Just in: Jaap gives $500,000 to NY Phil musicians fund

Just in: Jaap gives $500,000 to NY Phil musicians fund


norman lebrecht

June 16, 2020

Music Director Jaap van Zweden has donated a lead gift of $500,000 to the NY Phil Plays On Emergency Fund, supporting musicians in hardship during the Covid layoff.

Bringing the fund up to $3 million are ‘significant donations’ from board members and other supporters.

Jaap said: ‘This is such a challenging time, and I have been giving a great deal of thought to finding a way to demonstrate how valued the members of the New York Philharmonic are to me, to New York City, to the world. And so, I have decided to make a gift in their honor. I hope that this will inspire others to give and to keep supporting our great orchestra.’



  • RW2013 says:

    That’s one way to get your contract renewed.

  • Kevin Case says:

    Norman, I see no evidence that the “NY Phil Plays On Emergency Fund” is any kind of “musicians fund” or one that is intended to help “musicians in hardship.” Rather, it seems to be a fundraising campaign for the NY Philharmonic itself.
    The site for the fund, https://give.nyphil.org/campaign/ny-phil-plays-on-emergency-fund/c285842, describes it as a tool to replace “crucial revenue to sustain the Orchestra” that has been lost. And the press release announcing the Fund, https://nyphil.org/~/media/pdfs/newsroom/1920/Releases/covid-cancellations-final.pdf, refers to it as “a special fundraising campaign . . . to bridge losses due to
    COVID-19 pandemic.”
    None of this suggests that any portion of the money raised is allocated to NY Phil musicians (or any other musicians), other than what Local 802 and the Orchestra Committee can obtain for the musicians in bargaining.

  • PHF says:

    Great PR investment if we consider that his earnings is at least 4 times that every year.

    Also, it must be great as a musician of such orchestra to see the baton guy and front fiddle guy earning two to ten times more than any other section principal. Given the universal size of most of those guys egos inside that orchestra, this is almost ironic. Nothing like that to remember how failed this model of meritocracy is.

  • sam says:

    Heard that, Muti?

  • Deborath says:

    This is one way to save your own skin. I don’t think he is doing it from her kindly heart, but hey at least he is giving right?

  • Ben Legebeke says:

    This is a really supportive and generous gift of Jaap. The NYPO is a cultural monument in western civilization and Jaap is aware of this. People should respect this beautiful gesture.

    • Arthur says:

      I wonder how much money it would take to rebrand a humorless, bitter, insecure, frown-mouthed poser into a well-loved, talented, generous conductor? Oh, $500,000 and at least one photo where he wasn’t grimacing? Sounds about right, I guess he can afford it.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Huge numbers of people are doing it very tough right now. Anything at all than can help a particular cohort would be very much appreciated. Well done, Jaap.

  • HugoPreuss says:

    Seven comments so far, three of which are questioning the motives and sniping at the donor. Wow, great method to encourage other people to follow his example. How many conductors have contributed to some fund on this scale? Some have, I am sure, but how many? And yet, almost half of the people who have written comments so far see only selfishness or project other bad emotions. Have a happy life, you lot.

  • Freddynyc says:

    Hardship? Oh please. Aren’t they now being paid 75% of their current 6 figure salaries? While most of them are quarantined in their condos and homes in the Upper West Side or Westchester, they’re probably being paid for lessons off the books via Xoom……

    • Player says:

      Would it be better for you if they were furloughed like musicians from the Met? Are you actually from NY? You seem very bitter and resentful about your lot in life.

      • Freddynyc says:

        What is the point of moving up with the hall renovation if it’ll only be at most likely 50% capacity? And what is the current average subscriber age which is a likely concern post-Covid?Yes, you’ll need to jack up those lesson rates on Xoom. And btw NY Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra has a nice ring to it…… : p

    • Guest says:

      Yes, I’m one of those “quarantiners “ staying in my home ( very modest one, FYI, because we can’t afford anything better in this area), in NJ. My husband lost all his income and has seen $0 unemployment because everything is so backed up- and there is no end in sight. Not sure if you yourself are a New Yorker, but our salary in the best of times is not exactly affording a comfortable lifestyle in this area, even though, as you correctly noted, it is “six figures” ( before we took our COVID cut). Just so that you understand my comfortable reduced salary right now is only a couple hundred dollars above currently enhanced unemployment. I have a family of 4 to feed and mortgage to pay and I’m a sole provider at the moment. And no, I couldn’t find extra students to save my life, and those few I had- quit because of hardships their families had to endure.
      As in reply to others who are lashing out at our Music Director- he did a noble and wonderful thing- and the Orchestra is immensely grateful to him for doing this. Continue on with bad-mouthing!

    • NYMike says:

      FYI – some of the younger NYP musicians have had to move back in with their parents (some in Asia) and have considered not returning because they can’t afford to wait out this pandemic. The contract currently paying NYP musicians is up in September after which it’s anyone’s guess what their new terms will be. How about swallowing fewer bitter pills?

  • fflambeau says:

    Is he trying to buy musician support?

  • fflambeau says:

    Source please? There is nothing at the website to indicate this gift has been made. See https://give.nyphil.org/campaign/ny-phil-plays-on-emergency-fund/c285842

    • Bruce says:

      The language on your link says he “has donated a lead gift…” one of the instances where NL’s description actually matches the information on the website.

      I suppose it could be a pledge; pledges are usually treated like gifts because they are promises made in public. Also, a gift that large may not be made as one giant payment but several smaller ones over time.

  • HKMusician says:

    A generous gesture. I wonder how much Jaap is donating to the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

    • OtherHKmusician says:

      The HK Philharmonic musicians have lost no income from the almost 5 months of cancelled performances, and intend to resume work at the beginning of the 20-21 season in September.

  • sam says:

    To all you cynics, let’s see YOU contribute 25% of your salary back to your employer (even if you thought it’d get your contract renewed, or for whatever personal gain you think you could extract).

  • annnon says:

    If JvZ were really Machiavellian, he’d have contributed $500,000 to … the Concertgebouw.

    New York? Been there, done that…

  • Jaura says:

    Why are so many people so bitter and angry about musicians? Why do you even read this blog if you hate music so much? I just don’t understand this at all.

    • Player says:

      I’ve been wondering the same thing, Jaura. Before reading this blog, I had no sense of the hostility being directed towards me and my profession by a vocal group of listeners.

      • annnon says:

        That’s because you live in a bubble, not unlike Trump’s, in which our students are sycophants, your colleagues are ingratiating, your audience applauds no matter what, and you confuse the applause for Mozart for applause for you.

        Here we tell it like it is.

      • Bruce says:

        It’s an eye opener. I’ve told this story before, but:

        When my orchestra (the Spokane Symphony) went on strike in 2012 to protest a contract that would have set us back 6 years, the management (at the time) was able to do a pretty good job turning public opinion against the musicians by publishing our base salary, which was $17,000.

        The overwhelming reaction from the public was that musicians should be grateful to be paid at all, let alone such a princely sum. Before then, I had really only heard from music lovers who thought we should be paid more. (Or clueless music lovers who thought we were either volunteers or paid very handsomely, in the $80-90K range.)

      • Bill says:

        Possibly an unwarranted assumption that they are actually listeners…

    • John Borstlap says:

      It’s one of the mysteries of music life – the vocal ‘silent’ and deaf majority who seeks revenge for everything beyond their private misery. Before the coronie they came to the concert hall to hear how terrible it all was so that they can complain, at home, on twitter, to their 2 friends, and on SD.

    • Pete says:

      Jaura, a conductor isn’t thought of as a musician by the players in most top ranking orchestras! Get away with everything, it’s a silent job. If course there are the greats out there on one hand.

      • Jaura says:

        Pete, I am an orchestral musician and I don’t agree with you. I worked with most of the great ones and I feel strongly that many of them are fine musicians indeed.

    • Bruce says:

      It’s weird. We seem to like music, but we hate it when musicians make money. JvZ didn’t seem to bother anybody when he was “only” the highly successful conductor of Dallas and Hong Kong. It was only when he got that huge bonus in Dallas (funded, IIRC, by a huge donation made for that purpose, not a chunk taken out of the orchestra’s budget) that people started badmouthing him. And now that he makes a salary in the expected range for one of the biggest US orchestras, people are mad at him because he can afford to be generous? I don’t get it either.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Indeed. ‘Gifted people should not be paid generously’, especially not in the arts. ‘We love the myth of the starving artist’. It is a form of spiteful romanticism.

  • JR says:

    Maybe he didn’t get the memo: The musicians are still being paid at a slightly reduced rate but still way more than probably 90% of Americans! They don’t need more money.

  • Edgar Self says:

    A half million here, a half million there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

  • Marge O. says:

    in the us empire, the orchestras are supported by bake sales, wealthy patrons, donations, car washes and other stuff. the us govt does not care nor want to care about culture. their culture is one of economic hustling and imperialism.

  • Henry williams says:

    In the uk most people do not care about culture. The have no interest in classical music
    When i mention the arts they reply who cares.
    The main entertainment is eating out.

  • Clara Florence says:

    NYP management: JVZ, we cannot pay you for the concerts that did not happen.
    JVZ: Can we position it as a donation to the orchestra so that it looks good for the organization and me both?
    NYP management: OK.