Violinists Feel Cheated Over Pay
16 violinists in Bonn's Beethoven Orchestra are suing - they think that because they play more notes than their colleagues, they deserve more money. “Depending on the compositions being performed, the violinists are required to play more than wind players,” reported the orchestra's director Michael Horn. As a result, the musicians were taking their case to the local labour court in Bonn.
“Too many notes” was the verdict of Austria's Emperor Franz Joseph II after Mozart premiered his opera, 'The Abduction'. “In a Haydn symphony there sometimes aren't very many wind parts at all, while the strings are required all of the time,” Horn said. Tchaikovsky's 'Pathetique Symphony' reaps a goldmine for bass clarinet players - they play only five solo notes... joe-ks were made that each note was worth $200!
The violinists hope to be paid ~ 100 euros ($163) more per extra session played - they play up to 8 sessions per week compared to less frequent sessions for their colleagues. The Bonn Orchestra players gross an average of 3,000 to 4,000 euros per month, dependent on experience and seniority.
The violinists' action was not being condoned by the rest of the orchestra, and other string players (i.e. violas, celli & double-bass) were not involved in the lawsuit.
Can of worms? Perhaps those that play hardly any notes need more money - for the stress of sitting and waiting to play 2 minutes of a solo ... (if they play a bad note, it's far more noticeable)... Or perhaps payment should be based on the quality of notes - then the violins would be at a loss since they're heard as a section whereas winds, brass & percussions are heard as individuals much of the time... Or 'waiting time' payment for timpani players who sit for long interludes...
With the present state of the Arts worldwide, most players are thankful to have their jobs. Anyone who is in this for the money, though... we suggest a change of career!