LA Phil 2013-14: By the Numbers

LAPhil2013-14Much has already been written about the LA Phil’s new 2013-14 season, just announced yesterday at Walt Disney Concert Hall. (In my estimation, the most insightful summations come from Mr. CK Dexter Haven at All is Yar and Timothy Mangan at Classical Life.)

As orchestras around the country hemorrhage audiences, money, and relevance, a few–like the LA Phil, St. Louis, and San Francisco Symphony–are thriving. Why? It has to do with the idea that an orchestra cannot survive simply as a museum for great music of the past. It has to be a living, breathing organism that connects audiences to the music of now.

That has been the philosophy and tradition of the LA Phil since the Ernest Fleischmann days. It has been advanced by Esa-Pekka Salonen, institutionalized by Deborah Borda, and continued by Gustavo Dudamel.


So when the LA Phil announced its new season yesterday, I was curious to run the numbers. And while I’m no math whiz, my calculations, I think, show how the LA Phil is living up to its commitment to today’s music in some very exciting ways.

  • 13 commissions, 11 world premieres, 4 U.S. premieres, 3 West Coast premieres. This is a record amount of new music for the orchestra.
  • In 2013-14, the LA Phil will play music by six Baroque composers; three Classical-era composers; 15 Romantics; and 41 20th-21st century composers.
  • That’s 9% Baroque, 5% Classical, 23% Romantic, and 63% Modern
  • Of the 65 composers on their 2013-14 season, 26 are alive. That’s an astonishing 40%.
  • 129 total works on the 2013-14 season: 24 Baroque, 7 Classical, 49 Romantic, and 49 from the 20th-21st Century.
  • That’s 18% Baroque, 5% Classical, 38% Romantic, and 38% Modern
  • Remove the Tchaikovsky-Fest works and those stats change to 35 Romantic works comprising 27% of the repertoire.
  • Of the seven Classical-era works, five are by Mozart and one is by Haydn.
  • Of the Romantics: no Bizet, Borodin, Bruch, Elgar, Faure, Franck, Grieg, Lalo, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky, Rossini, Saint-Saëns, Smetana, Verdi, or Weber.
  • The LA Phil will be 95 years old, Walt Disney Concert Hall will be 10, and it will be Gustavo Dudamel’s 5th season as music director.



16 thoughts on “LA Phil 2013-14: By the Numbers

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  4. This is amazing. I had to pinch myself when I saw the numbers. I hope this is the beginning of a trend for more orchestras…

  5. The L.A. Philharmonic’s first 10 years in Disney Hall have been amazing. Someone should write a book about it.

  6. As an advocate and enthusiast for modern and contemporary music, I am in awe of the Phil’s commitment to today’s music, much like the Master Chorale.

    1. Tumultuous Love passage in 1:06 to 1:14 and the closnig was very nice. I enjoyed the unexpected chromatic and generally melodic changes in those passages, as well as the deep bass portions and epic coda. I just wanted to point that out. Your pieces have a nice general sense of pathos, which I think is always a necessary element to truly effective music. Though my ears would expect a bit more traditional or functional harmony at times, what you have here is certainly an excellent accomplishment, and I think you should certainly keep up the good work Project 9-2 is the ultimate example of what I mean when I speak of pathos in your music very moving. Nicely done, Josh. I can hardly wait to hear that presented by a human string section! I had to listen to it a couple of times.

  7. also, lest we forget…the LA Phil plays a full summer’s worth of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. The repertoire there is almost always standard “war-horse” fare and is played for thousands in an outdoor LA City park (a venue that costs the orchestra little or nothing to perform in). The Hollywood Bowl is LA’s cash cow – they can do whatever they want the rest of the season…

    1. And, lest we also forget, the Phil performs a series of wet ink on the page music under the Green Umbrella. Few orchestras have any comparable series.

  8. I’d be curious how your numbers compare to the NY PHil’s upcoming season, especially once they announce the full programming for their Biennial series of concerts. Despite the LA Phil’s record of contemporary programming they are a poor sounding orchestra these days. Older members and a lack of top-tier principal players makes it difficult to compare them in the same breath to some of the other orchestras you mention.

    1. @Phunktify: OK, I’ll bite . . . Not surprisingly, I totally disagree with your assessment, but hey, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That said, I’m flummoxed that anyone, even those who aren’t a fan of this orchestra, would call them “poor sounding these days,” some I’m hoping you can expand on your assertion . . . Poor sounding compared to what or whom exactly? Their own past? How long have you been listening to them? What other orchestras have you heard live?

      Also, which principal player is not “top-tier?” The violist who came from the Berlin Phil? The bass who played a year who was recruited by the Cleveland Orch but turned the job down to stay in LA? The bassoon from the Met or the trombone from Philly? Or maybe the home-grown clarinet who has been w/ the orchestra for over 50 years (which kinda makes her an “older player” too)? Maybe one of the many other principals I haven’t mentioned by name, all of whom I think are somewhere between truly excellent and world-class. . . .

      Which one isn’t up to your standards? Looking forward to the clarification.

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