The Heydey of the Lady Musician

Category : Blog Archive Jul 12th, 2009

I highly recommend this severely dated article from the TIME Magazine issue of 9 December 1966, about female orchestral musicians.

Some noteworthy excerpts:

While most married symphony women practice the “offbeat rhythm method”–that is, plan their babies for delivery during the off-season–Peggy merrily pounds away on her drum practically right into the labor room.

Lady-Killer Zubin Mehta, 30, who appreciates a well-turned ankle as much as a well-played musical phrase, has different reasons. He has enforced a limit of 16 women in his Los Angeles Philharmonic, because “a woman’s life in the orchestra is not as long as a man’s; she is just not as good at 60 as a man is at 60.”

Most musicians agree that women are all right in their place—just as long as that place is not the first desk, a position that gives them authority over the other players in their section.

Some musicians complain that women are emotionally ill tuned to the rigors of symphony life and that they play erratically during menstruation or when they are concerned about family problems.

Thanks, Courtney!