Vienna Philharmonic: confronting its past, living in the present

Posted on: March 3, 2014

On Thursday (2/27) NYC classical station WQXR broadcast a panel discussion, “Vienna Philharmonic: Facing its Nazi Past but Struggling with Diversity,” tied to recent events at the orchestra and to Carnegie Hall’s “Vienna: City of Dreams” cultural festival in March, which includes appearances by the Vienna Philharmonic. An article on QXR’s website accompanies a recording of the discussion. “Possibly no orchestra has prompted more hand-wringing and ambivalence than the Vienna Philharmonic. The 172-year-old orchestra is recognized the world over for a very specific sound that’s changed little over the decades, and a playing style that has been passed down from generation to generation. But critics charge that it’s just that exclusive philosophy that may explain why there are few women and virtually no minorities in its ranks.… At the same time, the Vienna Philharmonic has shown progress by acknowledging its complicity during the Nazi era. After a team of historians looked into its World War II-era activities, the orchestra in December quietly revoked awards it gave to six Nazi leaders.” Panelists, who also discuss the need for greater diversity at American orchestras, include James Oestreich of the New York Times, Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Joel Bell, chairman of the Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. 

Posted March 3, 2014