News from the German-speaking world
Wolfgang Wagner, the stage director, grandson of Richard Wagner, and long-time autocrat of the Bayreuth festival, has died, age 90 (Bloomberg reports). It's a symbolic passing. Wagner was present for one of the company's golden ages when he shared the directorship with his gifted younger brother Wieland; opened productions up to outside stage directors for the first time after Wieland's death; then presided over a slow decline in the quality both of singing and productions (sometimes his own). But his role had diminished even before he stepped down from control two years ago, no longer able to run the festival after the unexpected death of his wife Gudrun and his own poor health. Bayreuth has already started to chart a new course under the joint leadership of his two daughters, Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Katharina Wagner.
Edited to add: In Tuesday's Washington Post: Wolfgang Wagner obituary, by Anne Midgette.
And the Vienna [EDITED TO ADD State Opera Orchestra, made up of members of the Vienna] Philharmonic has given tenure to Albena Danailova, its female concertmaster. The orchestra has been notorious for its long-standing resistance to admitting women, and even since the first woman was hired in 1997, the pace of change has been glacially slow. According to a recent article in The Independent, and information on the website of William Osborne (a composer and writer who has been a leading figure in collecting accurate data and raising awareness about the situation in the Vienna Philharmonic), there are seven women in the Vienna Philharmonic
orchestra -- four with tenure, now that Danailova has passed her probation period, and three more still in their probation period. It's not good or fast enough, but certainly having a woman in this position is the best sign there's been yet that the orchestra is actually willing to change.
Though the final quote from the Independent article left a bad taste in my mouth. A spokeswoman for the orchestra told the writer, explaining the discrepancy in the number of women, “Perhaps women are just not as ambitious as men.” Clearly this orchestra still has a long way to go.
Edited to add: Careless reading on my part: Danailova has been named concertmaster in the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, not the Vienna Philharmonic. The Vienna State Opera orchestra has the same players as the Vienna Philharmonic, but they don't hold the same positions. Danailova is now a full-fledged member of the Vienna Philharmonic; but she isn't the concertmaster.
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