Now that we’re well into the summer months, I thought I’d take a moment to see what people are writing about in the orchestra world. Here’s an excerpt from an article I found:
The situation of the symphony musician in the United States today is reflective of the somewhat tenuous economic status of symphonic music as an art form offering meaningful aesthetic experience to a limited public. The symphony musician is caught between the potent forces of general public apathy, a management dominated labor market, and a union that in someways works against his best interests. To these may be added the effects of a recording industry over which he has little control and which offers him only short-term rewards while extracting long-term profits. From the disjunction of his social position as a dependent craftsman and his idealized self-image as a gifted and highly skilled artist emerge problems of reconciliation of his social and aesthetic expectations with the realities of his occupational life. Strong commitments to the values of art and his chosen profession, essential to fine performance, are often undermined by unhappy experiences centering about unmet demands for material and status rewards, and the felt instability of his position. Sensing that others pull the strings that may ultimately affect his destiny, many a symphony musician experiences a chronic anxiety concerning his life [choices]: he feels such a situation is inconsistent with the image of the musician as the bearer of the highest kind of aesthetic value which he offers for the enrichment of the community.
—Excerpt from: THE CAREER EXPERIENCE OF THE SYMPHONY MUSICIAN
By David Westby
Written in 1960
What do you think about this passage? Has anything changed in the 53 years since the article was written? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section and I’ll follow up with my thoughts as we go.