In this week’s Spectator, Telegraph critic Ivan Hewitt speaks up for big male beasts, ‘In defence of the tyrannical male maestro’. Sample quote:
One must salute the talent, energy and determination of these women, who’ve succeeded in what is still a male-dominated world. But I’m sceptical of the idea that the arrival of women will lead to a total transformation of the orchestra-conductor relationship. Audience expectations haven’t changed; they still want conductors to put their personal stamp on performances, and that can’t happen entirely through negotiation. Elias Canetti’s observations about the absolute power of a conductor in the moment of performance still hold true, even if it’s a woman on the podium. Because of that, the job will attract women who enjoy the exercise of that power, just as it attracts men who enjoy it. So sparks are bound to fly in rehearsal, as they always have done. To pretend that the banishing of the male maestro will turn orchestral rehearsals into bowers of sweetness and light, presided over by women conductors who are never competitive or domineering and are always models of quiet-voiced tactfulness, is just naive.
The article swiftly provoked a hysterical backlash on torpid ClassicFM, under the headline ‘A prominent critic has stood up for the fragile ‘tyrannical male maestro’. Here’s why he’s missing the point’.
Read it here.