Paris musicians refuse to wear concert uniform

Paris musicians refuse to wear concert uniform


norman lebrecht

January 10, 2020

Members of the Orchestre de Paris refused to wear concert gear last night ‘in solidarity with striking members of the company’.

Their stance was announced by microphone to the audience ahead of the concert, cnducted by Herbert Blomstedt.

Mr Blomstedt, 92, was appropriately attired, as ever.

The OdP performed Mozart K488 with Bertrand Chamayou as soloist, followed by Bruckner’s 4th symphony.


  • Mike Schachter says:

    Quite, the world’s largest kindergarten.

  • John Borstlap says:

    In these times, the real thing to protest about is the impoverishment – in all senses – of the French countryside where small towns and villages are dying-out and provisions are disappearing, turning whole areas into something like a developing country. With pensions this has nothing to do, however.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      But with rampant social welfare it most certainly does. The people haven’t yet figured out that debt is horrendously destructive; it leaves no room for government to do the necessary nation building and it certainly is no bulkhead against sudden calamity or natural disaster.

      Just like household debt, if you are left with nowhere to go then nowhere is where you will go. I blame decades of government capitulation to the handout mentality and the tax burden falling on their hard-working, ordinary people.

      The reality is that not everybody can expect the same standard of living as the middle class. Trying to engineer that can only lead to bigger problems.

      Surely Macron’s wife is old enough to understand all of that by now!!!

  • Ben G. says:

    Unlike the train company SNCF, or airplane controllers etc., when French musicians protest and go on strike, it doesn’t hurt anyone.

    Why don’t male orchestral musicians not iron their white shirts as a symbolic gesture? 😉

    • Irons suck says:

      Don’t most male orchestra musicians already not ever, I mean like ever, iron their white shirts?

    • Chris says:

      Being mostly French, the male orchestra players probably don’t iron their own white shirts already. Lol

    • Orchestral Musician says:

      I faintly recall hearing the phrase “iron your white shirts”, when I was a child, but I cannot remember what it means. I shall research this obscure activity at once.

  • Strange way to act… Anyway this orchestra made some big progres during the last years thanks to Jarvi son and Harding. With the every big succes of Paris Philarmonie and a new partnership with it they have more money and they can guest more prestigious director like Gergiev and Chailly this month.

  • BP says:

    To be clear Herbert Blomstedt looked dapper in a fine suit and tie but, like the orchestra, was not dressed in his usual concert attire. The technical crew was on strike so it should also be noted the house lights stayed on for the duration of the concert and the stage lay flat and unraked. A short speech was read by one of the musicians to open the evening and express solidarity with the strikers, with some in the audience hissing and booing.
    Most importantly, the concert went on and we were treated to some memorable Bruckner !

    • norman lebrecht says:

      thank you for these details, which were somehow not covered by French media.

      • In France the media don’t talk a lot about the life of the orchestras. Opera is more important for the journalists in Paris. So the ballet of the other day in the street was more important for them.

    • Tristan says:

      Sorry guys but France never had a first class orchestra unlike the UK, Germany, Austria or the Netherlands
      France generally has become a shame

  • MacroV says:

    This reminds me of about 15 years ago when the Montreal Symphony players were wearing red t-shirts during a contract dispute. Much as I sympathized with their cause it struck me as rather disrespectful toward their audience. Not that I like the penguin suit.

    It does suggest to me that more orchestras should adopt the Berlin Phil model, where they would essentially have to strike against themselves.

  • Karl says:

    Does anyone else think concert attire is outdated? Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducted the Montreal Opera wearing a t-shirt a few years ago. Couldn’t the orchestra get some well needed money by having the players wear Budweiser t-shirts?

    • Brian v says:

      The orchestra should ware ordinary clothes much more comfortable.

    • Byrwec Ellison says:

      OMG!! More product placement in the concert hall? This reminds me that in gratitude for large donations from a private donor and a supermarket chain in ’97, the name given to the auditorium of Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles was a gnarled mouthful: the Ron Burkle-Ralphs/Food 4 Less Foundation Auditorium.

    • Dario says:

      I *hate* wearing a coat for concerts (I’m a violinist). One of the orchestras I play in has gone to black shirts and ties for men instead of tuxes.

      Much more comfortable, much easier to play in.

    • Petros LInardos says:

      In my ideal world classical musicians should dress respectfully and discreetly: the attire should not attract attention. Suits meet those criteria, but they are not the only options.

    • Anon says:

      Seems several orchestras are changing their concert dress to something less formal. Last night the LSO looked odd at their concert. Is this the new British way?

    • Terence says:

      And they could pause those long boring symphonies every ten minutes for advertisements … giving the ushers time to sell hot dogs & ice cream.

      But seriously, I do agree the white ties & tails should go.

    • Chris says:

      Someone will no doubt correct me but didn’t the Orchestre de Paris get some sort of sponsorship deal on its foundation about 50 years ago, in the form of midnight blue tails?

  • Brian v says:

    The orchestra should dress in ordinary clothes

  • Dennis says:

    I’m sure dressing in a more slovenly fashion will work wonders for whatever cause their “dress-down day” was meant to support.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Blomstedt; what a class act. Long may he continue, beloved as he so obviously is.

  • Brian v says:

    Sorry about the spelling too much Christmas drink

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    It is remarkable how Herbert Blomstedt pops up everywhere. He has become much more prominent in old age than when he was younger. Like David Attenborough , and to a lesser extent Queen Elizabeth, he seems so youthful.

  • David says:

    I’m curious why the comment section of this blog attracts a more conservative neoliberal audience, in particular from those who like to express disdain and superiority over any hint of liberal values? I’m genuinely curious, as it is usually the opposite amongst the artists and performers themselves.

  • Richard Bloesch says:

    I’m curious to know how Chamayou played. He is a pianist I like very much.

  • Piano Lover says:

    On strike again in one way or another..
    These french people are a shame.Do they like music???Or do they like retirement?
    let them go away.Music does not deserve them.

    • Ryan G says:

      Yes, because being a musician today is 100% about liking music and has got nothing to do with livelihood or rights. After all, they have trained and dedicated their entire lifetime to perform sacred music that people like you with no talent can only dream of playing, so they should just feel grateful for that! What more can they ask, am I right!?