Vienna Philharmonic: Daughter and father will play on New Year’s Day

As part of its media blitz to deflect accusations of embedded sexism, the Vienna Philharmonic has announced that a father and daughter will, for the first time, form part of its lineup at the New Year’s Day extravaganza.

The father is principal viola player Heinrich Koll, 63, a VPO member for 24 years.

His daughter, Patricia, 26, is a violinist.

What the publicists fail to mention is that Patricia is not a member of the Vienna Phil. She is asterisked on the membership list as one of those ‘members of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra who do not yet belong to the association of the Vienna Philharmonic’.

As ever with the Vienna Phil, it’s schein über sein, all show and no real change.

heinrich koll

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  • The linked article mentions that Ms. Koll is in her three year probation with the VPO:
    “Bei den Wiener Philharmonikern absolviert Patricia Koll derzeit ihre dreijährige Probephase.”

  • She joined the Staatsoper orchestra in Feb 2012 so will very soon be eligible for membership of the VPO. She is a sub-principal 2nd violinist. If she was rank and file she would appear at the bottom of the list of 2nds.

  • Miss Koll will be eligible for full VPO status next year. She is currently also an associate leader of the second violin group.

  • Norman, I think you mean 34 years when referring to her father’s career, not 24. He joined the Staatsoper orchestra in 1980

  • An amusing interview. Patricia says she had always dreamed of playing in the orchestra, but of course says nothing about the difficult struggle that started 19 years ago that allowed that to happen. Patricia was 7 years old when it started. As is so often the case, unpleasant history conveniently vanishes from memory like a popped soap bubble…

    One can also watch an interview with Patricia and Heinrich at the url below. At the very end, and almost cut off, one can hear the moderator conclude using the highly refined art of humorous, Viennese innuendo. Patricia speaks of the first Father-Daughter performance in the history of the New Years concerts. The announcer then says with glib irony that perhaps one day in the “distant future” there will be another such (father-daughter) debut. See:

    http://tvthek.orf.at/program/Wien-heute/70018/Wien-heute/9009171/Im-Einklang-Vater-und-Tochter-bei-den-Philharmonikern/9009179

  • So is that the condition for women to play with the Wiener Philharmoniker? Having family ties to previous members? This publicized case doesn’t seem very fair to me.

    • The Vienna Philharmonic has a 150 year-old tradition of father-son dynasties in the orchestra, which they feel has helped them to maintain their traditions. The father-daughter continuity is a welcomed expansion of this concept.

  • There has been a characteristic oldfashioned Viennese sport, now practically died-out, of chasing some ‘victim’ person or party who then receives all the negative projection from people in denial of their own negativity, so that they can feel better about themselves: ‘Hetze’. Irrational, unfair, unfounded, a Hetze is an ugly thing, and after the extermination of the Viennese Jews in WW II the popularity of Hetze has dramatically sunk. But it seems that it has been taken-up outside Austria nowadays, so that the VPO is now projected upon from abroad, thus offering moral absolution to its many critics.

    Let us be grateful for the VPO’s willingness to offer its critics their much-needed self-congratulation.

  • This is progress, it’s a good sign. Gender equality, even if it’s achieved via the VPO’s unique and steadfast traditions, is a step in the right direction. VPO is doing things their way, and as long as the result is more opportunities for young women, it’s fine with me.

    Alongside Patricia in this new “class” of young VPO hopefuls, now passing thru their probationary period at the State Opera, is the promising young flautist Karin Bonelli. Like
    Patricia, her name only appears with an asterix on the VPO roster. But it appears, and has for the past year, meaning that Karin is also now in her 2nd yr. of probation.

    Unlike VPO’s celebrated but nearly invisible female concertmaster, Bonelli is quite visible. She was seen in the televised New Year’s Concert last yr., she toured with the VPO, she can be seen in chamber music performances. A model of discretion, she looks to be blending in, doing her job, and keeping her head low. Wise choice to stay out of the media in her situation. I notice that they dress her in a suit quite similar to the men, so that with the exception of her long brown hair, she looks like most every other young recruit onstage.

    If Karin Bonelli succeeds during this probationary period, with just one year remaining, she will be the 1st female wind player in the history of the VPO. Wishing all the best for
    this quiet, determined young lady who, like Patricia (but without the advantage of the father connection) is changing tradition at the VPO. Let’s hope they both succeed!

    • “A model of discretion, she looks to be blending in, doing her job, and keeping her head low.”

      This is an additional example of how sexism is manifested in orchestras. While a young Austrian male flutist might even be expected to stand out and shine as a manifestation of the genius seed of his nation, women are to stay as silent and in the background as much as possible. And if the woman happened to be Asian, her ability to stay in the background would be almost impossible regardless of how “humbled” she behaved.

      The institutional psychologist, Richard Hackmann (Harvard) and the sociologist Julia Allmendinger (University of Munich) led a study of orchestras over many years in the 80s and 90s. They make an interesting observation about the intimidation of women in orchestras, and how institutions can seek a frictionless work atmosphere at the expense of creative growth:

      “It is no doubt true that, in male-dominated organizations, neither the organization nor its members are obtaining the benefits (such as personal learning and improved task performance) that compositional diversity [gender integration] can bring. Indeed, our qualitative data suggest that many women find that there are strong incentives for them to keep a low profile, to behave closely in accord with existing orchestral norms, and generally to be as non-intrusive as they can. This stance is costly to the orchestra because it protects majority members from exposure to unfamiliar perspectives and from the need to scrutinize and reconsider traditional behavioral norms.” [Allmendinger, J. & Hackman, J.R., “The More, the Better?,” unpublished working paper (Harvard Business School, January 1994) pg. 11. See also: “The More, the Better? A Four Nation Study of the Inclusion of Women in Symphony Orchestras,” Social Forces, December 1995, 74(2):423-460, University of North Carolina.]

      In the arts this might imply a tendency to achieve social harmony at the expense of creativity, a trade off for which orchestras and their patrons are known.

  • Norman,

    Just enjoyed your VIBRANT dissertation on youthful genius of Felix Mendelssohn on PBS … greatly appreciated!

    Richard Carlisle

  • Seems odd to me that with all this hype the picture that Sony seems to be using for the CD / DVD release shows no sign of father or daughter. Not sure when it was taken but certainly includes several players who are now retired or have moved on. Poor production values by Sony I think – I take all back if they use a picture from the actual concert on the finished product.

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