Thanks to Dick Strawser at Thoughts on a Train, we now have the answer to the world’s most important question:

If you haven’t yet seen them, this post listed them in German: interesting positioning of the American orchestras

1. Concertgebouw-Orkest, Amsterdam
2. Berliner Philharmoniker
3. Wiener Philharmoniker
4. London Symphony Orchestra
5. Chicago Symphony Orchestra
6. Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
7. Cleveland Orchestra
8. Los Angeles Philharmonic
9. Budapest Festival Orchestra
10. Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden
11. Boston Symphony Orchestra
12. New York Philharmonic
13. San Francisco Symphony
14. Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
15. Russian National Orchestra
16. Leningrad Phillharmonic
17. Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
18. Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
19. Saito Kinen Symphony Orchestra
20. Tschechische Philharmonie


  1. Very interesting – most of the US groups I’d have expected (not necessarily in that order, and I hadn’t thought of Boston, for some reason, and what about Philadelphia or St. Louis?), and I’m sure there are several lesser-known groups out there in the US (and Canada) that are deserving of consideration.

    Let’s see…too expensive to bring a bunch of orchestras to a single venue (can’t have the hall compromising the sound, and all)…it would have to be the judges/conductors (and TV crew etc.) traveling around, and then maybe the final three or four would be brought out to, say, L. A. for the finals. I think the initial version would have to be just North America (or possibly just the US to start with, depending on budget) – shouldn’t be a problem to get characters for the conducting side of things, but then they’d have to dig out the drama “backstage” and follow people, editing as they gauge the audience responses until they’ve created the caricatures that have proven to be beloved (i. e. generate the best ratings)…

    I really think it could work. I’m sure the pros reading this blog are scoffing at the idea that there might be any drama going on within an orchestra, or anything. Ooh, and it would be good to allow all kinds of orchestras to compete, including opera/ballet etc., within a given size range.

    And there would be the controversy engendered when some of the weaker players take a dive during the final shows so as to be replaced by local ringers, and when somehow the climate control got jiggered so it was too hot/too cold for one of the contests, and when the piano was deliberately “untuned” and…

    Ok, now I’m just obsessed, sheesh.

  2. …and where I meant to go with the post was to discuss the differences between European and North American styles/sounds, and if that can really be successfully taken into account when ranking groups…

  3. Oh wait, even better! A Spinal Tap-style mockumentary!! The’ve done what, rock bands, dog shows, folk groups…quick, someone call Rob Reiner!

  4. Tim, the mocumentary is a terrific idea.
    We can call it “This is Seattle Symphony”

  5. Just to be clear, the “we” above is Mr. Savant. I am not in any way affiliated with Seattle Symphony and can’t speak for what goes on there. 🙂

    As most readers here know, I try very hard not to speak negatively of anyone but myself. I do love self-mockery. It works well for me. 😉

  6. New York or Boston far above the Met? Have these folks even *been* to America?

  7. I’m just the reporter … don’t know where they’ve been. I just know they are the World’s Best Classical Music Magazine. Because they say so.

  8. Sure! Have “orchestra auditions”… But, they better be playing from behind a screen!

  9. Sorry – I was sort of continuing on from this thread:

    where I proposed the whole idea of Orchestra Idol…or maybe Orchestra of the Stars…or Orchestra!!11!! (the ones add veritas, don’t they?)

    Anyhow, I did include the idea of out-of-sight of the judges – unless…should it be like Iron Chef, where the presentation is part of the thing? How does that relate to a recording?

  10. Hmmm. I’m gonna let you figure this whole thing out, Tim. If my orchestra is involved, though, I want to have a makeup crew that can fix me up. Okay? Oh … and of course a reed crew.

    Wow. Wouldn’t THAT be wonderful?!