Sunday, April 17, 2011

Those Fabulous Philadelphians

The recent news about the Philadelphia Orchestra's declaration of bankruptcy made me curious about the orchestra's beginnings. It was a far more innocent time in America, musically speaking. I feel for the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

This data comes from the Appendix of Frances Anne Wister’s Twenty-five years of the Philadelphia Orchestra

1900-1901 Season

Six regular concerts, one in Reading, Pennsylvania = 7

1901-1902 Season

Fourteen regular concerts
Fourteen public rehearsals
Twenty-four concerts elsewhere in Pennsylvania = 52

1902-1903 Season

Fourteen regular concerts
Fourteen public rehearsals
Five Beethoven concerts
Five popular concerts
Five young people’s concerts
Twenty Eight concerts in PA, NY, CT, MD, and NJ = 71

1903-1904 Season

Fourteen regular series concerts
Fourteen public rehearsals
Five Beethoven concerts
Five popular concerts
Five young people’s lecture concerts
Five people’s concerts (?)
Two special concerts
One Special (Thibaud) concert
Seventeen concerts in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Boston, and New York = 59

1904-1905 Season

Fifteen regular series concerts
Fifteen public rehearsals
Five People’s Concerts
One Special (Weingartner) Concert
Two concerts (Harrisburg, and Washington) = 38

1905-1906 Season

Eighteen regular series concerts
Eighteen public rehearsals
Four lecture concerts
Eighteen concerts elsewhere in MD, NY, NJ, and PA (and Washington) = 58

1906-1907 Season

Twenty regular series concerts
Twenty public rehearsals
Twenty-two concerts elsewhere = 62

1907-1908 Season

Twenty-two regular series concerts
Twenty-two public rehearsals
One memorial concert (Fritz Scheel)
Eighteen concerts elsewhere = 63

1908-1909 Season

Twenty-two regular series concerts
Twenty-two public rehearsals
Two concerts at the University of Pennsylvania
Seventeen concerts elsewhere = 67

1909-1910 Season

Twenty-two regular series concerts
Twenty-two public rehearsals
Ten popular concerts
Twenty-six concerts elsewhere = 80

[The 1916-1917 season had 112 concerts: 50 in Philadelphia, a series of 10 in Pittsburgh, and lots of touring. The right hand margin has been cut off the rather poor scan of the Appendix, which also includes (partial) scans of the Orchestra's conductors, soloists, and rosters by instrument, so it isn't possible to show their growth in their second decade here.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Elaine. I was going to sign up for some kind of 'identity' but gosh I'm not much of a joiner in such things.

It's sad about the Philadelphia Orchestra's travail, but I smell foolish management all over the reports I read from here.

Years before I took up singing professionally, I volunteered for a local community symphony, did fund raising, and served on the board in various capacities over the years. In the "backroom," the discussion was always a theme of wanting more than we could afford. The deficits rose year after year, and finally as a dissenting vote I was asked to step aside by my friend, who was the music director. Well, two years later the deficit/debt caught up with them, a couple of board members who had signed for bank notes got hit with collections, and of course the community symphony folded. It wasn't about tickets and audiences, or about musical quality and integrity. It was about debt amassing far too fast for us to deal with it in fund raising (which was my specialty in those years). That was sad, but I know first-hand the reason why the 501(c)3 group folded. Management and debt. And as I mention, my counsel to restrain the deficit was just over-ruled each year.

As I read the various news accounts, "between the lines" tells me that someone board members have been believing in the financial tooth fairy. Maybe worse. I don't think it's just the economic doldrums, because some things are prospering.

With a debt restructure, perhaps solid management can bring things back, but it will require building down the institution's scope to within its hard limits.

Some of the complaints in the news that the endowments can be raided are unfounded, if the terms of those endowments are highly sequestered/restricted. The answer must be financial sense and reining in the scope until income and outgo come into balance. This is one reason art has a hard-edged business side, sadly.

Happy spring from Germany.

Gary Bachlund