I see these two words misused constantly.
“Premiere” is a noun. Webster’s defines it as “a first performance or exhibition.” Premiere can also be a verb, but more on that in a sec.
“Premier” is an adjective! Webster’s: “first in position, rank or importance.”
Thus, you can have the premier conductor of Mahler giving the premiere of a newly discovered work by the composer.
Premiere is often, and apparently correctly, used as a verb, as in “the symphony orchestra premiered a new work by Michael Daugherty.” But premiere wasn’t always accepted as a verb. I had a professor in college, none other than Piero Weiss, an astounding language expert, who would not allow the use of premiere as a verb, and in fact practically blew a gasket when I did. To this day, I do not like to use premiere as a verb, and instead would write the sentence above as “the symphony orchestra gave the premiere of a new work by Michael Daugherty.” Then I’d say how much I hated it.
By the way, I also think that ensembles that play symphonies are best referred to as orchestras, or symphony orchestras, rather than symphonies. It’s more elegant, and it avoids confusing the reader. Philharmonic is also an adjective, but a lost cause. I refer to the Los Angeles Philharmonic or the Berlin Philharmonic with impunity, though technically both those groups should properly have the word “Orchestra” after Philharmonic. The Pacific Symphony Orchestra officially changed its name to the Pacific Symphony a few years ago, but wouldn’t have were I in on the meeting. The Pacific Symphony sounds to me like a piece that Michael Daugherty might write.
Note: Yes, premier can be a noun when you are referring to a prime minister, as in Premier Khrushchev.
You tell it like it is!
And I don’t necessarily mean the usage discussion, although I have to note that my local big city orchestra goes by San Francisco Symphony.
To quote my favorite radioman of all time: “You’re right, that’s wrong.”
Were you there when “Carl St. Clair” changed his name to “Carl St.Clair” or when the Orange County Performing Arts Center became the “Orange County Performing Artscenter?” (Just one more thing to thank the Segerstrom Family for is changing the name again).
As far as I know, Carl has never had a space between St. and Clair. I wonder how many editors I’ve had to tell over the years.
Yes, I was here in darkest OC for the “Artscenter” name change. We had some fun with it in the office.
This article came in handy tonight, owing to the first performance of Dolores Claiborne. 🙂
Glad to hear it!
And I continue to consult you on a regular basis, including today. You are my style guide!
(For my day job, by the way, the terms I have to look up annually are “choose” and “select.”)
Ha, thanks, Lisa. In turn, I enjoy all your advice for publicists. I wish they’d read it!
For some reason, I have a very hard time with “effect” and “affect.” I know it should be easy (one’s usually a verb, the other not), but I am perpetually thrown by it.
Feel free to link to my publicity basics page. 🙂
Here, everyone, are Lisa’s publicity basics. Some of you should read them more than others:
It often happens frequently that the effect you wish to have affects the more effective of those among your affectionates, especially those with particular affectations.
That clears it up!