Vienna Philharmonic

27 février 1997
02m 34s
Ref. 00241


Summary :

Report on the history and organization of the Vienna Philharmonic. This key institution in the world's musical landscape is in the middle of a revolution since it will now be accepting female musicians within its ranks.

Media type :
Broadcast date :
27 février 1997
Source :
A2 (Collection: JA2 20H )
Themes :
Places :


The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the three or four most prestigious in the world. It was founded in 1842 by Otto Nicolai and has since been governed by the same rules: musicians select their members and conductors. It has had such great names in the history of music as conductors as: Hans Richter, Gustav Mahler, Felix Weingartner, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Bruno Walter, Herbert von Karajan, Pierre Boulez, Claudio Addado...

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has created numerous works which are now classics, like Brahms or Bruckner symphonies. It happens in the magnificent theatre, wood-panelled and golden, the Musikverein, known the world over for the new year concerts that are broadcast to television sets. This orchestra has a reputation for it's velvet sounds, with its homogenous strings that are particularly well adapted to a Germanic repertoire. From 1997 the orchestra accepted the election of a woman, a harpist, in its ranks.

Michel Coupard


Bruno Masure
The musicians of the Vienna philharmonic orchestra just accepted within their ranks, if I dare say, female musicians. This last chauvinist bastion is a leading institution in the world's musical landscape and for this reason Bruno Albin and Maryse Richard went themselves to take a look at how things are working out.
Bruno Albin
Even though we say that the Viennese have the most beautiful concert hall in the world. Which isn't a minor feat, they have the orchestra that suits it, nothing but men. 155 years, that's the age of the Vienna philharmonic. Born during the era of emperors, but its founders wanted, above all, to celebrate the glory of Mozart and Beethoven.
Bruno Albin
With a tone that defies time, the philharmonists are able to say: "We've played with the greatest ones". They're talking about Wagner and Bernstein, not to mention Mahler and Karajan. Their archives piously conserve the letters, Brahms's glasses, and especially the manifesto by which their society has been created, self-management before its time. One vote for each decision, today it's for the admission of the female musicians, or to elect the one that will direct them.
Clemens Hellsberg
[Austrian] Our conductors are our guests. This usually means that we only work with musicians for which a majority of us have voted for.
Bruno Albin
For them, the conductor is just another musician, the first one, their equal.
Daniel Barenboïm
I think that each musician should be able to lead with the conductor. The conductor, he has to be there to homogenise things, if you will, several activities that are taking place everywhere. And that, it's orchestrated in a clear and concise manner.
Bruno Albin
Today, they're losing the epithet of the most chauvinist orchestra of Europe. They'll be in Paris tomorrow night, where each man and woman will be able to tip their hats to them without any second thoughts.