Dudamel waives salary, Muti takes cut

Dudamel waives salary, Muti takes cut


norman lebrecht

April 11, 2020

The LA Phil has cancelled the rest of its season. Its music director has foregone his wages.

There will be layoffs for 94 part-time employees and 35% pay cuts for the leadership team.

In Chicago, music director Riccardo Muti and president Jeff Alexander have each taken a 25% salary cut.


  • anon says:

    Check the salaries on the IRS 990 forms available on line. I don’t think a 25% cut of a salary of over $1,000,000 is much of a gesture of generosity or solidarity with struggling musicians and artists.

  • M2 says:

    Dudamel’s sacrifice: No compensation during cancellation period.
    Musicians: “Will receive 65% of their weekly minimum scale beginning April 20.” No info as to seniority pay, if any…
    Info from LA Times

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    Hugely overrated and probably hugely overpaid as well.

  • M2 says:

    LA Phil: Of course, members earn seniority pay. The question is what games are being played with it right now.

  • sam says:

    A tale of 3 cities:


    – Orchestra members will receive 65% of their weekly minimum scale beginning April 20.

    – Gustavo Dudamel, will take no compensation during the cancellation period


    -Orchestra members will receive weekly minimum scale in April then 75% of their weekly minimum scale in May, etc

    – Jaap van Zweden no cut.


    –Orchestra members will receive 20% of their salary

    – Riccardo Muti takes 25% pay cut

    Conclusion: More questions than answers.

    1) Chicago musicians are really getting a % cut of their full pay rather than minimum scale? That’s mighty generous!

    2) What’s the point of being the highest paid orchestra (LA), when in times of crises, your salary gets cut more than your peers’?

    3) So the Dude gets no pay for the cancellation, but Muti still gets paid 75% during the cancellation?

    4) JvZ’s compensation probably not affected because he is already being paid so low compared to his peers in LA and Chicago, where Muti makes in excess of $3 million including benefits and all.

    • SMH says:

      Just wait, if the Phil has to cancel the Hollywood Bowl season it will be apocalyptic for the organization……

    • El Cid says:

      The Dude is naive and easily manipulated. He became a Judas by betraying his country that gave him the scholarship to be a musician. If her were not born in Venezuela but in the United States, he’d be selling drugs or be in jail.

  • Skippy says:

    Conductor salaries are an outrage.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    No wonder you’ve got a polarizing President; judging by the nastiness and envy of these comments dissent and division existed in the USA long before he landed in the White House. Look at yourselves!! Oh, but it’s better to blame Trump; so intellectually lazy.

    • Amos says:

      Intellectual sloth thy name is Sue Sonata. I would certainly be enviable of someone with a multi-million dollar position which pays me 75% of my salary while on furlough whereas those who make my position tenable receive pennies on the dollar. As for our president, his incompetence and stupidity to date have merely resulted in over 500K officially infected and 20K dead.

      • Lee Chang says:

        We don’t see Biden, Sanders, Harris, Obama, Hillary, etc. donating or raising cash for the arts…DO WE?

      • Warren Thompson says:

        So why do these organizations still CHOOSE to perpetuate “financial inequality”?

        PS Amos, the COVID19 Virus was “Made in CHINA”. You admit too bad Trump didn’t seal the borders faster then??? How solicitous. Your pride in the suffering of others is both immature and revolting!

        • Amos says:

          A few facts for the trumpistas and neo-fascists:
          (1) The virus was NOT made anywhere it originated in China and quickly spread.
          (2) trump was made aware of the existence of the virus and the consequences starting on January 3rd. See NY Times for the chronology.
          (3)trump did not ban travel from China on the 23rd but limited it with at least 40K people entering the US after that date.
          (4)When trump was told to ban travel from Europe he refused because of the effect on the stock market.
          (5)For 2 months trump denied the consequences of viral spread and did NOTHING to institute nationwide testing and increasing supplies of PPE.
          (6)The US still has inadequate testing with less than 1% of the population tested for virus and no one tested for neutralizing Ab.
          Opening the country without testing will be a disaster.

          • deborah says:

            Then stay home. There millions people out work and out food. Better to “die” out instead of fear in your home.

      • M2N2K says:

        Your statement would have made any sense if it was the POTUS himself who personally manufactured the virus and then let it loose all over the world.

        • Amos says:

          So as POTUS he is only responsible if he made and spread the virus? Sorry but that is idiotic. As POTUS he and he alone was briefed repeatedly about the consequences of doing nothing and consciously opted to do nothing to mitigate the outcome for 2 months. Worse he lied and told the country that everything was under control and that the virus would soon disappear. Now that the damage has been done he claims the 50 Governors are responsible and that it is up to them to come up with policies that will enable him to re-open the country. National crises require coordinated national policies led by the President.

          • john f kelly says:

            ……….but not by President Clouseau.

          • M2N2K says:

            Of course he should have acted earlier – no one disputes that – but no matter how early, there was no way to prevent ALL infections to occur in USA by the time enough was known about the virus to effectively act on nationwide basis. That is why your blaming him for ALL cases (your 500K and 20K figures that were approximately the totals a couple of days ago when you cited them) is truly unfair. Other than North Korea which would not be a good example for several reasons, there is no large country that acted so early and perfectly that it avoided ALL infections. A large percentage of all these cases is definitely caused by millions of people who even now still do not take the threat seriously enough and do not follow recommendations that are given to us daily by medical professionals.

          • Amos says:

            Compare the US totals not with North Korea but South Korea. South Korea experienced its first case on the same day that the US did and acted immediately to ramp up testing and implemented a nationwide strategy. Would every case in the US have been prevented obviously not but when trump announced that we have 15 cases which will soon be zero and said that everything is under control, when he was told repeatedly that wasn’t the case, then he owns everything that follows. As President, you don’t get to act as incompetently as he has and then demands to be thanked for doing “a very good job”.

          • M2N2K says:

            Words and appearances are important, it substance and deeds are much more so.

          • M2N2K says:

            Replace “it” with “but”.

          • M2N2K says:

            According to official figures, even South Korea, which is indeed probably the most successful of all large countries in minimizing effects of COVID-19, still has over 10600 people infected and 230 dead. Their population is less than one-sixth that of USA and has a far more disciplined culture, so it is much more easily and effectively controlled. Besides, in a democratic/republican/federalist country that includes fifty somewhat autonomous states, POTUS, thank goodness, is still not anywhere close to being an absolute monarch (notwithstanding some of Donald Trump’s pronouncements) and therefore does not have the power to control every aspect of every person’s life. Limited power means limited responsibility, which is why blaming him and him alone for all infections and deaths in the entire country is just as “idiotic” as denying that he is responsible for any.

    • fliszt says:

      And how are you so sure that these comments were written by americans?

    • anon says:

      What a nonsequitur!

      Envy??? Nastiness??? Perhaps instead an objection to the disparity in salary between full time musicians and conductor/music directors who are in residence less than full season and the different “remedies” applied to those impacted by this pandemic.

    • John Kelly says:

      Unfortunately, and putting it as kindly as I can manage, the USA is being led by a malevolent version of Inspector Clouseau and is surrounded by a bunch of boot licking curs, as you can see on every single “Daily Update” from the White House.
      We need Eisenhower, not Benito M…

      • Amos says:

        I would exclude Dr. Fauci from the bootlicking curs as well as Dr. Birx although I find her head bobbing when the clown in chief speaks annoying.

        • John Kelly says:

          Agreed but they’re the only exceptions. And Dr Birx, scarfgirl in chief, needs to learn how to present data not insane charts with so many lines on them that nobody can see what they are trying to show. You’d be fired anywhere else for such nonsense……

  • Doug says:

    Instead of $5.3 million it’s now $5.275 million. How positively painful.

  • AnonFlute says:

    LA Phil musicians apparently receiving no overscale/seniority/etc. All musicians cut to base salary and then a 35% cut from there. So that’s a huge cut for some of the principal players I’m sure you can imagine. Management are taking similar cuts. Dudamel takes no pay.
    All the musicians and management and Dude seem to be sharing the burden. Not sure what the financial situation is with them in regards to the Bowl, but it looks like they are all in it together, which seems to me to send a strong message of solidarity from the top to the bottom.
    I wish them and all other orchestras good luck and health in the months to come.

    • Tuba Minimum says:

      If the Bowl season gets cancelled in any significant way, it would be pretty devastating from what I can tell. I had a friend who worked in their marketing department several years back who explained that their revenue goal in those 3 months is twice that of their goal for the 8 months at Disney Hall. One season is a slow money loser that relies on donors to make up the costs (which is true of any orchestra), the other actually makes money and pads the coffers.

      As far as the impact on the musicians, it’s also worth noting that the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra as well as the LA Phil would get hit. I haven’t heard anything about whether this is impacting the former yet.

  • Bruce says:

    Our executive director and music director have both forfeited their salaries while this thing is going on. In addition, our music director is paying the musicians’ portion of our health insurance premiums out of his own pocket. We have a 50/50 arrangement, so that means a couple hundred dollars a month per musician. (Not every musician is on the symphony insurance plan.)

    These are significant gestures of solidarity, IMHO. I am not privy to what our ED’s and MD’s salaries are, but in an orchestra where the base pay is $19,000 a year, we can safely bet that they are nowhere near the Dudamel/ Muti/et al. figures.

  • El Cid says:

    Dudamel has foolishly returned his salary to the wealthy patrons of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. If he had ever had an ounce of gratitude from Venezuela that gave him everything, he could have donated the money to the families of El Sistema in Venezuela to cope with the Corona virus pandemic reeking havoc in his homeland. The people of Venezuela will see that gave money to the rich of Los Angeles turned his back on those who gave him everything. History will no be kind to Dudamel. Sad if it were not tragic.

    • PishPosh says:

      History tends to be kinder to artists than the governments who would silence and ex-communicate them.

      Venezuela gave him everything with the caveat that he had to sign away his tongue and conscious at the door. Go represent the country on a global scale, build good will and admiration for your homeland, but don’t you dare open your mouth and say anything beyond happy platitudes that please your fearless leaders. Some viola player from El Sistema is killed in the street during a protest? Smile and conduct. An economic and political crisis is ripping your country apart, best not dare say a word against the government.

      • M2N2K says:

        When GD did start criticizing Nicolas Maduro government’s actions several years ago, he immediately became persona non grata in his native country and all of his concert tours with El Sistema alumni orchestra were cancelled.

  • M2 says:

    There is no evidence that the LA Phil’s CEO—-CHAD Smith, successor to SIMON Woods, who was successor to DEBORAH Borda of NY Phil—is taking any cut all.

    If I am wrong, please clarify.

    • Tuba Minimum says:

      I would think the reported 35% (or more) cut to senior staff applies to the CEO, no?

      • M2N2K says:

        Of course it does, but keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of orchestra members are experiencing far more substantial cuts.

      • M2N2K says:

        Of course it does, but overwhelming majority of orchestra members are experiencing, percentage-wise, much larger cuts.

      • M2N2K says:

        Sorry for essentially repeating myself, but when i wrote the first of these comments, it did not look like it went through – even a full day later.