Orchestra pledges to stop flying

Orchestra pledges to stop flying


norman lebrecht

December 20, 2019

The Vienna Symphony Orchestra has announced that it will travel in future by train – seven hours – to its summer residency at the Bregenz Festival, rather than take a plane.


The orchestra is looking to make all of its travel activities carbon neutral, saying ‘A tipping point has been reached, the matter will now be dealt with in a more concentrated and structured manner. CO2 compensation is a first, small and easily achievable step: we are currently evaluating all our activities in order to further reduce our footprint.’

The orchestra has eight tour planned in 2020 and is trying to travel as much as possible by train.

Other orchestras have responded more warily to our appeal to stop flying.

So far, only the London Philharmonic Orchestra has also written carbon neutrality into its mission statement.


  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    If the orchestras stopped flying,then we will miss out on all the great American orchestras. Otherwise, we will have to fly to USA ourselves, a country only appealing in its great elite institutions & impressive wildlife.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    It makes sense to travel within a continent by other transport other than plane, but this does not mean all touring to other continents should cease. A total nonsense. Perhaps we should urge sport teams, business and political delegations ,etc. to stop flying as well. Vienna Symphony is hardly a much in demand orchestra outside of Europe, so they can afford to make such a commitment.

  • PETA says:

    Yes, really a top priority for orchestras and classical music!

  • Alan says:

    A lot of nonsense. The worst kind of virtue signalling.

    • Dennis says:

      Indeed, these organizations should look into restricting methane emissions as well, given all the flatulant nonsense they emit.

  • WienerSymphoniker says:

    Dear Norman, I am afraid our plans aren’t that radical. We will continue to fly and currently don’t see any alternative to it. As a first step to become more environmentally sustainable however we will compensate for the CO2 emissions of all those plane journeys.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      I was giving you a free pass… but I’ll take it back if you don’t need it. Paying back to a government environment agency money that you have received from a government culture ministry hardly qualifies as good practice.

      • V. Lind says:

        Carbon offsetting is an increasing practice and one that should be emulated. I disagree with your point about using their grant to repay it — it becomes part of what they must budget for, and will therefore cause them to think before they fly.

        I assume they are talking about international touring as in Asia or North America (though I cant think when we last heard of them being here). I don’t see why they can’t manage it in Europe. Presumably they would talk about time commitments. Again, it just needs a rethink. It may not happen this minute, but they could start scheduling so that they could afford train time between their Vienna commitments.

      • Emil says:

        Compensating emissions should be part of basic travel costs. Not a luxury.
        Since you bring it up, will you be compensating the emissions for your book tour? If you fly while asking others to stop flying, that’s a minimum, no?

  • Symphony musician says:

    Carbon offsetting of flight CO2 emissions is the moral thing for orchestras to do at this point. Orchestras around the world will probably rush to replicate this move – nobody wants the PR damage that would accrue from being seen to react late.

  • Larry L. Lash / Vienna says:

    Good for them (and us)! It is a superb orchestra, and the ride to Bregenz – which I have often taken – is gorgeous, slicing through the Alps of Salzburg, Tirol, and Vorarlberg.

  • Frankster says:

    In France, the trains have replaced air travel. The new train from Paris to Bordeaux takes 2 hours, 4 minutes, about the time it takes to get to the outside-of-town airport, park in long term parking and get to the gate. The US could do that too but decided instead to give massive tax breaks to the 1% at the expense of the climate and the other 99% who breath the air. The Brits have privatized their rail system and are suffering the consequences.

    • Bill says:

      Delivering the density of train service found in France to the US would be exorbitantly expensive. Area of France is less than 6% of that of the United States. Strip out Alaska and it is still less than 8%. 5x the population spread over 12x the area. Get out a map and see what a short distance Bordeaux-Paris is on a map of the US!

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Frankster writes: “The Brits have privatized their rail system…”

      Er…no they haven’t. In Britain the government tells the operator what train vehicle to run (including how many carriages), at what time, on what track, which stations it will stop at, and what fare can be charged. About the only thing that the operator can do is to decide which colour to paint their trains.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Hate to break it to them but Railjet is electric, and that runs on power. Unless they have nuclear power, which is then the ideal solution!!

    It’s a great trip on Railjet to Bregenz, having done it many times myself.