‘Women conductors? It’s not getting any better, only worse’
March 31, 2014 by Norman Lebrecht
Jorma Panula has been the most successful spotter and trainer of conductors for the past 30 years. His pupils include Esa-Pekka Salonen and at least 20 others who hold international posts.
Panula, however, is 83 years old and a man of strong, old-world views. Over the weekend, he had an outburst against women conductors on Finnish TV. It translates as follows:
Q: Do you think it is good that women enter the profession and become conductors? JP: No! What the hell, we have men already. It is such a limited profession… They can try, but it is a completely different deal. I can’t comment on media or public opinion. But women… Of course they are trying! Some of them are making faces, sweating and fussing, but it is not getting any better – only worse! They can come [to my masterclasses] and try. It’s not a problem – if they choose the right pieces. If they take more feminine music. Bruckner or Stravinsky will not do, but Debussy is OK. This is a purely biological question.
Panula’s comments have provoked outrage in Finland. Salonen has tweeted (in Finnish): ‘Conducting is about skill, not biology. There is no reason why women cannot do it equally well or better.’
The row continues.
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