Finnish Symphony Orchestra: Past, Present and Future from a Leading Viewpoint, A Case Study

Publicerad 15.12.2007

Korhonen, Pirkko
Finnish Symphony Orchestra: Past, Present and Future from a Leading Viewpoint
Case Research of the Jyväskylä Sinfonia
Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä
ISBN 978-951-39-3023-3

This case research concentrates on the Finnish symphony orchestra from multi-scientific perspectives: historical, musicological and economical. The first two are quite often seen as viewpoints of research, but so far there has only been a small amount of discussion concerning the phenomena of combining cultural life and business. This study will raise the issue by focusing on one cultural institution. The aim is to deepen the understanding of symphony orchestras, its´ leading and the work of musicians. The study consists of three different sub-studies: one monograph and two articles. The monograph is a historical study of the orchestral institution, which gives a clear view of the eventful past of the Jyväskylä Sinfonia. It also finds some evidence to clear up a problem of the foundation of this subject organization.

The first article is based on the assumption of total quality (TQ): the belief that the total quality of a symphony orchestra can be divided into several measurable parts, for example managing, conducting, communication, interaction and motivation. By improving these parts, it is supposed that the total quality – also the quality of playing – will improve, because the quality of music itself is not measurable, this assumption gives one concrete possibility for orchestras to measure their product. For that reason, the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model was adapted to the needs of orchestra organizations to form a proper tool to estimate the quality of an orchestra. However, in this study, the quality of the subject organization was not evaluated, but only described.

The second article focuses on the ageing of orchestral musicians, which is already clearly seen nowadays in orchestras and which is increasing year by year. The goal of this article is to find solutions in solving the problems of the ageing musicians themselves as well as the changing organizations.

The method used was triangulation, especially methodological and data triangulation. The data was gathered from administrative personnel and from the conductor by qualitative half structured interviews and from the musicians by a quantitative questionnaire to increase the reliability of the research. Also some musician interviews and the use of a variety of data sources made the study even more reliable. After the analysis the main results were pointed out.

One of the most important results of this study as considered in its entirety is the increased understanding of the history of orchestras as a whole, as well as the obvious transformation of conducting and management of orchestras. Transformational leadership and empowerment are going to capture ground from transactional managing and from the high hierarchy of orchestras. On the grounds of this study, it seems evident that orchestral life follows the leadership trends in business and economical life. The transformation is slower than in those mentioned fields, but it is still obvious: it continues without interruption.

Keywords: orchestra, symphony orchestra, managing an orchestra, leadership in orchestra, ageing of musicians, quality evaluation EFQM, orchestral history, orchestral musicians, TQ, climate of an orchestra, interaction

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