Exclusive: Vienna Philharmonic selects another woman

Exclusive: Vienna Philharmonic selects another woman


norman lebrecht

December 18, 2015

The times may be a-changing.

The first violin tutti audition this morning was won by Petra Kovacic, from Tolmin, Slovenia. All four candidates to make it to the final round were women.


Petra is the fifth woman to be admitted the Vienna Philharmonic since the start of this month.


  • william osborne says:

    There’s an misconception in your comment that is important. Some of the women won auditions for the Vienna State Opera, like Petra Kovacic. And some, like Karen Bonelli, were hired three years ago and just completed the three year tenure period in the State Opera Orchestra that allows them to enter the VPO. The latter were not newly hired members, they just completed a tenure period. (I would need to check to see how many were actually new hires in the VSOO in recent auditions.) In any case, the rate at which the VPO has been hiring women is very encouraging.

    On the less fortunate side, the VSOO/VPO has still not hired a single person who is fully Asian and has an Asian family name. The Chicago Symphony, by contrast, has 18 in just the violins and violas alone.

    • Bviolinistic says:

      At the last concert-master audition (where nobody was appointed) the final round with orchestra had three men and one woman. One of the men was a Japanese violinist named Kei Shirai. He played very well, but it was decided by the jury that nobody was of a high enough standard on that particular day. Perhaps it would help if more Asian people (with Asian family names) applied for positions..

      • william osborne says:

        Thanks for the interesting and helpful information. If word gets out that Asian membership is welcomed, the number of qualified Asian applicants will increase for open positions in the orchestra. After all, about a quarter to a third of the students at the VPO’s feeder school, Vienna’s University of Music, have been Asian for the last half century or so. A number of these students meet very competitive standards.

        • jaypee says:

          Anything new concerning the number of African Americans in the top five American orchestras since the last time I asked you?

          I thought so. When do you plan to start complaining about that?

          • Max Grimm says:

            Actually Jaypee, there has been change; since last you asked the above question, Anthony McGill became Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, bringing the number of African American musicians in the top five American orchestras to a grand total of 9!!! The reasons for this number are of course:
            – limited exposure to classical music
            – limited interest in classical music
            – a total of only 14 African Americans currently attending a music school in the United States.

          • william osborne says:

            Actually, I’ve been talking about the lack of Africian-Americans in US orchestras for years, as with this article published on ArtsJournal in 2006:


            The speciousness of your comment, however, is apparent. The VPO has a long and continuing history of excluding minorities, while for at least the last 40 years, no US orchestra has consciously excluded them. I think the VPO is changing, but especially with Asians musicians, the results remain to be seen.

    • JanHus says:

      yes, how about African-American and Lesbian musicians? Russian gay musicians? Uh? You’re taking VPO like the United Nations or what? You’re simply being annoying.

  • Anne Raynaud says:

    I was at Der Rosenkavalier in Vienna on Friday December 11. Apart from the sublime voices ( Harteros, particularly, and Stephanie Houtzeel one to look out for) and the superb acting ( Peter Rose’s Ochs NOT a buffoon) I was in the fourth row and I noted 7 (SEVEN) women in the orchestra.
    I know members of the Wiener have to spend 3 yrs in the opera pit before aspiring to the concert platform, but I found the presence of 7 women very significant.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I regulary go to the Staatsoper productions to count women in the orchestra (with a group of equally-interested friends, we bet on the results). It’s more exciting than listening to the music or watching the stage. We arm ourselves with field binoculars….. sometimes they are confiscated by the staff, but when hidden in the legs of our trousers they go unnoticed, although our gait is slightly impaired.

  • Nelson Armitano says:

    Imthink I liked it better when it was all men in this orchestra. At least then the main and only interest was the music they made, and not all this frivolity of “how many women, why not any Asian” .. Really, guys!

  • Anthony says:

    Well said , to a degree, Nelson Armitano. This is just another bullshit attempt by Lebrecht to try to discredit the VPO, an orchestra that he seems to have nothing but contempt for but is actually the worlds finest, along with Berlin of course. Im so sick of his attempts to grab headlines over reasonable and unbiased journalism!