Vienna Philharmonic: We’d like a woman to conduct New Year’s

December 27, 2017 by norman lebrecht


In the orchestra’s most egalitarian statement to date, new chairman Daniel Froschauer has told DPA: ‘Wir würden uns zudem freuen, wenn auch einmal eine Dame am Pult steht.’

Which translates as: ‘We’d also be happy if a lady once stood on the podium.’

The coming New Year’s Day concert will be conducted by Riccardo Muti.


Comments (160)

  1. Henrique Medeiros says:

    Who could be? Alsop, Young, Mälkki, Zhang?

    1. will says:

      Sian Edwards; Alondra de la Parra; Jessica Cottis; Sarah Ioannides?
      Only 3 of these 4 ladies get my vote!

      1. Arturo says:

        Alondra de Parra? Seriously?

        Wondering why no one’s mentioned Marin Alsop. Mirga is too young to be a flagship woman in this situation. Should be a more established, mature woman. Marin is one of the few out there unless they could lure Catherine Comet out of retirement.

      2. Bruce says:

        Wait, somebody mentioned de la Parra without posting that YouTube link. Is that allowed?

        1. Jaybuyer says:

          Made my day, Bruce!

      3. Mr. Schwa says:

        Ionnides is a complete amateur: no stick technique, weak leadership. The VPO would eat her alive. Young is an overrated hack who butchered ‘Hoffmann’ at the Met. How about not obsessing about using a woman, and getting the best person for the job??

        1. will says:

          Who is ‘Ionnides’ (sic)?
          I was referring to Sarah IOANNIDES who, I.M.V, has an excellent conducting technique..

          1. Mr. Schwa says:

            Ionnides is a rank amateur. I saw her rehearse a Sibelius symphony: half of the room played one tempo, the other half a different one. Couldn’t even bring them in with a clear prep beat. There are certain female conductors who think that a pseudo-glamor photo of themselves standing by the ocean with their hair blowing in the wind will give them charisma. To be fair, many male conductors have used Svengali-pix as well, part of the career if you can back it up. But you shouldn’t just stand there holding your white stick if you aren’t cut out for such a career. Ionnides should appear at the VPO, as a member of the audience.

    2. Stereo says:

      Not Alsop

    3. herrera says:

      Why one? Why not all of them?

      Is there a quota on Jewish conductors of the New Year’s concert?

      It’s like: We only have a single slot for a French conductor, it’s George Prêtre or no one else.

      1. Matt D says:

        Lorin Maazel conducted the New Year’s concert eleven times, more than anybody in the post-Boskovsky era. Barenboim twice. Jansons twice (1/2 Jewish by parentage, and fully by jewish law). Kleiber twice (I read his mother was Jewish, but I’m nore sure if she really was). So that’s at least three Jews and lots of performances.

      2. Nick says:

        Yeah, right, how about a Jewish conductor or a transgender, for example? Who cares how good they all are! Play the gender or race or ethnicity card, who cares> Quality matters not, not anymore, at the Left anyway! Appalling!

        BRAVO VIENNA for picking quality above all! Muti is a great choice! Thielemann is also a great choice!

        1. Bill says:

          Careful, some of us are best described as on the left but hardly willing to give up quality! I don’t see any reason why musical talent should be the exclusive province of men; why would I want to arbitrarily eliminate a big group from consideration, when my goal is to hear and play with the best?

          1. Bill says:

            Uh, Nick, I didn’t bring it up – I am simply pointing out that the absence of an insistence on white European males is not the same as not caring about quality (your strong implication). If someone conducts, composes, or plays well, I am unconcerned with their gender identification and preferred sexual partner(s) so long as those interests would be accepted regardless of profession. I believe this framework allows me to be unhappy about the allegations against Levine without having to condemn gay conductors as a class, for example, and furthermore, I believe it does not require me to enjoy someone’s work simply because they are female, or gay, or whatever.

        2. Cynthia says:

          Nick, you are making a classic strawman argument.

          What’s appalling, Nick, if you care about quality, is that the quality of numerous women musicians have been shut out. That’s appalling. Linking inclusion of talented women with some “politically correct” agenda that’s trying to force through an “agenda” irrespective of quality is the strawman argument. Absolutely NO ONE is doing that.

          Have you been appalled that talented women have been shut out? Have you been a champion of your favorite women conductors? It is sheer hypocrisy to be appalled that talented women are finally getting some opportunities and not to have been appalled when we were shut out irrespective of quality.

          “Conductrice” is rude, demeaning, misogynistic, and clearly exposes that your straw man argument is solidly in the service of maintaining the all male status quo.

          As for the VPO NYE concert being “the most prestigious engagement of the year…” I think you have a very inflated view of pops concerts and perhaps wouldn’t know quality if it hit you in the nose.

          I’m sure it was a delightful event for people who like that sort of thing.

    4. Olassus says:

      Young of course.

    5. Anonymous says:

      Art is above gender. I would hope that serious artists on this site would know that. It’s not about men or women directing a reading of a work; it’s supposed to be about art. ART. I hope that they select the conductor solely on merit. Go home, everyone.

      1. RS says:

        Going back to early in this thread, where ‘Anonymous’ said ‘Art is above gender’ . . . the whole point is that it’s not! Art is a social construct, a creation of human beings, and all their (our) preoccupations play a part. So it stands to reason that Classical Music (or ‘Art’, if you prefer) would be affected by gender power-plays — which have, for males, for centuries, been concerned with marginalising women. ‘Art’, in particular its reception, is NOT gender-neutral!

  2. Pedro says:

    Mirga, I bet!

    1. Zarmo says:

      Mirga of course !!

      1. RW2013 says:

        Nav mans tasi tējas…

          1. RW2013 says:

            tas pats

      2. Hilary says:

        A rather deft/balletic -albeit too light-weight -Eroica at the Proms a few years back. She would be a good choice.

  3. Alice says:

    These people are neanderthals. With everything happening right now, how is it still acceptable for this orchestra to have such a low percentage of women and virtually no female conductors? It’s disgraceful. In the orchestra I play in, we get many female conductors each season and they are just as high quality as the men.

    1. Andrew Barnard says:

      Again, confusing parity and equality. This gets old. Who do you think is prepared to take the concert?

    2. John Borstlap says:

      There we go again….

      1. Alice says:

        No surprise that it’s 3 men offended by my comment. Wouldn’t want to shatter the fragile male ego by implying Vienna phil is falling far behind modern times

        1. Martain Smith says:

          Like to name your Maestri?
          No sure about your band – but the Vienna Phil. is the VIELLA PHIL, dear!

          1. Alice says:

            So they’re too good for women…? Seems you fit right in with your antiquated views.

            Just because it’s a good orchestra doesn’t give them the right to be bigots. Where are the women?? Look at the rest of Europe/USA, women are winning positions everyday. Why is Vienna stuck in the olden times?

          2. Alice says:

            Your need to call me “dear” solidifies my view of you as a crotchety old white dude whose angry and scared of the ever growing empowerment of women around the world

        2. Derek says:

          I am an old white guy! I hope you don’t think we are all the same stereotype that you have in mind.
          I don’t assess someone’s ability based on their gender.

          1. Alice says:

            Of course I don’t!! All the men in my life are respectful, non sexist, open minded and feminists. Unfortunately, as soon as take a step outside that bubble, I’m met with bafoons like these guys here

      2. Matt D says:

        Osborne incognito, don’t you think?

    3. Mark Henriksen says:

      What level orchestra is that?

      1. Alice says:

        One of the biggest and oldest orchestras in Europe. Don’t condescend, as if a orchestra in which women conduct couldn’t possibly be of a passable standard.

        1. RW2013 says:

          Still waiting for YOUR suggestions, dear.

          1. Harpsi says:

            Would you call a man with whom you disagree, “Dear?”

          2. Alice says:

            Exactly what I’m saying, harpsi!

            There are plenty of good suggestions here. My vote would be for Mälkki, I’ve loved working with her in the past. Wish some of the men on this site would try not to fit that old white guy stereotype so well. It must be exhausting walking around with that ego all day. Maybe if I’d signed my comments “Andy” instead of “Alice” I could’ve gotten a little more respect from these Neanderthals.

    4. Una says:

      Yes a pile of males on this blog. And anything I would attempt to say on here would be qualified and shouted down with ‘Oh, well she’d say that anyhow!’ or ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ You’ve already shown total disrespect to Alice on here and any woman who speaks and who seems to cause you offence. And you all think you’re all experts in your armchairs, throwing out words from your mouth to people you don’t even know. And then you are there lining up women conductors as if they were race horses. No wonder women don’t want to join in because you get shouted down by this ‘boys club’ and it’s verging on the abusive.

      1. Alice says:

        +1 amazingly said, Una!

      2. John Borstlap says:

        I phoned my Italian cousin who lives in Turin, to ask Marina Minestrone, the current conductrice of the Torino Mandoline Ensemble, how she got her job and what she thinks of the VPO. She claimed that while conducting has been a male invention, like music notation, the book press, the vacuum cleaner, the atomic bomb and the internet, there always was a strong woman behind it and that the inventor of the mandoline lost interest in the result and that’s why the females got their hands on it. Her own husband finds the thing ‘mere woman’s twitter’ and that’s why she fears a female take-over in Vienna which would mean the loss of interest of the males. Also she thinks it’s the walzes which erode male commitment, taking their thoughts off the notes and fantasise about long robes. But I don’t really know how reliable my cousin is in forwarding information, it’s Italy after all.


      3. Cynthia says:

        I agree with Una and support Alice. I’m afraid that some of the white men on this blog are indeed, knuckle dragging neanderthals. “I just want the best person for the job…” when women have been shut out!!! Amazing. And “it’s the Vienna Phil” as if that orchestra isn’t bested by nearly all of the top orchestras on the planet that don’t shut out female talent in the orchestra (the podium is a different matter). I’d take Cleveland and Concertgebouw over Vienna any day. As well as the Met and Berlin… And so many others, often depending on who is conducting.

    5. Mr. Schwa says:

      Name your orchestra, or for all we know, it’s the Culpepper Community Symphonette in White Trash Ville, Alabama.

      1. Alice says:

        Why do you insist I name my orchestra? Have you even read my post? My orchestra is in EUROPE, not the USA. It’s a highly sought after job in which hundreds of people come each year to audition. But this is no doubt because I’m a women disagreeing with you and all the other bigoted men here that you insist on focusing on small details, rather than the large ones. What orchestra do you play in? Maybe according to you, only people in “big 5”’ type orchestras are allowed opinions. Ahem, excuse me, only MEN in these orchestras are allowed opinions.

        1. Saxon Broken says:

          Sigh…you are being as sexist as the men you criticise. While some men may not want women to conduct or appear in orchestras, most men do not feel this way. My view is that sooner-or-later women will appear in greater numbers in the Vienna Philharmonic and it won’t be long before the audience stops noticing whether it is a man or a woman conducting. And this seems to be what the new chairman is encouraging.

          Genuinely curious: which female conductors do you think would be good suggestions to conduct the New Year concerts? And why would you suggest these names?

      2. Cynthia says:

        Mr. Schwa, why don’t you name your workplace, as you’ve been badgering Alice. I take it your “name” is a pseudonym and that you likely work in vocal music… What makes you so qualified to be so nasty to and about women musicians? Or are you an armchair musician who never has to put it on the line?

        As for it being about “art” and the “best person for the job,” why yes, of course. But do delve into the issues that bring about the pipeline of conductors. Those issues are often quite separate from talent and training. Sadly.

        Screened auditions have broken down misogynistic attitudes that kept fabulous women musicians from getting jobs in orchestras. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent for conductors. The lack of visibility of women in top positions discourages smaller orchestras from hiring talented women… a vicious circle.

        Kudos to Vienna for wanting to change the perceptions by spotlighting a talented woman on their famous pops concert. I was an apprentice for the Cincinnati Pops, perhaps they should consider me? Though I prefer John Williams Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, etc., over the Trisch Trasch Polka…

        1. Mr. Schwa says:

          Poor Alice! How does one survive being badgered on social media? At least she has you to fly to her rescue! I am tired of social-media crybabies, both male and female. If you and Alice can’t take opinions that differ from yours, then you certainly couldn’t deal with actual real-life pressures such as surviving in the professional world of music. I have worked at the Met, the Bastille, in Germany, Spain and Austria. But that is not important. What is important is that you can’t accept or consider any opinions other than your own due to your close-minded, angry feminism. Thousands of excellent, talented, qualified women have worked for decades in great orchestras, have conducted, etc. In many cases they were better than some of their male colleagues. And in many cases, qualified men have lost out to lesser talents for a variety of reasons. The world is not a fair place. That is unfortunately not going to change. One must persevere. When/if a man or a woman is shafted/cheated/screwed by the games/politics, he/she has to suck it up and push on/forward. Or, if one so desires, he/she can quit. That’s just how it is. I don’t like it either. But you won’t solve anything by whining. Find a constructive way to make things better. The VPO doesn’t ‘need’ a female conductor: they need first-rate conductors of both genders.

          1. Cynthia says:

            Finally, you’ve said something respectful of women and true of the profession. And you’ve brought up issues in a way that can be discussed. For example, Alice and I are social media crybabies, but for some reason you’re not? You’re the one complaining about Vienna wanting a talented woman for this particular gig.

            Yes, the world isn’t fair and one must persevere. Alice seems to play a non traditional instrument, perhaps brass or percussion – that IS persevering (talk to female percussionists and brass players, if you don’t know what they deal with)! I had a nasty accident in an orchestra pit some years ago that destroyed my playing career for some time, though I was able to continue conducting. I always wanted both, and as a woman, being able to play an instrument at a professional level is very helpful to prove one’s worthiness. I persevered. It’s likely, Mr. Schwa, that most professional women musicians have sucked it up and moved on, just as you have.

            The world isn’t fair. But it is more than a little cheeky to complain about visibility on a freaking pops concert after years of being deliberately shut out. I don’t care if it’s Vienna Phil’s pops concert, it’s a pops concert.

          2. Derek says:

            Mr. SCHWA,

            Much of what you say here is valid.

            However, the point that was made earlier was that the VPO is out of date in its approach to the employment of women, compared to other orchestras. This goes beyond the normal realms of fairness!

            Currently the VPO Website lists 134 associated members of the orchestra and 12 (TWELVE) of them are women!
            Does that strike you as legitimate or likely based on ABILITY?.

            I suggest, To paraphrase – “Something stinks in the state of Vienna”

          3. Derek says:

            Make allowances for my paraphrased quote. I had a read-through of Hamlet recently and the “Something rotten in the state of Denmark” line came to mind when on-line and in a moment of weakness……

            Back down to earth and in summary –

            The VPO is a world class orchestra.

            It is a fact that not many women are in the orchestra at present but the VPO is changing and including more women.

            It takes time to bring about significant change in the orchestra membership. The orchestra cannot replace staff ad hoc. It is evolution not revolution.

            Finally, to quote your comment “Find a constructive way to make things better”. I think that is what is being asked for in the end. It doesn’t mean preferential treatment but it does mean an equal chance.

    6. Matt D says:

      I suspect that “Alice” is just another of William Osborne’s false identities…

      1. Alice says:

        Lol I’m not. I’m a real, genuine woman. Hard to believe, I guess…

    7. Matt D says:

      I would love to see a woman conduct the VPO New Year’s Concert. But before that can happen, a woman must simply conduct the VPO! If Herr Froschauer is serious, and no doubt he is, he must work to make sure this happens very soon. Relatively few women are conductors, and the pool of those worthy of conducting the great orchestras is correspondingly small. Then it would take several years to develop the relationship to the point where she would be invited to conduct the New Year’s Concert. My favorites of those mentioned are Mälkki and Gražinytė. Both are wonderful musicians with the added benefit of physical beauty. This seems happily common among female conductors: Ioannides and de la Parra are stunning!

      Now before accusing me of sexism for that comment, male conductors also benefit from looks, espcially with the New Year’s Concert! While a tired cliché for some, this is no doubt an elegant affair. Virtually every man that has conducted it, while perhaps not classically handsome, has a certain air about him. The only only exceptions have been Barenboim, who could pass as a Tel Aviv bus driver, and Jansons, who could pass as a retired ice hockey player. I mean both as compliments, by the way.

  4. Martin Furber says:

    Xian Zhang, One of the most exciting conductors on the planet – regardless of gender. Everyone, even the VPO, should disregard gender. Failing Zhang, Jessica Cottis is very special.

    1. M2N2K says:

      When making a statement such as this, you should specify which planet you are talking about.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        There is a planet around the star Aldabaran, where aliens live without gender. But they don’t have music.

      2. RW2013 says:

        I think that the planet being to referred to is Earth, since there are also comments here about Neanderthals.

    2. will says:

      Martin, Glad you like Jessica! A few years ago ( maybe 10?) I had the very good fortune to take part in a masterclass with her and I ‘knew’ immediately that she was a major talent and that she would definitely be ‘going places’.

    3. Todd says:

      I saw Falletta and Zhang in Phoenix AZ when they were auditioning for a new Music Director…both were stunning, yet they signed up boring Michael Christie.

      I agree that Kleiber and Karajan’s concerts were both exceptional. Muti’s 1993 was also amazing. Does the orchestra need more boring performances by Austrian Welser-Most?

      1. Cynthia says:

        Falletta is a master of the long line. Her concerts are amazing, I’ve heard her with major American orchestras. Real gravitas. I’m not sure that’s a recommendation for a pops concert, but what she brings to the table is worthy with any orchestra.

      2. Derek says:


        It seems that everyone rates Kleiber’s concert highly and rightly so.

        What you and Cynthia have said about Falletta sounds good. I haven’t had an opportunity to see her and there does not seem to be much video of her in concert which is a pity! Strange that so little recording of her work is available.

  5. Renate69475620 says:

    Who are the women who have already conducted the orchestra at the opera or in concert ? I’d say they have more of a chance. The VPO never invites before having already tried usually

    1. JohanC1963 says:

      Simone Young, Speranza Scappucci KeriLyn Wilson and Julia Jones have lead the orchestra at the Opera

      1. Mr. Schwa says:

        Maybe the best solution is for Muti to wear a dress and a wig for the concert, because not one of the females named here is good enough. Not because they are women: but because they should not be hired for the concert simply because some people want a woman to conduct. The names proposed aren’t worthy of kissing Kleiber’s shoes.

        1. Saxon Broken says:

          Doesn’t Simone Young have a reasonably solid reputation?

          1. RW2013 says:

            As what?

  6. Petros Linardos says:

    How about hiring a conductor steeped in the Austrian tradition? Many of the usual suspects , jet-setting males or females, don’t meet that criterion.

    1. Ravi Narasimhan says:

      Andre Rieu perhaps?

      1. RW2013 says:

        you mean like this?
        (also not the hardest four bars to conduct from memory)

      2. RW2013 says:

        Not woman enough.

      3. Petros Linardos says:

        What made you think of Rieu? What is his connection?

        1. Ravi Narasimhan says:

          He’s undeniably steeped in waltzes. (It was not a serious suggestion)

  7. Pedro says:

    Don’t forget to include Frülingsstimmen sung by Jonas Kaufmann.

    1. Bruce says:



  8. Heinz von Beanz says:

    Whatever happened to “Anal Eck von Krapp-Hamburger” or whoever, who was perpetually commenting in threads like these? The one with the pretentious farcebook page?

    1. norman lebrecht says:

      The commenter was banned for persistent abuse.

      1. Una says:

        Thank God for that! A few more should go and make this an intelligent conversation!

        1. Steve P says:


          1. Thomasina says:

            But I saw that Mr. Lebrecht banned at least 2(3?) commenters during Christmas holiday. Perhaps they drank too much…


    Imagine had he said ‘Wir würden uns zudem freuen, wenn auch einmal eine Afroamerikaner am Pult steht.’ Would it generate a similar discussion? Enough of this, already.

    1. John Borstlap says:

      No doubt, in the future there will be a black lesbian pope pronouncing the ‘urbi et orbi’ from the Vatican balcony to appease the POC crowds, and the re-installation of the inquisition to make sure that finally, the perfect society will prevail.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        It’.s my cat…. ‘PC crowds’.

        1. Cynthia says:

          Yes, because POC means “people of color” and that would be racist, and helps support John’s point… Of course, “PC crowds” doesn’t sound very kind, given that it is a liberation movement to bring about equality so that talented POC, women, LGBTQI, etc., can make our contributions.

          PS. I wish I had a full year’s salary for each awful male conductor I’ve had to play for… That would be justice.

          1. Bill says:

            Would you be appreciably happier playing for an awful female conductor? Solidarity is great, but will you make them better? If so, why don’t you do us all a favor and do the same for the men

          2. Mr. Schwa says:

            The LGBTQ crowd has been contributing for many, many years. Should we start listing the gay men who have had conducting careers? Listing those who conduct opera regularly? It’s a gay business, basically. So you shouldn’t add them to your angry feminist chip-on-your-shoulder rant. Some of the women you and others mention are not necessarily held back because of their gender; many are simply not making the great leap to the next and higher/highest level simply because they aren’t that caliber, as many men also aren’t. So go easy on your Affirmative Action Woman Conductor rant.

          3. Matt D says:

            BTQI etc, etc? More and more absurd letters added everyday. Yes, we must make sure that room is made for every sexuality-based developmental defect under the sun. Other defects, not so much. In the meantime I want to see a crossdresser on the podium.

          4. Cynthia says:

            Dear Mr. Schwa,

            I included gay men in the LGBTQI bit because it seemed rude to leave them out, however, the rest are barely represented. As for ranting, the rudeness and mockery in your discourse is simply ugly, misogynistic and completely disconnected from the real life of women artists. It’s your discourse that qualifies as a rant. A hateful, contempt-filled, rant.

            Affirmative action!!! In my state, Colorado, in the last 10 years, no women have been auditioned in this state for a music director position with professional or youth orchestras, and few for community orchestras (there have been a lot of openings with no women guest conductors). So you get on this bandwagon of women not being good enough, or “ready” etc., when the opportunity is so limited. Everyone knows that to learn how to conduct, you have to conduct… Pops and educational concerts are typical venues for gaining experience, and pops is what is on offer here.

          5. Cynthia says:

            Bill, all of the women I’ve played for have been competent and musical. You have to have something to be in the biz against all the animus (on parade here).

            Matt, so bigoted. It’s a shame really.

          6. Alice says:

            Very well said, Cynthia. Couldn’t agree more. Don’t know why being inclusive and speaking respectfully about different groups of people is so offensive to some…

  10. Bruce says:

    There are good and bad male and female conductors. So far, there have been plenty of famous male conductors who don’t deserve the career they had/ are having (everybody has their own list; probably every conductor is on somebody’s list, except Sawallisch).

    But somehow, no matter how terrible a male conductor is, nobody accuses management of hiring him just because he’s a man, or because of his looks — usually — or complains about him taking work away from someone more qualified.

    Just something I’ve noticed.

    1. Ravi Narasimhan says:

      There are a few male conductors who incite a lot anger here and the accusations of looks over talent fly frequently.

      I think you’re right though that women performers and conductors have it a lot worse.

      1. Bruce says:

        I’ve seen it, but only a little bit. Male conductors and soloists mostly get criticized for their flash-over-substance style of performing, and sometimes their hair, but not for flaunting their prettiness. Charlie Siem and David Garrett are the only males I can think of offhand who are accused of trading on their looks. (Nobody seems to be for or against Lang Lang because of his looks…)

        Conductors, I dunno… Nagano maybe, when he was younger?

  11. Guest says:

    Oh god, can you imagine: the most boring New Year’s Concert of all time with Marin Alsop (leading the Vienna Philharmonic solely because she’s a woman and not because her abilities merit it).

    1. Bruce says:

      Right, because the Vienna Phil would totally hire a female conductor without caring if she’s any good.

      1. Bill says:

        I think they would hire a conductor whose presence they felt would bring them economic or PR advantage. They play concerts with Dudamel, right? Is that because they think he is the best available?

        1. Bruce says:

          I think they must hire him because of his amazing breasts.

    2. Mr. Schwa says:

      Amen to that!! I think a simian should be given a chance; perhaps a gorilla or a monkey. This would be great PR for classical music. Give it a name like Fritz Affe von Schmuckenberg and the Austrian public will buy it. Or kill two birds with one stone by hiring a female ape…..

      1. Alice says:

        So you’re comparing women to apes and monkeys now…and I thought the men on this forum couldn’t sink any lower

        1. Bruce says:

          LOL. Oh Alice, you’re the best.

  12. ANON says:

    If Vienna Philharmonic wants to remain a local boy band, let them be… Just cut all the EU and Austrian government fundings. I’m sure they are well established enough to fund themselves, and then they can do whatever they like. Problem solved.

    And please state clearly in their recruitment notices that they only hire men, preferably Viennese, and that they only hire male conductors, because that’s the way they like it. The current charade of pretending to give women opportunities while turning them down with the undisprovable excuse that they don’t have enough “merit” is revolting.

    1. IngridBachmann21 says:

      The VPO has hired many women in th last years and the fact that they state they’d like a woman on the podium for their most “traditional” concert is a proof that times have changed. One of their concertmasters is a woman and many first parts in the wind section are please let’s stop the pre conceived attack on them. They are a wonderful orchestra full of new generation wonderful players and human beings .

      1. ANON says:

        “they’d like a woman on the podium for their most “traditional” concert is a proof that times have changed”

        You may feel that way, but many people (as evidenced by this comment section) feel that is merely a PC gesture. The fact remains that since it was forced to start to employ female musicians 20 years ago, the percentage of women admitted into the orchestra remains abnormally low. I don’t see why female musicians should waste their time auditioning for this orchestra. They have better chances elsewhere.

        What is so bad about getting rid of government funding in order to retain their identity, anyway? I for one would love to see band consisting solely of Viennese men, conducted by men. Think of that as a selling point. Pure local Viennese culture! That would be so much better than the current charade that nobody is happy about.

      2. Bruce says:

        Some people will refuse to be satisfied. In their view, if a woman conductor is hired anywhere, the reason can never be because she’s good — or rather, because the people hiring her think she’s good. Oh no. It can only be because of political correctness, or [possibly] to sell tickets.

        They’ll say “show me a female conductor who’s actually good, and I will respect her without regard to gender,” but somehow nobody ever seems to pass that test… :-\

        1. Alice says:

          Most likely because of your own sexism and prejudice that is so deeply ingrained inside of you, you probably don’t even realize it.

          1. Bruce says:

            Um… okay

          2. M2N2K says:

            To “alice”: it would be helpful to your cause if you stopped attacking those who – in spite of their masculine-sounding monikers – can actually, believe it or not, be your best allies.

          3. Ravi Narasimhan says:

            Ready. Fire. Aim.

          4. Alice says:

            No attacking here, just calling out truths. I know the men in this forum don’t get much push back, so I understand why you see it as an “attack.” I’m so tired as a young woman of classical music being a boys club. Things are finally starting to change and some people don’t know how to handle it

          5. Derek says:


            Please read some of these comments again. They are supporting your view with irony or humour.

            Also, some of those who argue against the appointment of women are doing so on the basis that they think it is not relevant or that they consider other factors to be more significant or of higher priority on THIS topic.

            I don’t believe that SO MANY of the contributors are sexist!

          6. Alice says:

            Aha. I have a hard time discerning sarcasm/irony on the internet. I stand corrected.

          7. Bruce says:

            I think it’s called Poe’s Law: no matter how obvious and over-the-top you make your internet comment, someone will think you’re being serious.

            Ah yes:

          8. Derek says:


            In my previous reply to you I suggested that you had misunderstood some of the comments and that not SO MANY contributors are sexist.

            Since then I have seen more comments and have returned to say that there is evident prejudice and hostility from some.

            I trust that you and others like Una and Cynthia will continue to comment on topics that interest each of you. It is good to have fresh and interesting thoughts.

            I discovered this site some months ago and found many of the comments informative and entertaining. I hope that continues and the forum remains a place for a friendly exchange of views even when people disagree.

          9. Alice says:

            Derek, that’s very easy for you to say as a man. All I ask is for people to try and understand the women’s perspective in the classical music world. I play a largely male dominated instrument and have had many struggles, a lot of sexism and a lot of missed opportunities because I’m a woman. That is why I feel passionately about this topic, I have a lot more riding on it than you and your male friends. Try and see that.

          10. Alice says:

            (That comment is for the men reading this as you clearly get where I’m coming from)

  13. Vaquero357 says:

    JoAnn Falletta. Incredible Bruckner 4th with the Des Moines Symphony last season.

    Of course, she’d need to work up to the New Year’s Concert with some regular VPO subscriptions first.

    1. RW2013 says:

      I’m sure Herr Froschauer is scouring his calendar for dates as we type.

    2. Mr. Schwa says:

      Sure… from Des Moines to Vienna!! Now that’s a realistic career scenario. Here’s a radical idea: how about the most qualified conductor, not necessarily a woman.

  14. Steve P says:

    If they simply must have a female lead the orchestra to scratch a PC itch, how about just select a celebrity conductor? PatKop, Yuja, Lola…all fine musicians who could stand in front of the VPO and cavort in a reasonable fascimile of conduction.

    1. RW2013 says:

      Don’t underestimate the work involved in memorising all the repeats and da capos in those endless unknown waltz sequences.
      Would need at least a two hour flight before…

  15. Andrew Barnard says:

    To all of you upset at the Vienna Phil,

    I think the issue here is that you are misdirecting your complaints. Institutions like the Vienna Phil (or the Berlin Phil) only hire the very best in the field, both conductors and players. By the time someone is auditioned or being asked to conduct, they are already internationally famous and have substantial credentials. They don’t hire people because “he/she seems like a really nice person and we want to give him/her a chance”. The fact remains that when asked to list the female conductors qualified, none of you can give a substantial list. (Imagine trying to make a list of men qualified to take the concert!)

    It’s not the Vienna Phil’s job to ensure that there are qualified women in the field! They work with what is already there. They are not an institution to recruit and train those with less experience. If there are not enough women currently operating at this level, effort needs to be given to training them.

    Conducting these orchestras is a very daunting assignment. I was listening yesterday to members of the Berlin Phil discuss their relationship with conductors on the documentary “Trip to Asia” (interestingly, one of the players was female). It’s brutal; if a conductor doesn’t show a high level of skill and confidence in interpretive direction, they won’t be asked back. Debuts scare the best conductors. Simon Rattle waited until he was well until his thirties to “risk it”, he says, and he had no small international name.

    So why would we want to push women to conduct these orchestras prematurely? If they aren’t up to the highest standards, the orchestras won’t want them back. This will hurt them, naturally. There’s nothing sexist about this, it’s just reality.

    If women find the grueling standards exacted by these orchestras to be distasteful, why not work with one of these other orchestras that is more flexible? If they truly don’t appreciate the culture, maybe that’s why they’re not getting more jobs with the orchestra? (Although that’s not entirely true, because anyone paying close attention will see that there are indeed a rising number of females in both Berlin and Vienna. Cheers for Sophie Dartigalongue!)

    Bottom line: if there are highly qualified women being turned down by these orchestras (either as conductors or players), they will have enough of an international reputation that we should be able to actually name them. Is there just one woman who auditioned for Berlin and Vienna, was clearly the best applicant, and wasn’t hired? Just one? Please? And if not, it’s a matter of critiquing the institutions that train these people. Are music schools discriminatory?

    It may be a problem, but the Vienna Phil isn’t the one to fix it.

    1. Derek says:

      In my opinion, Susanna Malkki, Xian Zhang or Simone Young would all do a great job with the New Year’s Concert.

      Your comments are realistic. As you say, the top orchestras want to work with only the very top individuals. There are not a large number of women with the experience and what you refer to as “substantial credentials” so far, though this will change.

      I would add that your comments on reputation, the high levels of skill in interpretation and standards rule out the large majority of male candidates as well.
      It takes time and a great deal of experience to reach the level that is required (although I feel that these orchestras have too high opinion of themselves for their own good).

  16. Nick2 says:

    Xian Zhang’s name was thrown into the hat in the first post above, I have not yet seen her conduct and only know of her by reputation. But if she were engaged I’ll bet the already high annual revenues from this concert would soar with a huge Chinese audience.

    1. RW2013 says:

      So it is only about the money for you?

      1. Nick2 says:

        That’s a hugely simplistic and basically silly comment! I was making one point – the same as others here are making different points. You cannot deny that a Chinese conductor directing this most famous of concerts would be bound to lead to a much larger TV audience base.

        1. RW2013 says:

          Your chinese conductrix for chinese revenue.
          The VPO’s laugh is on you.

          1. Nick2 says:

            I did not propose her!

  17. Pianofortissimo says:

    Given the high level of the Vienna Phil and the usual repertoire of the new year’s concert, it probably does not matter who is conducting. They could hire my favorite female conductor, Susanna Mälkki, but they could hire Melania Trump as well, with the same (musical) result.

    1. Arturo says:

      Totally agree with Pianofortissimo. We are not talking about the next big interpretation of a Bruckner Symphony here.

      The VPO New Year’s event is a Pops Concert. It’s frothy fare which the musicians could probably play blindfolded. Conducting this event is more an honorary position than a musical one. They want a big name who will sell tickets. Someone who can effectively cavort onstage with a TV audience watching is also desireable, I’m sure.

      But Pianofortissimo is spot on. Musically it doesn’t matter much who’s on the podium.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        Old Viennese joke:

        One player to another on entering the Musikverein for a rehearsel: “What is he doing this morning?”
        “I don’t know, but WE are doing Brahms 2.”

    2. Vaquero357 says:

      COMPLETELY AGREE! I’ve said for years that the conductor on New Year’s Day is just there for show – tradition, basically. The VPO is gonna play that music the way the VPO plays it, regardless of who’s waving the stick.

      Here’s an easy test: compare the performances of The Blue Danube and the Radetzky March from different years. They sound exactly the same. Seriously. I’ve been listening to/watching the concerts every year since 1984, and whether the conductor’s Maazel, Muti, Pretre, Jansons, etc., the Blue Danube performance never varies. OK, maybe the two Kleiber performances are just a smidge looser, more fluid, more relaxed…..

    3. Herr Doktor says:

      PF and Vaquero, I generally agree with your comments. BUT there is another exception besides Carlos Kleiber–and it’s none other than Karajan. His 1987 New Year’s Day concert is considered by many to be one of the best of these concerts, and some argue it is the best. There IS a very clear distinction in the VPO’s performance that day and what you hear in most other concerts. How it is that Karajan elicited such an extraordinary performance? It’s impossible to explain except that likely the very definition of genius. By accounts of both Karajan and some of the orchestra members I’ve read over the years, something magical happened that day. And it’s hard not to notice.

      1. Pedro says:

        Indeed. I attended the Karajan and the first Kleiber concerts and Karajan was the better one ( Kleiber himself would agree ). I was specially impressed and moved by the two Josef Strauss waltzes ( Delirien and Sphärenklange ). It was music of the highest quality with the highest performing standards. Kleiber was very good too ( Die Libelle!) but Karajan’s was more profound while keeping the lightness of the music. This was certainly also due to the quality and tradition of the orchestra. The BPO of that time could not play this music so well.

        1. Vaquero357 says:

          Yes, Kleiber worshipped Karajan, so no doubt he would’ve agreed that Karajan’s New Year’s Concert was better!

          I will say that when I typed my earlier message, I almost said, “Kleiber and Karajan,” so I agree the 1987 concert was special, even though HvK was already in pretty bad health. But it was still a shock when he passed barely 2.5 years later….

  18. Pedro says:

    IMHO, Haitink and Blomstedt should be invited before any of the ladies mentioned in this post. After them, Mälkki, Mirga and Young.

    1. Vaquero357 says:

      Not sure Haitink or Blomstedt are really suited to that repertoire, though see my other comment re: the conductor of the New Year’s Concert is pretty much for show.

      I’d like to see Manfred Honeck. He’s an Austrian native, played viola in the State Opera Orchestra/Vienna Phil for about 11 years, and based on the similar concerts he and the Pittsburgh Symphony do the weekend after Thanksgiving – HE should be doing a New Year’s Concert.

    2. Mr. Schwa says:

      Haitink is too boring. Not enough grasp of the style, not enough Schwung, slancio… the fact is, the VPO doesn’t need a conductor for this concert; they could play it without anyone on the podium.

      1. Jaybuyer says:

        Didn’t Willi Boskovsky (VPO chief konzertmeister) conduct it for donkey’s years? Wasn’t it only after his retirement that ‘star’ guests were invited? (Or is my memory failing?)

    3. Guest says:

      Vanska, Nelsons, Salonen, Tilson Thomas, Spano, Slatkin, Honeck, or De Waart should be asked before any woman is even considered. Can you imagine Alsop being asked before anyone in that list based on merit alone?

      1. Pedro says:

        Thielemann, Gatti and Yannick have already a close relationship with the VPO and lead three orchestras of the same league

  19. Rob says:

    I nominate Jane Glover !

  20. Rob says:

    And John Williams (film composer).

  21. Vaquero357 says:

    To be fair….while quite a few excellent and talented women conductors have been named in this thread, let’s be honest: IF they were men, NONE of them shbe considered ready to lead the Vienna Phil.

    Some day *some* of them will be.

    1. Arturo says:

      That’s right. VPO is pushing fast & hard to become politically correct. Pushing a female conductor onto the podium if she’s not sure to be a good fit could be too fast.

      I follow the wind section, where within an amazingly short time frame they’ve tenured the 1st female wind player in their history (flutist Karin Bonelli) and are now dovetailing that with 2 more female winds – both Principals – bassoonist Sophie Dartigalongue & flutist Silvia Careddu – who are now on track for tenure.

      The guy Careddu is replacing was one of the most outspoken advocates of a no-woman VPO. He came out in the press and explained why there should be no women. He took an early retirement and is now being replaced by a woman! That’s the world turning on its axis in a remarkably short time.

      The changes happening within the orch. to allow women are substantial. To thrust a woman onto the podium just to be politically correct right now in addition to that, is unethical. I agree with Vaquero – if the women conductors being mentioned here were men, they wouldn’t be considered. Leave it at that. Let some time pass, let the right women come forward.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        There are heated discussions going-on in London’s men’s clubs about how to rename their species – ‘Men’s and Women’s Cliubs’? Or just ‘Clubs’? But then, where is the distinction which is the core identity of the institution? The Diogenes Men’s Club has already been taken-over entirely by women who insisted to keep the term ‘men’s’ in the name, to stress their victory, but now they face charges of gender discrimination…. like the Torino Mandoline Orchestra who reverted from female to male and back to female again in an effort to escape discrimination charges, but to no avail. And so on.

  22. Mr. Schwa says:

    How about Arthur Fiedler?? He brings the prestige of the Boston Pops, and he has proven that he can conduct even when inebriated. And his name sounds Austrian, so all the Viennese snobs will adore him.

    1. M2N2K says:

      That is not going to happen because VPO has always been discriminating shamelessly against dead conductors.

      1. Ruben Greenberg says:

        dead men or dead women?

        1. M2N2K says:

          When it comes to dead musicians, VPO are strictly equal opportunity offenders.

  23. Saxon Broken says:

    It is only fairly recently that the VPO has employed major conductors for the New Year concert. During the first 40 years of these concerts the had Clemens Krauss and Willi Boskovsky.

    1. will says:

      Hmmm…. therefore Clemens Krauss wasn’t a ‘major conductor’ are you saying?

      1. Mr. Schwa says:

        Krauss was very good, but he did not really embrace his feminine side; therefore, he was eliminated from consideration.

  24. Mr. Schwa says:

    How about TWO conductors on the podium at the same time??!! Each would be in charge of one half of the orchestra. The rehearsals and the performance would be quite interesting. One would be a man, the other a woman. That way, the troglodytes AND the angry feminists would be happy. Thoughts??……

    1. Robert Tonuy says:

      What about Sarah Caldwell??

      And she had great personality and comportment too! Is she still available? I think she’s in a home up near Braintree?

    2. John Borstlap says:

      Stereo conducting has already been tried-out long ago in Ives’ Fourth Symphony, but it appeared to be quite hard to synchronize the two, which needed a third conductor but that happened to be much too expensive. In gender terms, ideal would be a male and a female conductor, both being conducted by a transgender one. Best repertoire: Stockhausen’s Gruppen.

  25. #desperateforbellini says:

    Can anyone find me the March1956 bootleg recording of Norma from La Scala featuring Torrini and Tucker? I can’t find it anywhere.

  26. #desperateforbellini says:

    Does anyone know if Mr.Tape in NJ is still in business?

  27. Em says:

    Who to conduct? Well Nathalie STUTZMANN of course!! Simon Rattle says of her “Nathalie is the real thing. So much love, intensity and sheer technique. We need more conductors like her”.

  28. Cynthia says:

    Fortunately, the anti-woman crowd are dinosaurs who will be extinct in the upcoming generation.

    The earnest “quality first regardless of gender” crowd are simply clueless about how women of quality are shut out of the opportunities to grow. Your first Bruckner Symphony is probably not going to measure up to Barenboim’s 200th performance. For your consideration:
    1. Star conductors I know did their major works with less famous orchestras in preparation for their debuts with major orchestras.
    2. Most professional orchestras, even mid-level ones, get their conductors from a handful of artist management companies. Typically there is only 1 woman for every 50+ men. So opportunities to “grow our repertoire” is heavily rationed. And the deciders are bean counters.
    3. Conducting major orchestras is different than regional, that’s why young conductors so often train by being assistants doing educational and pops concerts – note how few women are even assistants with major orchestras.
    4. All of this supports perceptions that keep talented women out of the circuit, down to local community, youth, semi-pro, and pro orchestras.
    5. Is VPO’s approach the “right one.” I believe that it’s going to take some mindful effort at the top levels to help smash the perceptions, and now there are some fine women who’ve managed to work through the above.
    So if you are earnest, then a bit more sensitivity is in order.

    As for the knuckle-dragging neanderthals making the rude comments, I find the discourse unbelievably pretentious, intellectually dishonest, and the root is probably some sort of personal inadequacy. Ultimately, it is a great art that requires rigorous integrity, passion, and Mr. Schwa’s persistence.

    Happy New Year. May it be a year of beauty, honesty, and more empathy with our fellow travelers.

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