Join the Conversation: Women in the Berlin Philharmonic

The blog of Tony Woodcock, president of the New England Conservatory, has caused quite a stir as of late – at least around the members of the International Alliance for Women in Music.

The article that’s causing such a stir, which may seem innocuous at first, touts the merits of the Berlin Philharmonic. Woodcock lauds the ensemble as being “The coolest band in the world” and writes extensively about the ensemble’s merits. What he completely neglects to mention is that the BPO has, by William Osborne’s calculations, the fourth lowest ratio of women musicians in the world. The women in the Berlin Phil make up 13.82% of the ensemble, whereas the women musicians in the New York Philharmonic make up over 40% of the ensemble.

I recommend you read Woodcock’s original post, found here, as well as the comments that have been left bringing up this issue, and invite you to join the conversation and weigh in. Osborne, who I have written about before in relation to his activism and advocacy regarding the Vienna Philharmonic, included extensive information in the comments section. It’s discouraging that Mr. Woodcock hasn’t yet responded to any of the comments to either acknowledge his (perhaps innocent) oversight, or his feelings on the continued problems with equality in (some) European institutions.

For futher reading, I also recommend Osborne’s piece on the status of women in European ensembles, first published by the IAWM in 1996.