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Under Proper Management…

Franz Schubert

Looking through my files as I tried to decide what to post this week, I ran across something that I, as somewhat of a musical Philistine, found humorous. It's about Franz Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, as evaluated by someone whose greatest strengths are managerial rather than musical. It sheds a bit of light on how management looks at things differently from how others do.

Schubert's Unmanaged Symphony

A managed care company president was given a ticket for a performance of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. Since she was unable to go, she gave the ticket to one of her managed care reviewers. The next morning she asked him how he had enjoyed it. Instead of a few observations about the symphony in general, he handed her a formal 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, avoiding peaks of inactivity.

2. All 12 violins were playing identical notes. This seems an unneeded duplication, and the staff of this section should be cut. If a volume of sound is really required, this could be accomplished with the use of an amplifier.

3. Much effort was involved in playing the 16th notes. This appears to be an excessive refinement, and it is recommended that all notes be rounded up to the nearest 8th note. If this were done, it would be possible to use para- professionals 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 then the concert could be reduced from two hours to twenty minutes.

5. The symphony had two movements. If Mr. Schubert didn't achieve his musical goals by the end of the first movement, 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 Mr. Schubert given attention to these matters, he probably would have had time to finish the symphony. It was simply a case of mismanagement.


Do you have or have you had people like that in your life? 🙂


"Bill, there is a book out there...." — Ken Ham


"It's all very well in practice, but it will never work in theory." — French management saying

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4 Comments on “Under Proper Management…”

  1. #1 Jonathan
    on Feb 5th, 2014 at 7:34 am

    One of your best posts! I’m not sure it’s funny if you view employees as “Human Resources”, and not value them for their unique gifts.

    Rob adds:
    Thanks, Jonathan! I agree about what I call “humane resources.”

  2. #2 karen
    on Feb 5th, 2014 at 8:21 am

    This blog is truly funny! Am reading it this early morning and am chuckling to out-right laughing. My husband is a band teacher and he now is a business owner. He thinks this is hilarious with a tinge of accuracy to it. Thanks for posting.

    Rob adds:
    Thanks, Karen. I figured it would strike the funny bones of musicians. How funny that your husband does both!

  3. #3 Vikki
    on Feb 5th, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Great post! A good example of right brain vs. left 🙂

    Rob adds:
    Glad you enjoyed it, Vikki!

  4. #4 Carrie
    on Feb 6th, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    This tickled me too. Thanks for posting!