The next five most powerful women in Europe’s music

The next five most powerful women in Europe’s music


norman lebrecht

December 12, 2013

Coming in behind the first five, at number….


6 Ilona Schmiel

New-broom Intendantin at Zurich’s wealthy Tonhalle, with rising maestro Lionel Bringuier

ilona schmiel

7 Ruth Mackenzie

Incoming director of the Holland Festival, formerly head of London’s Cultural Olympics

8 Katharina and Eva Wagner

Clinging onto the composer’s wreckage at Bayreuth

katharina wagner

9 Kathryn McDowell

Managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra since 2005, hired Gergiev, now wooing Rattle…

10 Susanna Mälkki

Ex-music director at IRCAM Paris, queen of contemporary music



So who have we missed?


  • Hasbeen says:

    Your comment about the Wagner’s is inappropriate !

  • Alison says:

    I thought this was another article about K ….. oh never mind.

  • Quote: So who have we missed?

    Pamela Rosenberg, that’s who!

  • Lauren says:

    Thank you for providing news about the women in classical music. So often, classical music appears to many to be a male-elitist clique. I think the more we show the depth of the music itself and the people who make the sharing of it possible, the better chance the classical arts has to survive and thrive now and the the future.

    • DAVID WILDE says:

      “So often, classical music appears to many to be a male-elitist clique.”

      As in the days of Nadia Boulanger, Lili Boulanger, Ethel Smyth, Myra hess, Irene Sharrer, Beatrice Harrison, Amaryllis Fleming, Eileen Joyce, Ida Haendel, Ginette Neveu, Thea Musgrave, Old Auntie Tomasine Cobleigh and all: for goodness sakes stop grinding your axe and listen to the music.

  • drbarbarabaker says:

    Would you count Cecilia Bartoli as head of the Pfingsfestival?

  • Mary says:

    I think Anne-Sophie Mutter should be included!

  • Michaela says:

    Honorable mention at least to Helga Schmidt (Vienna, 1941), General Manager and Artistic Director of Spain’s Palau de Les Artes de la Reina Sofia in Valencia. Not easy to track down a bio on Ms. Schmidt. She came to Spain from London’s Royal Opera (1973 – 81) and also has been affiliated with London Symphony and Salzburg Festival. She’s collaborated with Von Karajan.

    Spain’s Palau de Les Artes is the mammoth new opera complex which is suffering a huge financial crisis. Ms. Schmidt was responsible for bringing in 1st rate opera talent and top conductors like Mehta and Maazel. Then Spain’s economic crisis hit.

    Ms. Schmidt, like a good captain, is staying on board her ship as it sinks. She’s apparently taken a 60% salary cut to help make ends meet.

    She’s been under fire by politicians and her staff but she remains in power and she is keeping the perilously destitute Palau afloat almost single-handedly right now. This is a strong woman with top credentials in the music profession who especially deserves recognition right now, IMHO.

    Here’s an article about Helga Schmidt in the glory days of the Palau, before the crisis hit:

  • rokalily says:

    And another … Cecilia Bartoli, the new driving force behind the Whitsun Festival, and Grammy nominee for her album Mission…

  • Spen says:

    Cecilia Bartoli is missed.

  • (Male) orchestral musician says:

    Simone Young is General Manager AND Chief Conductor in Hamburg….