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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
4:51 PM Fri, Oct. 19th

Barnes: My fellow symphony lovers

This one is for my friends who attend the Prescott and/or Phoenix symphony concerts.

A managed care company president was given a ticket for a performance of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. Since she was unable to attend, she passed the invitation to one of her managed care reviewers. The next morning the president asked him if he enjoyed it. Instead of a few plausible observations, she was handed a memorandum which read as follows:

1) For a considerable period the oboe players had nothing to do. Their number should be reduced, and their work spread over the whole orchestra, thus avoiding peaks of inactivity.

2) All twelve violins were playing identical notes. Their number should be reduced, and their work spread over the whole orchestra, thus avoiding peaks of inactivity.

3) Much effort was required in playing the sixteenth notes. This seems as excessive refinement, and it is recommended that all notes should be rounded up to the nearest eighth note. If this were done, it would be possible to use paraprofessionals instead of experienced musicians.

4) No useful purpose is served by repeating the passage that has already been handled by the strings with horns. If all such redundant passages were eliminated, the concert could be reduced from two hours to 20 minutes.

5) This symphony had two movements. If Schubert didn’t achieve his musical goals by the end of the first movement, then he should have stopped there. The second movement is unnecessary and should be cut.

In light of the above, one can only conclude that had Schubert given attention to these matters, he probably would have had time to finish his symphony.

My thanks to Michael Ingall, M.D., a choral singer and psychiatrist in Providence, R.I.