Sir: I write to protest a colossal waste of money. I do not know where the money comes from, or whether it is public or private money; I know only that it is being wasted, and wasting money was a crime in my family when I was growing up, worse than slamming the bathroom door but not quite as bad as painting the cat orange. I am speaking of these so-called “symphony orchestras” that infest nearly every city in the country, and (from what I understand) a good many cities abroad as well.
I picked up a flyer for our local symphony this afternoon, and the first thing I noticed was that the orchestra will be playing Beethoven’s Third Symphony this weekend. Beethoven’s Third! Why, my mother had a perfectly good recording of Bruno Walter and the Columbia Symphony playing Beethoven’s Third more than fifty years ago! What on earth is the use of playing it again?
In fact, I did a bit of research, and I found that only three items on this entire season’s concert schedule have not been recorded. What on earth is the matter with these people? Why are they reinventing the wheel at almost ruinous expense? Why do people flock to these concerts to hear the same thing they could hear at home for a quarter the price? If they must all enjoy the same music together at the same time, that is what we have disk jockeys for. We hear much of the scourge of poverty in our own back yard, but it is no wonder people are poor if they are flushing money down the toilet to buy worthless symphony tickets!
There remains the possibility that the music is performed primarily for the enjoyment of the musicians themselves. If that is the case, the only equitable thing to do is to charge the musicians for the privilege of playing it. Perhaps if they have to shoulder the costs themselves, they will think twice about such extravagances as Bruckner symphonies and stick to some more efficient form of music, like “Pop Goes the Weasel.” ——Sincerely, Doug Morris, CEO, Sony Music Entertainment.