|The first edition of the first violin part for the Ninth Symphony.The full manuscript sold at Sotheby's in May 2003 for $3.43 million.|
The manuscript for the the Ninth symphony sold at Sotheby's in 2003 for $3.43 million. The work was described at auction as one of the most important musical works ever written, and one of the highest achievements of man, ranking alongside Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and "King Lear."
The symphony continues to be extremely influentual. The Economist.com noted that the standard capacity size of the CD was set so listeners could enjoy the entire 74-minute work without interruption.
Politicians have also used the work to further their ends, most famously Hitler. Despite this association, today the Ninth Symphony is the official anthem of the EU, a symbol of unified Europe.
Some worry that high fixed costs and dwindling audiences are killing the classical music industry.
A recent strike by San Francisco Symphony musicians--which last 18 days and ended April of this year--shows that at least some orchestras are doing OK. According to the Los Angeles Times, SF Symphony musicians were unhappy with their contracts because they were not benefiting from the financial success of the organization, and management was out to freeze their wages. The musicians union rejected several proposals including one that offered increases in compensation to achieve a new annual minimum salary of $145,979 with annual increases of 1% and 2%.