Orchestras: Embarrassment of Riches

London has long boasted a cultural asset unique in the world: it sustains five symphony orchestras, and the least of them is jolly good. Nonetheless, the Royal Philharmonic has been sounding its death rattle for nearly a year. And now the Philharmonia, regarded by many as Britain's finest, has announced plans for a quiet suicide in September. The casualties, which were variously blamed on Beatlemania and the muddy sidewalks around Royal Festival Hall, at least produced one healthy change. For the first time ever, in somber conference with officials of Britain's Arts Council last week, each of the orchestras...

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