Helene Kenyeri fired
by the Vienna State Opera
On Monday, March 10, 2008, oboist
Helene Kenyeri was fired from the Vienna State Opera Orchestra after the
unsuccessful completion of her trial period. Her
contract will end on August 31, 2008.
The Vienna State Opera Orchestra
agreed to admit women in 1997, but after ten years, the m/f ratio for
permanent positions in the orchestra is still only 143 to 5.
Only two of these women have been granted membership in the
orchestra’s symphonic formation, The Vienna Philharmonic.
This makes the Vienna Philharmonic’s m/f ratio after ten years 135 to
On March 20, 2008 the Austrian
magazine News published an article by Heinz Sichrovsky and Susanne Zobl
entitled "Philharmoniker: Frau muss gehen." The article
says that the orchestra has hired 28 men and 8 women since it ended its
discriminatory policies in 1997. The article also notes that 1 man has
been fired and 3 women.
I was thus able to determine the following statistics for firings:
1 of 28 men (3.7%)
3 of 8 women. (37.5%)
The rate of firings for women is thus 10 times higher than for men.
It should also be noted that the only man fired was the first and only fully
non-Caucasian person the orchestra has ever hired, the tubist Yashuhito
Sugiyama. (The orchestra has a tradition of employing only Caucasions,
since it feels people of other races would destroy the ensemble's image of
In summary, no white men have been fired at all, zero, while over third of the
women have been dismissed.
Two women first violinists recently won auditions and will begin working next
season. Progress continues, but the few women in the orchestra often
face difficult hurdles. The retaliation against women was to be
expected, since the orchestra only began admitting them under great pressure.
Winning jobs in top orchestras requires extreme dedication. When women
win these jobs it is because music is fundamental to their identity as human
beings. Taking away their jobs causes unspeakable pain.
Women represent 1.5% of the Vienna Philharmonic, but 40% of the
National Orchestra of France, The Zurich State Opera, and the New York
Last year the Vienna State Opera
Orchestra faced international scandal after the controversial firing of violinist
Iva Nikolova. A detailed and
documented report about that firing can be found here.