Managed Care Music Critic
The president of a large California managed care company was also board
chairman of his community's symphony orchestra. Unable to attend a concert,
he gave his tickets to the company's director of health care cost
containment. The next morning, the president asked his associate how he
enjoyed the performance, Instead of the expected usual polite remarks, the
director handed him the following memo:
To: Mr. Michael Holtz
From: Stanley Gogetter
Subject: Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony"; Performance of
The undersigned submits the following comments and recommendations
relative to the performance of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony by the
Civic Orchestra as observed under actual working conditions,
(A) The attendance of the orchestra conductor is unnecessary for public
performances. The orchestra has obviously practiced and has the
prior authorization from the conductor to play the symphony at a
predetermined level of quality Considerable money could be saved
by merely having the conductor critique the orchestra's
performance during a retrospective peer review meeting
(B) For considerable periods, the four oboe players had nothing to do.
Their numbers should be reduced and their work spread over the
whole orchestra thus eliminating peaks and valleys of activity.
If it is indeed at all necessary to have oboes, a break-thru team
should be established to see if their parts could be combined
with those of the clarinet players, who could simply switch
instruments as required, there-by cutting the reed instrument
requirements approximately by one-third.
(C) All 12 violins were playing identical motions. This is unnecessary
duplication the staff of this section should be drastically cut
with consequent savings If a large volume of sound is required,
this could be obtained through electronic amplification, which has
reached very high levels of reproductive quality. Or perhaps the
reduced number of violin players could pre-record their various
parts on tape and co-ordinate the playback(s) with the actual
performance. I doubt the audience would even notice.
(D) Much effort was expended playing 16th notes or semi-quavers. This
seems an excessive refinement as most of the listeners are unable
to distinguish such rapid playing. It is recommended that all
notes be rounded up to the nearest 8th. If this is done, it would
be possible to use para-professionals instead of experienced
musicians. This alone would save a great deal of overhead on the
(E) No useful purpose would appear to be served by repeating with horns
the same passage that has already been handled by the strings.
If all such redundant passages were eliminated, as determined by
the utilization review committee, the concert could have been
reduced from two hours to 20 minutes. Besides, having heard the
melody once, I fail to see what the audience gains by unnecessary
repetition. being able to reduce the house lights, and either
heating or air conditioning (depending on the season) would
greatly increase the profits on each ticket by ending the concert
forty minutes sooner.
(F) This symphony had two movements. If Schubert didn't achieve his
musical goals by the end of the first movement, then he should
have stopped there. The second movement is unnecessary and should
In light of the above, one can only conclude that had Schubert given
attention to these matters, he probably would have had the time to
finish his symphony.