How many women in the Vienna Philharmonic?

How many women in the Vienna Philharmonic?


norman lebrecht

November 28, 2016

We have received an up-to the-minute list of female musicians who are permanent members of the Vienna State Opera orchestra, en route to becoming full members of the Vienna Philharmonic.

There are now 15, going on 16:

Albena Danailova – concertmaster
Isabelle Ballot, Olesya Kurylyak, Alina Pinchas, Ekaterina Frolova, Petra Kovacic – 1st violins
Patricia Koll, Adela Frasineanu – 2nd violins
Ursula Ruppe, Daniela Ivanova – viola
Ursula Wex – violoncello
Charlotte Balzereit-Zell, Anneleen Lenaerts – harp
Karin Bonelli – flute
Sophie Dartigalongue – bassoon

sophie dartin

And from 1 Sep 2017: Silvia Careddu (flute).

The old barrier is well and truly broken.


  • Christopher Slater-Walker says:

    About time too!

  • Talia Ilan says:

    They just cannot afford not having the best players

  • Max Grimm says:

    For detail sake, it should be noted that most of the women on that list are not “en route to becoming full members of the Vienna Philharmonic” but are in fact already full members of the Verein der Wiener Philharmoniker
    – Albena Danailova (full member since 2011)
    – Isabelle Ballot (full member since 2008)
    – Olesya Kurylyak (full member since 2011)
    – Alina Pinchas (full member since 2016)
    – Patricia Koll (full member since 2015)
    – Ursula Ruppe, née Plaichinger (full member since in 2007)
    – Daniela Ivanova (full member since in 2010)
    – Ursula Wex (full member since in 2012)
    – Charlotte Balzereit (full member since in 2004)
    – Anneleen Lenaerts (full member since in 2013)
    – Karin Bonelli (full member since in 2015)

  • V.Lind says:

    Great. Now could we move along to who cares as long as it is the best players you can possibly get?

  • FreddyNYC says:

    And don’t forget the token Asian player (in 1st violins) who also happens to be half German……

  • Niels Muus says:

    Dear Norman Lebrecht,
    Having followed your very informative blog for several years. I really think it is time to change the view that is often presented about Vienna and its music institutions.
    Having worked as a foreigner, Danish/American origin, over 20 years in Austria and being responsible for ensembles (Tiroler Landestheater, Volksoper Wien) at the and since 3 years as professor and music director for the Opera Masters Program at the Musik und Kunst Universität der Stadt Wien I have only experienced openness to all – no matter nationality, race or gender.
    Since this year my program a. o. has in collaboration with the Summer Academy of the Vienna Philharmonic been host to an annual project presenting a Mozart opera in order to preserve and renew the special viennese reception of this composers works.
    After auditions – open for students from al music universities in Austria- we together with our colleagues from the Vienna Philharmonic chose a a cast for the six roles in this years production: Cosi fan tutte. Following nationalities very represented: South Korea, Ukraine, China 2, Iceland, Austria. The orchestra also consisted of several nationalities. Only quality mattered, nothing else was discussed.
    My own class at the university, has students from China, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Iceland, Austria,Iran, Kasachstan etc. The fees are very moderate around 1000 Euro pr. semester for non EU students, the rest ( ca. 18.000 Euro pr student pr year) is financed by the Viennese tax payers.
    This means that young people from middle- and lower income families from not only Austria have a chance to fulfill their dreams in this wonderful city.
    A future crusade should be against the horrendous prices that we see in US universities and (sic) british music schools, that function as the real discrimination socially.
    This is where you should concentrate your efforts and lead a future crusade.
    On behalf of myself and my students I can only express my eternal gratitude to the taxpayers of Vienna, and my collaboration partners from the Vienna Philharmonic,Staatsoper Wien, and Theater an der Wien.
    Let this be an example for others.

    • John Borstlap says:

      A much-needed correction. The point is, that a culture can be chosen, absorbed, assimilated; so, even when Viennese music culture is rooted in the ‘blood’ of locals, since music is a transnational, transgender, transrace and transincome art, it can be shared – according to talent, not to background. However international Vienna has become, it has achieved to remain Vienna all the same.

      • Holly Golightly says:

        Let’s hope Germany can have that same luck!! The Viennese experience shows what happens when people are eager to become absorbed in the new culture and all it has to offer. A ringing endorsement for assimilation.

  • Brian says:

    It’s progress, but until the Vienna Phil mirrors Austrian demographics as a whole (roughly 50/50 men/women) the press shouldn’t give them a pass either. And I realize that change only happens as long as there are open positions in the orchestra, but it’s still crucial to see that these signs of progress continue.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Indeed. Now please, try naming even three orchestra whose members reflect the respective city’s/country’s “demographics as a whole”.

      • John Borstlap says:

        True….. the task of symphony orchestras is not to reflect preferred gender balance of the entire population. Maybe orchestras demonstrate the real state of affairs in society on that point – not because that is their preferrence, but because that is the logical outcome of the audition process if purely restricted to performance capabilities.

        • Brian says:

          Well, I’m not the first to say this, but if orchestras want to remain relevant to the world around them – and not a fading preoccupation for the moneyed elite – they need to look more like the communities they aim to serve.

  • Babarona says:

    I am sick of hearing about this. Has it improved the orchestra even one bit? Highly unlikely. Is it worse? Probably. The only relevant question is, are there any Jews in the orchestra?
    By the way, I just had to complete THREE “captchas” to leave my last comment. Get rid of it!

  • Marc Robineau says:

    I just listened to the Vienna Philharmoniker with Herbert Von Karajan and Antonin Dvorák’s New World Symphony # 9. Very professional orchestra and conductor. But overall the performance was low on feeling and emotion and somewhat cerebral. I couldn’t help noticing the all-male orchestral ensemble.
    I am a white French Canadian 68 year old male classical music enthusiast who has just visited Vienna and Salzburg (a sublime holiday). Have also skied Innsbruck, Kaprun, Saalbach, Seefeld. Austria is indeed a great contributor to world culture. Additional Female musicians are needed to support your country’s numerous magnificent assets. Cheers et bonjour.

  • Tante Anni says:

    The barrier is broken but women are still completely underrepsented. Much is to be done.