Vienna is slow to change its tune

Vienna is slow to change its tune

There are 23 comments on the Newsday story from Mar 1, 2007, titled Vienna is slow to change its tune. In it, Newsday reports that:

In the symphonic music world, the Vienna Philharmonic defines prestige. It performs annually at Carnegie Hall, its concerts are almost always sold out, its New Year's celebration in Vienna is broadcast around ...

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Joan Bonelli

Vienna, Austria

#22 Mar 7, 2007
Very good!
William Osborne

Chemnitz, Germany

#23 Mar 7, 2007
Women currently represent 62% of the instrumental classes at Vienna's University of Music and Performing Arts. See: "Frauenquoten an der Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst," Arbeitskreis für Gleichbehandlungsfragen“(Wien, June 2006) available on the web at:

In fact, for the last 20 years women have represented the majority of instrumental students. The Vienna Philharmonic will only be able to insure its future quality by accepting women as members.

As a case in point, the Philharmonic just hired a woman, Helene Kenyeri, for a second oboe position. The Wiener oboe is not played anywhere else in the world outside of Vienna. It characterizes the special sound of the orchestra more than almost any other instrument. Austria is a very small country, which greatly reduces the pool of candidates, especially for such a unique instrument. Without access to women players, the Vienna Philharmonic would not have been able to find a genuinely qualified new member to play the Wiener oboe. One of my colleagues just judged a competition for young oboe players in Vienna. Of the 17 candidates, only three were boys.

For the sake of its own future, it’s time for the Vienna Phil to leave the 19th century and skip over to the 21st.

William Osborne
John Borstlap

Eindhoven, Netherlands

#24 Mar 11, 2007
On the point of 'new repertoire' being (not) played by the VPO, it may be worthwhile to consider the performing culture which is the basis of this orchestra. The 'classical orchestra', i.e. the orchestra as imagined from Haydn and Mozart until and including Mahler and Strauss, is a differentiated but integrated musical instrument where textures are strongly interrelated. 20C modernism brought a fragmented sound ideal which, on a very fundamental level, went against this basic principle of integration. The VPO wants to preserve their best assets, and how could that be done better than focussing upon the repertoire that celebrates integration of sound? It is not the orchestra's fault that it has become a 'museum orchestra', but due to the developments of the surrounding culture. The strong contemporary need for this 'island' of a past ideal is demonstrated by the VPO's popularity and in this sense, it is a contemporary institution (there is nothing against a museum either!). Until contemporary composers begin to again explore the typical integrated orchestral sound, and the entire emotional, spiritual and aesthetic world it represents, it is unfair to expect 'new, stimulating cultural ideas' from a group that want to preserve a highly aesthetic performing ideal in a world in which composers have abandoned it.

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