Vienna Orchestra Muzzles First Female Member

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(WOMENSENEWS)–The first woman appointed to the prestigious Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has reportedly been ordered by the orchestra’s manager to not speak to the press about her groundbreaking achievement.

A spokesman for the Philharmonic denied the claim, but told the British newspaper the Guardian that the orchestra does not “allow individual members to give interviews to prevent an unfair bias on any individual. The orchestra has to function as a unit.”

The orchestra has been all-male since it was founded in 1842. In 1996, under threat of losing government funding, the approximately 150-member orchestra said it would admit women to its ranks.

In 1997, the orchestra hired a temporary female harpist but did not list her name in the program or show her face on television.

Viola player Ursula Plaichinger was shown on television during its New Year’s performance, her first concert with the group. Her appointment to the orchestra was not announced before the concert.

Plaichinger is considered a “substitute” member of the orchestra until 2004, at which time she will be allowed to apply for full membership.

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