The Vienna Philharmonic now plays with more women than men

The Vienna Philharmonic now plays with more women than men


norman lebrecht

September 30, 2020

The orchestra tonight released a thank-you video to their supporters.

Under Covid constraints they played Haydn with just three performers, two of them women: principal bassoon Sophie Dervaux, and flute players Karl-Heinz Schütz and Karin Bonelli

Now that’s a first.



  • Bruce says:

    This performance was delightful. Glad I clicked on the misleading headline to find out what on earth you were actually talking about.

  • This is not what I have seen during the last new year concert…

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Lovely playing.
    Brava, ladies!

    • Nick says:

      you did not like the flute? Why?

      • Greg Bottini says:

        Who says I didn’t like the other flute (there are two of them)? Did *I* say I didn’t like the other flute? Not that it’s any of your business, “Nick”, but I liked the other flute just fine. I just didn’t happen to mention him, that’s all.
        And what’s YOUR problem, anyway? Did you run out of dogs to kick today?
        Che balordo….

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The shallow obsession with gender and the baseball bats at the ready for non-compliance is growing ever more tiresome.

  • NN says:

    Despite the women counting approach thanks for sharing this video. They really play wonderful! Simply Vienna Phil.

  • caranome says:

    Totally deceiving headline worthy of typical PR hack. Almost like saying “VPO showcases all-women concert, first ever in its 159-year history”, only to find out it’s one female (insert instrument) player in a lunchtime bring-your-own-sandwich gig.

  • William Safford says:

    That’s beautiful. Thank you.

  • Thank you VPO. Doesn’t quite make up for the recent John Williams DVD with only three women performing in the full orchestra setting. Still, I know there are many who appreciate the gesture in this trio, inadvertent or not.

    • Matthias says:

      Actually, If you look closely, there were at least 7 women playing in the John Williams concerts (I was lucky enough to attend, but you can see it in the recording as well). 6 female violinists and one cellist – unfortunately there were none of the fabulous women from the woodwind section present. I know that‘s still not a big number, but they will get there over time.

      • I only see three. And just how much time? The orchestra agreed to admit women in 1997. During that 23 years well over half the orchestra has retired and been replaced.

        • Matthias says:

          Well if you don’t believe me, here’s a quick screenshot from Youtube: It‘s at least seven.
          They have a woman as concertmaster, they have blind auditions, the number of women in the orchestra is rising year after year…. cut them some slack.

          • Even at 7, it is less than a 7% representation of women in this DVD 23 years after the orchestra agreed to admit women. Let’s call it Vienna Phil Slack.

          • Matthias says:

            Taking this silly women-counting game to the extreme, it’s 9 women in the concert footage overall because there are 2 more female violinists at the back of the 1st violins (out of view in the screenshot). I’d say that number is just about average for a VPO performance (though I obviously don’t attend concerts to ascertain the gender composition). My main point was simply that your assertion that they played with only 3 female musicians was completely wrong. I think we can all agree that there’s enough fake news on the internet already, so please be more diligent when making such a claim!
            If you want to think that the VPO is still sexist you’re obviously free to do so. My sense of it is different, especially since the women in the orchestra seem to see it as a complete non-issue nowadays. I really believe that we’re going to continue to see more and more women enter the orchestra year after year.

        • Bviolinistic says:

          Like a (blind) dog with a bone..

  • MezzoLover says:

    What a beautiful gesture from the VPO! Brilliant music, brilliantly played.

    A few random thoughts from watching the video:

    – The Brahms-Saal of the Musikverein is the best chamber music hall in Vienna, with or without audience.

    – Karl-Heinz Schütz is, of course, one of the greats of his generation – but what a fabulous player Karin Bonelli is! I last saw/heard her live in Bruckner’s Symphony No. 1, under Christoph Eschenbach, at the The Große Musikvereinssaal in May 2018. Her playing (particularly in the outer movements) and the glorious “Bruckner sound” of the VPO in that fabled hall made that Saturday-afternoon concert an unforgettable event.

    – What a shame Silvia Careddu did not pass her trial to become a full member and had to leave the VPO in 2019. Otherwise this video could have featured an all-women ensemble – and THAT would have been a truly remarkable first!

  • Fernandel says:

    You gave me such a fright !

  • Maria says:

    What a farce and patronising. Sure it must have been lovely but get women in that orchestra in normal times not as an excuse or token gesture.

  • Nick says:

    Great playing REGARDLESS of whether they are men or women! What matters is THEIR TALENT AND MASTERY.

  • Karl says:

    Clever headline! I thought how can that be possible?