It’s a bit ironic. Players in symphony orchestras are near the top of their professions—they are among the handful of talented musicians who actually are able to make a living as performers. And no group we have studied has greater internal motivation than these people. Yet their overall job satisfaction, and especially their satisfaction with opportunities for continued growth and development, are not pushing the top of the scale. The professional symphony orchestra, it seems, does not provide as rich and rewarding an occupational setting for musicians as one would hope.
Robert Levine, principal violist with the Milwaukee Symphony, and his late father, Seymour, then a professor emeritus at Stanford, collaborated on the following essay. It provides some insights as to why symphony audiences often see dour looks on the faces of their orchestra’s musicians. This is a classic from the Harmony archive. Click here to read the article.