In his blog The Rest Is Noise on Thursday (10/3), Alex Ross discusses what he views as the pervasive bias against women in classical music, also touching on Russia’s news laws banning “homosexual propaganda.” Ross writes: “Recently, I came across a [September 2012] interview [with] the conductor Yuri Temirkanov—the longtime music director of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and … [Marin] Alsop’s predecessor at the Baltimore Symphony—gave last year to the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta…. A formidable figure in Russian music, Temirkanov served as a mentor both to Gergiev and later to Petrenko.… A Russian-speaking friend provided this translation: … ‘A woman should be beautiful, likable, attractive. Musicians will look at her and be distracted from the music! … The essence of the conductor’s profession is strength. The essence of a woman is weakness.’ ” In August, Russian-born conductor Vasily Petrenko had to apologize for similar remarks made just before Alsop conducted the Last Night of the Proms concert in London. “The bias against female musicians is hardly confined to Russia,” Ross continues. “The Vienna Philharmonic appears at Carnegie Hall season after season, despite the small number of women in its ranks…. The stiflingly male atmosphere in the upper echelons of classical music reinforces the image of a dim, hidebound art, out of tune with modern reality.”

Posted October 4, 2013

Pictured: Yuri Temirkanov