Orchestre de Paris goes begging for an English instrument

Orchestre de Paris goes begging for an English instrument


norman lebrecht

April 21, 2021

The lavishly subsidised Orchestre de Paris, unable to afford a new doublebass, has gone crowdfunding.

They specifically want an instrument made in Oxford (c’est en Angleterre). Maybe they can’t afford it because of EU import taxes.

Ask M. Macron.

Anyway, howls of derision are filling up the comments section.




  • christopher storey says:

    I suppose I should be astonished, but ……..

  • Ulrich Brass says:

    You must be joking…

    English musical organisations are constantly begging for donations. Every time you buy a ticket online you get asked to donate. They send you one email per week or per months begging for money.

    Now they are asking even more to cover the EU visa fees they desperately need for surviving

  • Ben G. says:

    What chutzpah!–crowdfunding has now become a new budget resource for l’Orchestre de Paris?

    Prestigious and expensive Violins that are purchased by banks and are lent to Concertmasters, are a totally different story.

    However, I have never heard of any orchestra using these means to purchase an instrument, especially a group that belongs and works for the City of Lights. If any of you out there know of similar cases, please share.

    This English instrument is superb, but there are many excellent Bass makers in France too. Why go and look elsewhere?

    Finally, it’s not the price nor the origin of the instrument that make the music sound better– it’s the player, him or herself.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    As a fund raising idea this is not a bad one. Here in the US orchestras have taken to naming “endowed chairs” for this or that orchestral position. The player obviously gets none of the swag, at least not directly. The benefactor gets his or her name in the program book, maybe gets to know the musician a little bit, the orchestra gets some money, and all are happy.

    Maybe this is new to the OdP but at least in the US I could see this catching on: the orchestral tympanist occupies the Mr and Mrs. ABC percussion chair, and plays the Mr and Mrs XYZ set of tympani.

    Of course really big bucks get the hall named for you, or the loge, or this or that staircase. But for significant but not jaw-dropping amounts, why not “buy the instrument for us”? Makes more sense than asking for money for a chandelier and then naming it for the donor.

  • Sisko24 says:

    Is it ordinary practice for European orchestras to buy basses for their orchestra members? If so, that would seem to be light-years ahead of US practice which I believe is that bass players buy and upkeep their own instrument.

    • Ben G. says:

      Yes. In France, orchestras own their Basses, Percussion and Harps, etc.. and usually maintain their upkeep yearly (new sets of strings, and skins).

      Orchestral members work for the city. This is why I find the audacity of getting a crowd to fund their purchase simply unneccesary and a tad bit “sneaky” in such a case.

      Sure,– let them buy the instrument and have the city pay for it. Paris obviously has the funds!

  • Hawkes's son's friend says:

    Hmmm, so musical instruments are not like artwork that cannot be taken out of the country without the consent of the cultural ministry, and the national government given the right to buy it first?

    I do dislike the French, I think I’m going to go and buy it from under them, and gift it to the LSO, so that the LSO can use it on tour when in Paris.

  • If they could put some branding on it they might get a corporate donor to foot the cost.

    A Nike swoosh on the side. Or paint the whole thing red&white like a Coca-Cola can.

    Endless possibilities.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    “Howls of derision are filling up the comments section.”
    I’m howling at this statement!

  • Fiddleman says:

    It would be interesting to know how much the bass costs. While it is clear that a strad or guarneri, costing millions of dollars is unaffordable for an orchestral musician, many very good sounding modern instruments are well within the means of working musicians. There are many orchestral musicians who have made the sacrfice to put up their own money in order to play on an instrument that is their very own.

  • Larry W says:

    Sounds good, but there’s no basses for comparison.

  • No, ask Boris Johnson.