Schubert and Managed Care?

The following story has been floating around for some time. I don't know who wrote it, but it's reasonably self-explanatory:

The president of a managed care company was given a ticket for a performance which included Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. Since she was unable to go, she passed the invitation to one of her managed care reviewers. The next morning, she asked him how he had enjoyed the concert, and 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 24 violins were playing identical notes. This seems unnecessary duplication, and the staff of this section should be drastically cut. If a large volume of sound is really required, this could be obtained through the use of an amplifier.
  3. Much effort was involve in playing the 16th notes. This seems an excessive refinement, and it is recommended that all notes should be rounded up to the nearest 8th note. If this were done, it would be possible to use paraprofessionals instead of more expensively trained musicians.
  4. No useful purpose is served by the horns repeating a passage that has already been handled by the strings. If all such redundant passages were eliminated, the concert could be reduced from two hours to 45 minutes.
  5. Mr Schubert's symphony has two movements. If he 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. Also, in light of the points mentioned above, one can only conclude that had Mr. Schubert given attention to these matters, he probably would have had the time to finish his symphony.

Copyright © 1997 by Matthew B. Tepper

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