The dramatic cancellation of last night's Philadelphia Orchestra BBC Prom due to a fire was the first Promenade Concert to be lost for twenty-six years. In 1980 the circumstances of the cancellations were far more serious and damaging, and the story is worth retelling to underline how precarious is the livelihood of our wonderful performing musicians. A financial crisis that had simmered at the BBC for several years flared up in February 1980 when a large package of economies were proposed to save £130m ($235). The proposal involved disbanding five orchestras, including the BBC Scottish , in a move aimed at saving £500,000 ($900,000) a year, or eight per cent of the BBC's music expenditure . On May 16 1980 the Musician's Union voted to strike against the BBC, and two weeks later the musicians of the BBC Symphony , and all other BBC musicians, stopped work. The dispute was not just about job losses, the musicians suspected a hidden agenda of a move away from contract o
If this was a free event it would be a different matter. But £75 to sit on a bench....