‘In Russia, people openly tell me that women should not be conductors’

‘In Russia, people openly tell me that women should not be conductors’


norman lebrecht

January 18, 2016

Some thoughts from Lidiya Yankovskaya, a conductor who now lives in New York. Lydia was one of six residents of the  Institute for Women Conductors at the Dallas Opera.

Lidiya Yankovskaya


In Russia, the music education and general culture of music appreciation is fantastic. Since the fall of communism, many things have gotten better for women and other things not so much. In the 1980’s there were more female doctors, engineers, and scientists than men. There were many women in positions of leadership, which is not currently case. When I go to Russia now, people openly tell me that women should not be conductors. How men see women intellectually is one thing, but when it then comes to something physical, like conducting, that’s when you really start to see the sexism come out.

More here on SexiSoprano.



  • Alexander Walker says:

    It is certainly true that these attitudes remain in Russia. Interestingly my teacher Ilya Musin showed no such prejudices and taught many women who went on to have distinguished conducting careers – not just the British Sian Edwards, but also (from an earlier generation) Margaret Heifitz, Sabrie Bekirova and Tatiana Shupulina. They all had it pretty tough making there way, though.

  • Branimir says:

    Sexi Soprano – Lifestyle magazine for the modern singer?
    Wow. Sounds like totally proper place for discussions about sexism in musical world. Or in Russia. Whatever.

  • T. Manor says:

    There’s a place called the Institute for Women Conductors.
    It appears the Russian consensus has been affirmed.

    • Bruce says:

      “Lidiya Yankovskaya has recently been named an inaugural member of the Institute for Women Conductors at the Dallas Opera […] which aims to address the obstacles females may face in the beginning their careers as conductors.”

      Yep. Sounds like confirmation of that Russian consensus…

  • Bruce says:

    From the SexiSoprano article:

    “I read an article that used a great analogy: A woman comes into a job interview and says, ‘I have two kids and every morning I wake up at 5 am, make them lunch, and get them to school, and every evening I make them a healthy meal, read to them, and occasionally they get sick and I will need to tend to them.’ Immediately, the person hiring thinks this woman is going to be difficult. Then a man comes in and says, ‘I’m a marathon runner. Every morning I wake up at 5 am to run, and every evening I cook a really healthy meal and run some more. A few times a week I have physical therapy and I may need to take a little time off.’ And the interviewer thinks, Oh wow, this guy is dedicated!’ “

  • Anya says:

    Oh phew! We have a bunch of men commenting on what it is like to be a female conductor. I’m also assuming that you are Russian, no?

  • Victoria says:

    Veronika Dudarova (1916-2009) was a well-known conductor in USSR. Her years of activity were 1944-1989.
    Right now in Russia men of the claccic music world aren’t tolerant to women in such profession as conductor. Career as Dudarova had impossible to imagine in post -soviet Russia.