Despite rocky finances, symphony orchestras play on

It has been more than 20 years since Ernest Fleishman, former managing director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, proclaimed "the symphony orchestra is dead." While that forecasted demise hasn't come to pass, there have been struggles. According to a recent study by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, between 1987 and 2004, 46 of the 63 largest US orchestras ran deficits (on average). Declining attendance, rising costs, coupled with a hesitancy to take sufficient measures to cut them, are cited as possible reasons for the financial struggles. Through it all, however, many of these venerable cultural institutions march on. The oldest, with the dates of their founding:

- New York Philharmonic 1842

- St. Louis Symphony Orchestra 1880

- Boston Symphony Orchestra 1881

- Chicago Symphony Orchestra 1891

- Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra 1895

- Oregon Symphony 1896

- The Philadelphia Orchestra 1900

- Dallas Symphony Orchestra 1900

- Honolulu Symphony 1900

- Seattle Symphony 1903

- Minnesota Orchestra 1903

Associated Press/Monitor research library

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