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.


  1. John M says:

    There’s an old joke about an American opera singer asked to sing in Milan. She chose an Italian opera, and after her performance, a man in the front row shouted “Sing it again!” Honored by the request, she sang an encore – at the end of which the man again yelled “sing it again!”

    When the opera singer noted that the orchestra members were tired and needed to go home, the man replied: “No, sing it again – and keep singing it, until you get it right!”

    I would suggest that orchestras keep re-performing these various works in an effort to finally achieve the one, true, platonic ideal of a truly perfect performance. After which, if Sony can finally invent a method of fully reproducing the experience, the orchestras can then proceed to record other works, such as variations on Pop Goes the Weasel for flute and bassoon.

  2. Clay Potts says:

    Dear Mr. Morris,

    Your assertions are not without merit and I have always suspected the reason the conductor so seldom faces the audience is because he has been forced for so long to stand up and face the music.

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