Alex Ross, Works by Women and the NYPhil

That the New York Philharmonic has a poor history of including women composers in their season offerings isn’t news, at least not to Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy or those of you who have been following our work.  Data from repertoire reports (which I wrote about here and here) from the past 10 years or so have shown that the NYPhil has a particularly terrible record of performing works by women composers.  Data from the 2000-01 to the 2008-09 seasons counts a grand total of 7 works by women composers performed.  They were:

  • In 2005-06: Concerto for Horn and String Orchestra by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
  • In 2004-05: Quartre instants by Kaija Saariaho
  • And       Gathering Paradise, Emily Dickinson Seetings by Agusta Read Thomas
  • In 2002-03: Chateau de l’ame by Kaija Saariaho
  • In 2001-02: Echo Tempo for Soprano, Percussion, and Orchestra by Susan Botti
  • And       Viola Concerto by Sophia Gubaidulina
  • In 2001-02: Two Paths, Music for Two Violas and Orchestra by Sophia Gubaidulina

Alex Ross’ recent post regarding the lack of women in the 2011-12 season is unfortunate news, but not surprising.  Though I am glad for the conversations and reactions that his piece has caused throughout the music world – or, at least the blogging music world.

Christian Carey at Sequenza21 not only challenged readers to submit suggestions of their favorite women composers, but also created sample programs – though, sadly, did not include any works by women composers.

Alexandra Gardner of New Music Box also wrote about the lack of representation in the programming.

To be fair, I should note that the NYPhil will be performing a work by Gubaidulina this April, which I wrote about here.  Please note that this is the same work that was premiered by the orchestra in 1999 season, performed again in the 2001-02 season, and which was actually commissioned by Kurt Masur.  While it is wonderful that this work is getting another hearing, wouldn’t it be nice to expand the repertoire just a bit?