Orchestra Music Director Salaries Disclosed

Thursday, July 05, 2012 - 04:02 PM

Philadelphia Orchestra Philadelphia Orchestra (Ryan Donnell)

Adaptistration, the blog on the orchestra business, has published its annual charts of salaries for most of the major American orchestras’ music directors and executives. Their numbers cover the 2009-10 season. There are a few surprises, and the range is vast.

The data, which was compiled by editor Drew McManus based on the orchestras' IRS 990 Forms, reveals that the average music director compensation decreased 6.77 percent from 2008-09 to 2009-10. For many nonprofits, this was the first season that began to see the effects of the global recession on arts funding.

At the top of the list is the Philadelphia Orchestra, which paid chief conductor Charles Dutoit with $1.83 million. On its heels is the San Francisco Symphony, which gave Michael Tilson Thomas $1.8 million, and the Boston Symphony, giving James Levine $1.3 million.

Below is the top ten list:

  1. Philadelphia Orchestra: $1,827,801
  2. San Francisco Symphony: $1,801,627
  3. Boston Symphony: $1,321,779
  4. Dallas Symphony: $1,113,134
  5. New York Philharmonic: $1,082,277
  6. Cleveland Orchestra: $1,075,204
  7. Minnesota Orchestra: $1,035,622
  8. Saint Louis Symphony: $954,392
  9. Seattle Symphony: $699,048
  10. Baltimore Symphony: $685,812

McManus also looks at the top-paid executives in the business. While the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Gustavo Dudamel was missing from the music director tally (his first season with the orchestra), its president and CEO, Deborah Bordah, topped the executive list.

  1. Los Angeles Philharmonic: $1,397,746
  2. New York Philharmonic: $860,210
  3. Boston Symphony: $603,171
  4. Atlanta Symphony: $593,294
  5. San Francisco Symphony: $495,044
  6. Chicago Symphony: $482,560
  7. Cleveland Orchestra: $460,958
  8. Dallas Symphony: $436,670
  9. Saint Louis Symphony: $406,327
  10. Minnesota Orchestra: $404,049

More charts can be found at Adaptistration.com.

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Comments [4]

Perry from Brooklyn

Oh, let's not be so protective of the privacy rights of these very handsomely recompensed entertainer's salaries. It's instructive to know how much they make in comparison to the real musicians--the players, who are not superstars but do the yeoman's work. It's also interesting from the perspective of the many millions of the unemployed and underemployed in the US of the Great Recession. How many of them play or sponsor benefits for the poor or for urban children.

Feb. 02 2013 08:53 PM
Michael Hagel from New Jersey

After reading the comments from Edward and Steve I simply had to write in and say Bravo to WQXR for posting this information. The point of nonprofit public disclosure is so the public can evaluate whether or not their donations and support are being spent as they should. There's nothing scandalous about publishing this information, quite the contrary. And the moment we begin believing that artists, irrespective of what anyone believes is their individual value, are above scrutiny is the moment abuses begin.

So THANK YOU to WQXR and sites like Guide Star and Charity Navigator for making this information available. Please don't let comments like those from Edward and Steve prevent you from posting articles like this in the future.

Jul. 11 2012 11:11 AM
Steve Sohn from NYC

I am in complete agreement with Mr. Lubin: the income of these artists is their business, and the joy and distraction they bring to the turmoil of our daily lives is priceless.
I do not think it is good that WQXR published this; it is not in any way enlightening or worth knowing. In spite of all the online "social networking" our personal lives should remain personal and private if we so deem.

Jul. 10 2012 07:13 PM
Edward Lubin from Florida

These numbers may be public record, but they are none of my business. Having said that, musical artists and the executives who manage their productions aren't paid nearly enough in relation to their worth to our society.

Jul. 05 2012 09:01 PM

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