Breaking: Austrian government saves radio orchestra

Breaking: Austrian government saves radio orchestra


norman lebrecht

March 23, 2023

Plans by the national broadcaster ORF to scrap the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra were tonight ruled off limits by the federal Government after a musical outcry around Europe.

ORF was told to make its cuts elsewhere, amounting to 300 million Euros over the next three years.

The Austrian Culture Secretary Andrea Mayer said: ‘With our joint commitment to the continued existence of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, we as the government are stating that the planned savings of this orchestra of international appeal are off the table.’

Next stop, BBC?


  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I wonder if this will put a squeeze on the Tonkunstler Orchester, as the ORF has been involved in producing their fine series of recordings with Yutaka Sado. They generally play in the Musikverein, while the Radio Orchestra usually performs in the larger Konzerthaus. I’ve been very liking the recordings the Radio Orchestra has been putting out on Naxos with Marin Alsop.

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    Honestly, I was never worried about the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien. Every few years the ORF managers inform the government that the ORF doesn’t have enough funds and that they will make cuts, starting with the orchestra. The government immediately gives them money so they can save the orchestra.

    What happens is:

    1. the production costs of the ORF programs and the salaries of the top managers are ridiculously high and
    2. more and more people have stopped owning a TV, and the income from TV licenses is reducing year by year (in Austria, like in the UK and Germany, one has to pay a tax for having a TV set at home – this money is, in theory used, to maintain the ORF). Why? Let’s face it, ORF programs are terrible and people prefer to pay for streaming platforms and watch them on non-GIS devices that do not require a TV license. [I myself, gave my TV set away and now save 350 EUR a year. Don’t want the TV, don’t need it. I pay subscriptions for what I actually want to watch!].

    So, Herr Weißmann goes to the government earlier this year and says he’s disbanding the orchestra… but the thuth is that he knew that wasn’t going to happen because the government would never allow it (because classical music is a source of national pride, and a huge business in Austria), and they would give the ORF the money he needed. In 10 years we will hearing again that they need more money or they will disband the orchestra.

    • Gianni says:

      Thank you, great analysis. Interestingly, that whole Austrian music „business“ is based on taxpayer’ money. Without that it wouldn’t survive a single day. But don’t mention that to any of those musicians or their friends and fans. They feel absolutely entitled to other people’s money, and may become quite rude or even aggressive when you dare to question that …

  • Hal Sacks says:

    Marin Alsop will keep her Austrian podium. A good thing.

  • Mecky Messer says:

    This is the problem.

    Bad management, cronysm, waste, corruption, nepotism, and a plethora of no-no’s which would bankrupt any company faster than you can say “silicon valley bank” are completely rampant in the world of the arts…..


    Because of the “but its culture” excuse, these pseudo organizations get bailed out time and time and time and time again.

    Disgusting and wasteful.

    It only delays the inevitable.

  • Gustavo says:

    “ORF was told to make its cuts elsewhere…”

    There are likely to be natural savings opportunities in the transmission of winter sports events under climate change conditions.

  • Robin Blick says:

    I blinked in disbelief when I read this. Abolishing a top Vienna orchestra is an act of sacriledge. Maybe whoever proposed this took their cue from the BBC.

  • Branko Deronja says:

    Please don’t diminish your musical culture. We Canadians depend on Austria and Wien to maintain traditions. This world in general needs Wien.
    We come every year to recharge our batteries.