony Burrage, 71, retires from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra this week after 47 years.

In modern times, that may well be a record for a British string player.


  • Anon says:

    So he doesn’t have to retire at 65, as is the case in London’s self governing orchestras! Best wishes to him.

    • Simon Scott says:

      With some orchestras turning 60 is tantamount to a sackable offence.

    • Chris says:

      It might be worth checking the retirement age from ANY UK orchestra, given the legislation which came in a few years ago whereby most employers lost the power of requesting an employee to retire at 65. I stayed at work till I was 76, the legislation having come into force about three days after my 65th birthday

      • Simon Scott says:

        Wouldn’t have it any other way.
        Derek,tell me all! Remember,I am a violinist therefore I lay claim to be unshockable.
        Go for it Derek!

  • Simon Scott says:

    To be more serious,after 47 years I am sure that Mr Burbage has story or two to tell us.
    Let’s hear them!

  • Vaquero357 says:

    Mandatory retirement age from a private institution? I’m an American – what is that?

    I don’t think even our government employees *have* to retire (except maybe fire/rescue/law enforcement), though most do because why keep working when you can collect a pension?

    And Mr Burrage is only 71 – he still has plenty of time for a second career!

    • Bill says:

      Airline pilots have mandatory retirement at 65 in the US – used to be 60 until recently.

      As for why one might keep working rather than retire at the earliest possible occasion, pension benefits are often defined by years of service and/or pay in final years, so working a few more years not only gets you paid for those extra years, but more money in those pension checks when you do finally hang it up.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Actually, many people quite like their job. And have nothing much to do upon retirement. Being an orchestra musician can be quite enjoyable, especially at the back of the tutti section if you are quite old and not particularly ambitious.

  • Matt Downes says:

    I think Richard Peake of the Royal Opera House Orchestra has done 49 years! Any advance?

  • Jack says:

    Rudolf Kolisch, founder of the Kolisch Quartet which premiered works of Schoenberg, Berg, Webern and Bartok, was forced to retire from the University of Wisconsin when he reached the ‘mandatory’ retirement age of 70. He got his walking papers and marched over to Yale and was a distinguished professor on that faculty for eleven more years.

    • Jack says:

      Added note: University of Wisconsin no longer has the age seventy retirement requirement. It was abandoned a few years after Kolisch retired in the late 1960s

  • Robert Holmén says:

    In the absence of mandatory retirement ages, what is the process for dealing with should-have-retired-already in various orchestras?

    • Bill says:

      I understand the contracts in the US often have some provision for removing a tenured player if performance is wanting, but there’s usually an involved process of documentation, evaluation, etc. that few want to actually go through. Sometimes it is easier to use the “make them miserable until they get the hint” approach…

  • Dan Redding says:

    He’s probably getting out while he’s ahead. Doubt there will be a RLPO left after the scandal of late. Unless they sack their chief exec before he causes more damage

    • Marjorie Wilson says:

      I’m intrigued by your comment, Dan! I was under the impression that the RLPO has thrived in recent years (since the arrival of Petrenko) and that the balance sheet is healthy. Please would you explain what you feel has been happening. What was the ‘scandal’ you refer to?