Philharmonic clarification

From a readerTurns out that the empty branding of Alan Gilbert — as a New Yorker, when nothing much about him or the New York Philharmonic says “New York” — wasn’t the Philharmonic’s doing. It comes from their chief corporate sponsor, Credit Suisse.

I’m reminded of what can happen when, let’s say, a pop or classical star has her own publicist, but also works with record labels or performing institutions that have publicists of their own. The publicists don’t always agree on what should be done.

(And don’t get me started on the conductor whose parents used to call orchestras where he guest-conducted, complaining that the publicists weren’t doing enough for their son.)

(Wouldn’t a classical music gossip column be fun?)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. Robert Berger says

    Opera Chic, a blog on opera and classical music by a young American woman living in Milan ,
    might be called a classical music gossip column. It’s lots of fun .

    • says

      Yes, and it’s wonderful. I should have mentioned it! It’s almost exclusively about opera, but of course that’s where a lot of the best gossip is.

    • says

      Christina, when the Philharmonic played in Lewisohn Stadium, they didn’t have any marketing department. Or any corporate sponsors. Those things are comparatively recent — since the early ’70s. I’ve seen orchestra budgets from the late ’60s that had almost no expenses listed for marketing or fundraising. In the late ’60s, the big orchestras had a funding crisis, and — along with other nonprofits — evolved the present funding practices we’re all familiar with.

      Before 1966, the Met Opera didn’t even have an endowment!

      If the New York Philharmonic had a publicist in the Lewisohn Stadium days, that person would have been a very minor member of the staff, since classical music institutions didn’t do any great amount of PR. I imagine his/her job would have been to send very, very modest advertisements to the newspapers. I know that we’d call that marketing these days, but since they didn’t do marketing back then, and didn’t hit up the media for coverage, either, about all they went to the public with was advertisements.

      To give you some idea of what those ads were like, I vividly remember the Met Opera ads when I was growing up. They ran each day in the New York Times, might have been three inches high at most, and consisted of nothing but text — a listing of each opera performed that week, with — last names only — the cast and conductor. The Met (and also the Philharmonic) sold the vast bulk of their seats by subscription, and the ads, I’m sure, were meant simply as a courtesy to those who were buying single tickets. Whose presence they could count on, without doing marketing or publicity. The Phil, likewise, could (as far as I know) count on an audience at Lewisohn Stadium, without doing anything special to attract one. It was just something you did at night. I may be exaggerating this a little — I don’t remember details, and nobody writes historical studies of these things — but I don’t think I’m exaggerating by much.

      It was a different world, back then.

      • Christina Jensen says

        Greg, I was not referring to your earlier post. I was responding to this one where you mention above that Credit Suisse created these ads, and that confusion can arise when many publicists are involved. I am just saying it’s not likely publicists created these ads but rather another department.

        • says

          Sorry I misunderstood you, Christina. Of course you’re right — publicists didn’t create those ads. But I should have made it clear that I wasn’t concerned about New York Philharmonic or Credit Suisse publicists. I was thinking of the larger situation, in which two entities working with the same organization come up with different plans. I mentioned in-house and independent publicists as an example of how — in other situations — that can happen.