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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000747.txt from 1998/03

From: "David C. Blumberg" <>
Subj: Orch Salaries- the list of
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 1998 07:15:42 -0500

This is from Doug Yeo - Trombone of the Boston Sym. I think this will
settle the discussion on the # of full time Orch. in the US.

David Blumberg

Subject: re: orchestra salaries

Regarding orchestra salaries.....

Base salary of members of all American symphony orchestras are matters
public record as the orchestras are non-profit organizations. They file
annual reports, and must disclose their financial dealings to the
They must file tax returns even though as non-profits they pay no taxes.
Tax returns must list the five highest paid employees, typically the
executive director, music director, concertmaster, principal cello and
...... not bass trombone (well, come to think of it, in one

Remember that the "scale salary" is just that - the guaranteed MINIMUM
all players. This scale is typically paid to section string players,
most winds, brass and percussion players as well as first stand strings
negotiate their own contracts ABOVE the scale pay. In fact, any member
go the manager and make a case for more money, it's just that section
string players seem to be less able to make a case that they should be
more. Some orchestras have set "scales" for principals, asst
"sub-principals" (such as piccolo, tuba, eng horn, bass tormbone, 3rd
trumpet, 3rd horn, contrabassoon, etc). But every orchestra is
and PERSONAL salaries are highly guarded secrets among players and

In addition, players typically receive "seniority pay" above their
salary based on years of service in the orchestra. Add to this
pay for recordings, TV and radio (in some orchestras) and you see the
picture is fluid and not a figure one can etch in stone easily.

The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) publishes an informative
each year called "Wage Scales and Conditions in the Symphony Orchestra"
- I
have a copy from 1995-96 for ICSOM Orchestras, I presume they publish a
similar book for smaller orchestras as well. Copies can be obtained
the President's Office, AFM, 1501 Broadway, Suite 600, New York, NY

Such a book is obsolete when it hits the printing press as contracts are
always in negotiation, orchestras fold, recover and thrive. Here are
statistics form the 1995-96 report. This information is only the bare
bones, there are MANY things contained in the report (70 columns of
information) - however the request on the list was for info on salary;
also included vacation weeks and length of season. Keep in mind that
information is NOT CURRENT - for most orchestras things are better, for
some they are worse. For some MUCH better, for some MUCH worse. And
is NOT the only basis of comparison between orchestras. And, remember
list does not allow for footnotes and additional information to clarify
what some of the figures mean - it is simply a slketal basis of
Don't bother to bombard me with the "clarifications" that of course need
be put in here for some orchestras (Yes, I know that there are nonly 52
weeks in a year, but sometimes orchestras have a 53 year season because
calendar anomolies). If you want more information, get a copy of the
from the aFM or march down to your union office and look at a copy.

-Doug Yeo

Wage Scales in the Symphony Orchestra (ICSOM Orchestras)
1995-1996 Season
Published by the American Federation of Musicians
Scale amounts in US $

Orchestra Scale (annual) Season (weeks) Paid Vacation
--------- ----------- -------------- ----------------
Atlanta 54,860 52 56 days
Baltimore 56,420 52 56 days
Boston 74,360 52 10 weeks

Buffalo 21,622 32 0

Chicago Lyric Opera 39,480 + 28 14% of gross
Chicago Sym 75,920 52 8 weeks

Cincinnati 62,937 53 9 weeks
Cleveland 71,760 52 63 days
Colorado 23,199 37 4 weeks

Columbus (OH) 40,250 46 4 weeks
Dallas 54,340 52 8 weeks
Detroit 62,677 46 9 weeks

Florida Orch 23,275 37 3 weeks
Florida Phil 30,262 40 19 days
Grant Park Sym 8,130 8 0

Honolulu 11,429 16 0
Houston 55,250 52 63 days
Indianapolis 50,440 52 8.5 weeks

Kennedy Center Orch 28,450 26.5 4% of gross pers
Los Angeles 74,100 52 9 - 10 weeks
Louisville 22,102 40 3 weeks

Metropolitan Opera 85,000 52 8 weeks
Milwaukee 44,880 44 5 weeks
Minnesota 65,780 52 8 weeks

National (Wash DC) 61,620 52 8 weeks
New Jersey 23,596 31 2 weeks
New York City Ballet 38,700 30 4 weeks

New York City Opera 30,305 25 4 weeks
New York Phil 76,960 52 63 days
North Carolina 29,800 40-44 4 weeks

Oregon 32,310 43 29.5 days
Philadelphia 74,360 52 10 weeks
Phoenix 19,168 34 14 days

Pittsburgh 63,960 52 10 weeks
Rochester 34,650 42 4 weeks
St. Louis 60,840 52 9 weeks

St. Paul Chamber 44,753 36 3 weeks
San Antonio 26,130 39 20 days
San Diego 30,525 37 2 weeks

San Francisco Ballet 23,235 105 perf + 10% of basic
San Francisco Opera 48,657 29 2-4 weeks
San Francisco Sym 73,640 52 10

Syracuse 21,916 37 28 days
Utah 36,556 52 7-9 weeks

David Blumberg

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