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American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century$
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John Spitzer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226769769

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226769776.001.0001

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American Orchestras and Their Unions in the Nineteenth Century

American Orchestras and Their Unions in the Nineteenth Century

(p.78) [1.3] American Orchestras and Their Unions in the Nineteenth Century
American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century
John Spitzer
University of Chicago Press

Musicians' unions played critical roles in American orchestras in the nineteenth century, when the American Federation of Musicians was organized and musicians' unions became part of the American Federation of Labor. The unions tended to resemble one another closely. Nineteenth-century American musicians' unions shared three central features: closed shop, price list, and leader system. The weaknesses of nineteenth-century American musicians' unions were structurally based. Their influence differed according to the type of orchestra. Musicians' unions probably served least well for concert orchestras, and particularly poorly for philharmonic societies and symphony orchestras. Among the three types of American orchestra—casual, seasonal, and concert—musicians' unions fostered the success and well-being of the first two types and of the musicians who played in them.

Keywords:   Federation of Musicians, Federation of Labor, American orchestras, closed shop, price list, leader system, concert orchestras, symphony orchestras

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