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Vienna Philharmonic Recruits Its First Woman Player



Six years after the government threatened to cut off funding because of discriminatory hiring practices, the 158-year-old Vienna Philharmonic has recruited its first woman player. Ursula Plaichinger, a 27-year-old viola player, made front-page news in Austria in January when she joined the all-male orchestra. In the past, the Vienna Philharmonic was forced to hire a female harpist on occasion, due to the lack of male harpists. Yet the gender barrier lingered. According to Guardian Unlimited, Otto Nessizius, a violinist who retired from the Philharmonic in 1987 but who still fills in for colleagues, was quoted as saying that the ban on women had been justified: "With women, there are always cliques and intrigues," he said.

*This article appeared in Strings April 2003
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