At the Vienna Philharmonic, change is slow for women musicians

Posted on: December 24, 2019

“Women were first hired into a major orchestra in 1913, when six female violinists joined the Queen’s Hall Orchestra in London,” writes Farah Nayeri in Monday’s (12/23) New York Times. “But in Vienna, female musicians were not officially offered auditions to the Philharmonic until more than eight decades later. Today, 15 of the Vienna Philharmonic’s 145 permanent members are women…. The Berlin Philharmonic first admitted a woman in 1982, a century after it was founded. [At] the Vienna Philharmonic … players are recruited from the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. And until 1997, the opera would not allow women to audition for the philharmonic…. Daniel Froschauer, chairman of the self-governing Vienna Philharmonic and one of its first violinists, said … the number of female musicians … ‘is ever-growing.’ … An August 2019 survey … showed that in Continental [European] orchestras, 36.6 percent of members were women. In … Britain, 44 percent…. Change does appear to be afoot in Austria. In September, Marin Alsop, an American, became the first female chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra…. ‘They are extraordinarily open to the idea of righting this wrong,’ she said.”