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Thread: developments in classical music

  1. #1
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    Default developments in classical music

    If you see videos from the 1950s and 60s you will notice that there are hardly any women in orchestras in that time period.

    Now there are many women in orchestras.

    Do you think that this is a positive development?

    explain your opinions.

    What made women join orchestras in the modern era?
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    Senior Member chee_zee's Avatar
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    I think this is a negative development. Women do not belong in the orchestra, the only thing they need to be orchestrating is the arrangement of silverware on the dinner table. I think women got jealous of men, and attempted to do what men do, with the unfortunate effect of lowering the quality of orchestral music as a whole, thus resulting in a decline in attendance at symphony halls.
    Last edited by chee_zee; May-17-2012 at 17:26.

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    Senior Member Jeremy Marchant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by h1478971 View Post
    If you see videos from the 1950s and 60s you will notice that there are hardly any women in orchestras in that time period.

    Now there are many women in orchestras.

    Do you think that this is a positive development?

    explain your opinions.

    What made women join orchestras in the modern era?
    Surely it goes without saying that, in the 50s and 60s, women were actively discouraged - if not actually prevented - by men from joining orchestras just as they were discouraged from many other professions. And it was partly equal rights legislation that forced the issue rather than any realisation by men that they were behaving unjustly. It wasn't a case of women suddenly deciding it would be a nice idea to play in an orchestra!
    Last edited by Jeremy Marchant; May-17-2012 at 18:06.
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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    There has been a vast change in the demographics of working life throughout the world in the last sixty years, brought about by a variety of factors, starting with World War II, the advent of "Women's Lib", the ability of women to control - to a degree - their own fertility, the education of women and doubtless a dozen factors I have not mentioned.

    In South Africa we are starting to see people of colour in our orchestras, and this is being welcomed. Wish there were more people of colour putting their bums onto paid for seats.

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    I'm not sure it makes much of a difference. Do orchestras still audition with the applicant behind a screen, so they don't know their age, race, or gender? In a situation like that, it doesn't really matter if the group is made up of men, women, or Martians so long as they can play well.
    Last edited by Manxfeeder; May-17-2012 at 18:50.
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    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
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    @Manxfeeder, yes there are blind auditions still.

    I think there are plenty of examples of women musicians who are equal to men, take Martha Argerich, Hilary Hahn, Jacqueline Du Pre, Paula Robison. And not just "equal," but unique musicians in their own right.

    I got some insiders information that may be interesting to you all. My flute professor, who is a graduate from the Curtis Institute said that back when he was there, the Symphony Orchestra they had was not even as good as my state university's orchestra. Furthermore, that was back in the 50s, when there was all men in the orchestras, and my university's orchestra has something like 60:40 ratio of women to men. So wouldn't that conclude that adding women makes orchestras better, right?

    But seriously... can you imagine a male harpist?
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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Simple cultural context gender bias is what kept women out of orchestras, and business, and many other working positions in those eras. Now, out military has female jet-fighter pilots, and women are part of armed troupes, and also go into battle.

    The reasons for the shift of attitudes have been named by others in this thread: WWII saw American women doing jobs which were prior simply assumed as 'men's work' and thought of as only being capable of being done by men. With that home effort, in both America and Britain, women were riveting airplanes together in factories ("Rosie the Riveter"), driving trucks in transports, and quite efficiently demonstrated completely equal capability in many areas formerly 'reserved' for men.

    Orchestral institutions were de facto male bastions (many still are, but as you've seen, that is changing,) often with the only exceptions being the harpist and flautist, still today weirdly perceived of as 'women's instruments.' That odd and irrational social convention did not prevent virtuoso (male) Harpists, Nicanor Zabaleta, or Edward Druzinski, two name but two, from having internationally solid and respected careers (Zabaleta a soloist, Druzinski principal harpist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for many decades.)

    That convention about flute = female is beyond ironic -- it is hilariously funny: it takes just as much diaphragmatic strength and air capacity to play the flute as is required to play a tuba! (the traverse mouthpiece means a lot of air is not going directly into that much smaller bit of metal piping.)

    Other than perhaps the difference in muscle mass (say needing to bench press 280 pounds) women are just as capable as men -- at just about everything. (When NASA was doing preliminary physiologic testing on potential astronauts, it was found fact that women in general have much greater stamina than men :-)

    My only opinion about this subject is an abstruse retro-projection as to 'what might have been' if women had not been held back, both by men and women accepting the subservient status: what contributions might we have had from from the exceptionally bright and talented women of the past if they had been 'allowed' to exercise their talents in all those disciplines conventionally thought to be 'not women's territory or business -- the arts, sciences, literature, etc. had that dynamic been different? A tantalizing 'what if.'
    Last edited by PetrB; May-17-2012 at 20:14.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    But seriously... can you imagine a male harpist?
    When I was in junior high I went to a concert with dual harpists, both male. I don't remember much of the music; I just remember they tried to be funny with silly statements like, "We're just harping around." I can't imagine a female harpist doing that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    But seriously... can you imagine a male harpist?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    But seriously... can you imagine a male harpist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Iforgotmypassword View Post
    Anyway, here's an incredible mini-concert by a latin jazz harpist:


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    Senior Member moody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    @Manxfeeder, yes there are blind auditions still.

    I think there are plenty of examples of women musicians who are equal to men, take Martha Argerich, Hilary Hahn, Jacqueline Du Pre, Paula Robison. And not just "equal," but unique musicians in their own right.

    I got some insiders information that may be interesting to you all. My flute professor, who is a graduate from the Curtis Institute said that back when he was there, the Symphony Orchestra they had was not even as good as my state university's orchestra. Furthermore, that was back in the 50s, when there was all men in the orchestras, and my university's orchestra has something like 60:40 ratio of women to men. So wouldn't that conclude that adding women makes orchestras better, right?

    But seriously... can you imagine a male harpist?
    Yes, the most famous harpist ever was or is Nicanor Zabaletta.

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    Quote Originally Posted by h1478971 View Post
    If you see videos from the 1950s and 60s you will notice that there are hardly any women in orchestras in that time period.

    Now there are many women in orchestras.

    Do you think that this is a positive development?

    explain your opinions.

    What made women join orchestras in the modern era?
    It depended on the orchestra and the country, Beecham was completely against women members.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moody View Post
    Yes, the most famous harpist ever was or is Nicanor Zabaletta.
    I though it was Harpo Marx . He was certainly the funniest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by moody View Post
    It depended on the orchestra and the country, Beecham was completely against women members.
    You could never tell whether Beecham actually meant anything he said, but his claim used to be that he didn't like women players in his orchestra because "if they're good-looking they distract the players, and if they're not they distract me"
    cheers,
    GG
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraemeG View Post
    You could never tell whether Beecham actually meant anything he said, but his claim used to be that he didn't like women players in his orchestra because "if they're good-looking they distract the players, and if they're not they distract me" cheers,
    GG

    Ha! That's so him!

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