14. July 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: News, Opera

Erik Ralske, a member of the New York Philharmonic’s French horn section, had an interesting choice: be promoted to the principal horn position at the Los Angeles Philharmonic or take that job at the Metropolitan Opera.

Both orchestras are excellent, and both pay quite well: around $135,000 as a rough minimum, which for the Met includes average rehearsal pay. But principals like Mr. Ralske, the stars of the ensemble, can usually negotiate numbers far higher.

As for differences, there are the obvious contrasts between Left Coast and Right Coast; between a dynamic young conductor in Los Angeles, Gustavo Dudamel, and an established podium sage at the Met, James Levine; between the symphonic repertory and the operatic one.

Mr. Ralske chose the Met.

In a telephone interview Mr. Ralske, who lives in Edgewater, N.J., said he had made the decision mainly for family reasons.

I thought perhaps we’d be told what the family reasons were in the article, but it’s never addressed. My guess would be that moving a family from east coast to west would be pretty darn difficult, especially if there are children involved. (Uprooting kids, especially if they have strong ties to friends and school, would be awfully tough.) But it does say the principal position in LA was a promotion, which implies he already plays there. Hmm. Oh well … none of my business, to be sure!

I’m going to guess that the schedule at the Met is fairly grueling, but having two principals surely helps. (What about all the second and third players? Do they work as hard or harder for less pay, I wonder?) Opera is my first love … that’s where I’d want to be, for sure!


  1. Oh, to be desired so.

  2. Heh … I think I like my life just fine; I’m not up for the pressure! 🙂