Our History

Dedicated orchestra musicians founded today´s unisono as DOV in the early 1950s. Here you’ll find a detailed overview of the key events from its launch until today.

  • 2010 to today

    2022 In October we changed our name to unisono Deutsche Musik- und Orchestervereinigung.

    2019 The DOV is able to bring many orchestras back to remuneration according the agreed thresholds. For freelance musicians, the DOV succeeds in getting them into additional pension provision.

    2017 The DOV launches a minimum fees campaign to ensure that freelance musicians and vocal soloists receive the money they deserve for their work. The aim is a lasting improvement to freelancers’ pay.

    2016 Also thanks to the DOV’s many years of effort, Germany’s federal and state governments decide to nominate Germany’s theatre and orchestra scene to UNESCO for recognition as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

    2015 The Deutsche Orchester-Stiftung (German Orchestra Foundation) becomes a legal entity on 1st January. The DOV initiates a nationally acclaimed artistic performance by 130 professional orchestra musicians from across Germany to make politicians and the general public aware of the dangers the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Treaty (TTIP) poses to the culture sector.  The event takes place in Mainz on 4th May under the slogan: We are not a commodity! In October, the union celebrates the 25th anniversary of the GDR orchestra association’s merger with the DOV into a Germany-wide interest group.

    2014 Together with the GEW German trade union for education and science, the DOV organises a Germany-wide lecturers’ campaign day on 6th November to highlight the precarious situation at musical higher education institutions. Widespread media coverage and talks with university rectors and politicians lead to the first successes and improvements. In December, the German Commission for UNESCO includes the nation’s orchestra and theatre scene in its nationwide List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

    2013 The DOV attracts nationwide interest with the Orchesterland (D) campaign. This initiative to preserve Germany’s globally unique orchestra scene begins on 30th September with a nationwide day of action from around 100 orchestras.

    2012 The DOV celebrates its 60th anniversary and gets involved in protests against the dismantling of more orchestras in former East Germany as well as North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg.

    2010 Orchestras in former East Germany reach full pay-grade equality between East and West 20 years after reunification, in line with the public sector.

  • 2000 to 2009

    2009 After further hard-fought labour negotiations, the new TVK labour agreement comes into force on 31st October. It includes more flexibility with regard to working conditions, new remuneration structures, and brings together numerous individual labour agreements. The decades-long link that orchestras have to public sector pay progression remains fundamentally secure.

    2008 Negotiations with the Deutscher Bühnenverein (German Stage Association) for a complete revision of the TVK and supplementary labour agreements have been on-going since 2004. In the autumn, these lead to 200 nationwide protests and token strikes against the feared decoupling of orchestras from the public sector. During November and December, premieres and evening performances are cancelled at 20 locations or can only take place with piano accompaniment. It is the largest wave of strikes so far in the DOV’s history.

    2007 The DOV establishes the netzwerk junge ohren (Young Ears Network) together with other musical associations and professional associations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, thereby setting new standards for contemporary musical outreach through orchestra.

    2005 The DOV launches the German Orchestra Foundation as a not-for-profit foundation trust.

    2004 The DOV relocates its headquarters from Hamburg to Berlin in January.

    2003 Germany’s President Johannes Rau pays tribute to the DOV’s work on behalf of orchestras and public broadcaster choirs in a public ceremony in Berlin’s Konzerthaus on 13th May to mark the 50th anniversary of the DOV and das Orchester magazine.

    2002 After the German union DAG is merged with four other trade unions to form the United Services Trade ver.di, the DOV agrees a cooperation accord with ver.di. The aim is to continue the DOV’s tried and tested collaboration with DAG.

  • 1990 to 1999

    1995/96 The DOV is successful in a lawsuit before the German Federal Labour Court against the German Stage Association for the unconditional acceptance of public sector pay increases for TVK orchestras.

    1995 The German Stage Association refuses to implement general public sector salary adjustments during on-going labour negotiations. Orchestras strike for a second time without endangering any performances.

    1994 East German public broadcasting and orchestras undergo serious structural changes which the DOV helps to resist legally and in a socially responsible manner as much as possible, after which former West Germany’s collective agreement regulation comes widely into force.

    1990 In March, orchestra musicians and public broadcaster choir singers in East Germany together form the GDR’s Orchestra Association based on the DOV model. The two organisations decide to merge even before reunification. The Germany-wide DOV exists from 1st October. It implements the first transfer of applicable collective agreement regulation and helps members in former East Germany during societal changes.

  • 1952 to 1989

    1988 After TVK orchestras’ holiday entitlement is suitably extended and expenses reimbursement is significantly adjusted, working time regulations are fundamentally reformed with the introduction of maximum weekly working limits, flexible compensatory time, credited travel time, and double shifts for overlong performances. Our members fight for this labour agreement settlement with their first nationwide token strikes.

    1971/72 The labour agreement reached with the German Theatre Association for musicians in professional orchestras known as TVK takes effect, replacing the old 1938 labour regulation for professional orchestras known as TO.K. This provides comprehensive protection of municipal orchestra musicians’ working conditions, with concrete rules for working hours and remuneration. It remains an international benchmark today. The orchestra board’s work is covered by the labour agreement and therefore legally binding.

    1957/59 The DOV adds audiotape agreements to the labour agreement regulation it has established with public broadcast institutions for public broadcaster orchestras and choirs. It thereby protects the existence of public broadcaster orchestras and choirs.

    1956 The DOV attains unlimited employment contracts for professional orchestra musicians, in contrast to artistic stage personnel’s contracts. In a hard-won accord with the German Stage Association it also achieves a binding link to regular public sector salary increases.

    1952 Professional musicians launch the DOV in Dusseldorf. Together, they represent their cultural and economic interests and support up-and-coming artistic talent.