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December 1998
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Unfinished Symphony

A managed care company president was given a ticket for a performance of Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony." Since he was unable to go, he passed the invitation to one of his managed care reviewers. The next morning,the president asked the reviewer how he had enjoyed it, and he was handed a memorandum, which read as follows:

MEMORANDUM

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. This seems unnecessary duplication, and the staff in this section should be drastically cut. If a large volume of sound is required, this could be obtained through use of an amplifier.

3. Much effort was involved 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 experienced musicians.

4. No useful purpose is served by repeating with horns the 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 twenty minutes.

5. This symphony has two movements. If Schubert did not 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, his symphony would probably have been finished by now.


This page was last updated December 1, 1998.

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December 1998
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