Mirga: Men now also suffer sex prejudice

Mirga: Men now also suffer sex prejudice


norman lebrecht

September 02, 2019

In a remarkable interview with the Spanish magazine Scherzo, the sought-after Birmingham conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla gives her view on serious topical issues.

For instance:

– ‘My brother, studying composition in Vilnius, says there are more and more boys and men suffering under gender discrimination. Let us be careful not to forget them while focussing on the goal of giving the appropriate opportunities to girls and women. And let us move towards the inner culture where gender issues will not decide on the questions of happiness.’

– ‘Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s music has already become central repertoire for me. I feel it is connected to a story, a culture and a mentality that, in a way, is closer to me than the German or the British. I mean, the Jewish history of Lithuania is very painful. And we also have in my country Russian and Polish influence, such as the Catholic religion. That sets us apart from Latvia, which is Protestant and more connected to German culture. In the music of Weinberg there are moments of great darkness, with those pedals on the underside, reminiscent of the winters in Lithuania. And then there are others completely luminous that seem to evoke to the month of June in my country, when everything is bathed in an idealistic light. But to recover Weinberg’s music I think is a task and a joy for a lifetime. It has so many incredibly wonderful scores, challenging, enriching, and full of a fascinating creativity. In addition, most are still unknown to me. It is such an immense a catalogue [26 symphonies and 7 operas, apart from concerts, ballets, cantatas and scores for cinema, theatre or circus]. I think we are on the threshold of a discovery similar to that of Bach in the nineteenth and Mahler in the twentieth. In fact, many Weinberg’s works (not all of them, of course) are very related to the catastrophes of the twentieth century and tells or reflects them. It is possible to learn a lot about that specific period of our history listening to his music. But you can also to find thoughts absolutely suitable for today.’

Read the full interview in Scherzo (in Spanish) here. She’s the cover story.


  • M2N2K says:

    That first part about not forgetting about men is a typical sentiment shared by women who have sons.

  • Mary says:

    1) “‘My brother … says there are more and more boys and men suffering under gender discrimination.”

    Welcome to our world, little brother, for the last 6,000 years.

    It’s about time men cleaned the laundry and have dinner ready when I get home from a long day of rehearsals.

    2) “Mieczyslaw Weinberg…I think we are on the threshold of a discovery”

    Not going to happen, not even with all of Mirga’s Deutsche Grammophone recordings. Weinberg’s music is forgettable easy-on-the ear music that flows harmlessly in the background.

  • Paul says:

    Wow! – she’s only just realised? Men have faced sexual discrimination, sexism and gender bias, since time began, but we just kind of get on with it.

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      Indeed. The only people who have been treated worse than men are women.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        They were on the beach at Dunkirk and Normandy were they? I obviously didn’t see them falling out of the sky over Europe in WW2 either. Should have gone to SpecSavers!!

        • Mr. Knowitall says:

          Women were not permitted (by men) to serve as combatants. They did serve where they were permitted (by men) in support roles.

          • Karl says:

            Women were not permitted by WOMEN to serve. That’s because more women vote than men and have since the 1960s. That means they have more political power than men. And it will continue to go more in favor of women, mainly because women live longer than men. In 2017, there were 165.92 million women in the United States, compared to 159.41 million men. By 2024, it is projected that there will be 173.9 million women and 167.08 million men in the U.S.

            A Rasmussen poll showed: “Most Women Oppose Having to Register for the Draft”

          • Mr. Knowitall says:

            Sue, and so I, was commenting on WWII. How much power do you think women had to influence US military decisions in the 1940s?

          • M2N2K says:

            Whoever made the decision, it was certainly meant to protect women rather than to restrict their rights.

          • Mr. Knowitall says:

            No, that was not the motivation. Just as maintaining racial segregation in the Armed Forces wasn’t meant to protect African-Americans. It was based on the perceived inability for women to serve in combat and on the perceived inability of women and men to coexist in difficult circumstances. Had there been no draft for women, but they had been allowed to serve in combat roles, that would have protected women from being forced to fight. But not allowing women to join in combat voluntarily took the choice from them.

          • M2N2K says:

            Bad analogy. Segregation certainly did not reduce the risk, but inaccessibility of combat roles definitely did.

          • Mr. Knowitall says:

            Sure, imperfect analogy. Point being that racial segregation was based on the perceived inability for African-Americans and whites to coexist in difficult circumstances, just as segregating women into support roles was based on the perceived inability for women to serve in combat and to coexist with men in difficult circumstances. Women were already protected from combat by not being drafted.

          • M2N2K says:

            We may disagree about what the primary motivation was, but the result – which was easy to predict and therefore could not possibly be unintended – was that this saved many thousands of women’s lives while hundreds of thousands of men were maimed or killed.

    • John Kelly says:

      Thanks for the link to your review. Based on that review I am going to order it and give it a listen. Nice to discover a composer new to me and much better than Mirga recording another set of say the Brahms Symphonies!

    • George Porter says:

      I don’t understand why at this time 17 people have down-voted your comment.

      • M2N2K says:

        It’s 19 now, but what is there to understand? Apparently they disagreed with the review, simple as that – it happens all the time.

  • almaviva says:

    Mirga’s nuanced view on gender issues is refreshingly welcome. As for her championing of Weinberg, I have serious reservations. Too much of his music is a hit and miss; take for instance his Symphony no 10, which is remarkable polyphonic structure – and then look at his trite and utterly forgettable Cello Concerto Op. 43.

    • Karl says:

      Isn’t it worth sifting through a lot of dirt to find some hidden gold? I think it is. I listen to unknown composers all the time and sometimes it’s crap, most of the time it’s mediocre, and once in a while it’s a hidden gem.

  • sorin says:

    her interpretation on DG was quite dull.