“You Sound Like A Ladies Orchestra”

A Case History of Sexism Against Abbie Conant

In the Munich Philharmonic

 

By William Osborne  

(Published in 1994)

(This article has won a Best of the Web Award.)

 

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Deutsche Fassung

   

The Sections of This Article

 

Foreword

 Sixteen Is A Woman!

“You Know the Problem”

 “Your Nerves Will Never Hold Out”

 What Is the Accusation?

 “We Can’t Draw And Quarter Them”

 Date Calendars And Requiems

 “The Most Difficult Passages”

 No Time

 The Second Gauntlet

 “You Sound Like A Ladies’ Orchestra”

 “At Least Two Other Solo-Winds”

 “Indecent Treatment”

 “An Unobstructed Masculine Aura”

 “You Are Ordered To Play Assistant. No Discussion”

 “Up To Fifteen Years In Prison”

 “At the Expense of the Capitol City of Munich”

 Endnotes

 An Overview With Key Dates

 

 

 

 

Foreword

 

During the Third Reich the Munich Philharmonic was known as “The Orchestra of the Fascist Movement”.  It stamped its music with an insignia containing those words circumscribing an eagle holding a swastika in its talons. After the war the words were blotted out, but the swastikas were never removed.  Since the insignia was on a number of important works, including Buckner Symphonies, tone poems by Strauss, and waltzes used for the yearly Philharmonic Ball, the swastikas appeared several times a year.

 

In the summer of 1991 I wrote to city councilwoman Monika Renner, requesting that the swastikas be removed.  She answered that she shared my concern, and that she had notified the cultural ministry, who asked the Philharmonic to remove them.

 

The Philharmonic wrote to me on July 10, 1991, noting that the words had already been blotted out, but ignoring that the swastikas had never been touched.  They added:

 

“It seems, dear Mr. Osborne, that you and your wife try everything, in order to put the Munich Philharmonic and the Capital City of Munich in a bad light.  In the process you feel every means is justified.”

 

(“Es scheint, sehr geehrter Herr Osborne, daß Sie und Ihre Frau alles versuchen, um die Münchner Philharmoniker und die Landeshauptstadt Munchen in ein schlechtes Licht zu rücken.  Dabei ist Ihnen jedes Mittel recht.”)

 

They did not foresee that in the following year there would be 2300 attacks on foreigners by Neo-Nazis and seventeen racist murders.  In 1994 the number had risen to over 6000 attacks.

 

They also denied that there was any sexism in the Munich Philharmonic, so I’ve written this to document it and the role Munich politicians played.  It is not my goal to embarrass anyone, but rather to enhance Germany’s wonderful musical tradition.  Their women musicians, such as Anne-­ Sophie Mutter, are fantastic.  

 

I have laboriously footnoted the facts because it is well known that social criticism is ineffective unless it is clearly grounded. Fortunately, court records and letters document almost all of the salient facts in this report. AGM (Arbeitsgericht München) is an abbreviation for the Munich Labor Court, and LAG (Landesarbeitsgericht) is an abbreviation for the State Labor Court. If the date and author of letters are mentioned in the text, I do not add a footnote. Copies or originals of all the documents mentioned here, with minor exception, are in the possession of the author, and can be mailed or faxed to those who need them. 

 


You Sound Like A Ladies’ Orchestra

 

Sixteen is a woman!

 

In 1980 Ms. Abbie Conant applied for eleven trombone positions advertised in Germany.  She received only one audition invitation: a letter from the Munich Philharmonic addressed to a Herr Abbie Conant.(1)

 

She auditioned on June 19, 1980 and competed against 32 men. The first round was held behind a screen.  She was sixteenth to play and no candidates who played after her were selected for the second round.  When the finalists’ numbers were called, there was amazement that trombone sixteen was a woman.  In the second and third rounds, done without a screen, she clearly defeated her male opponents, and the orchestra voted to hire her.

 

According to orchestra chairman Deinhardt Goritski, general music director Celibidache was opposed to employing her(2), but he was new with the orchestra and not yet in a position to overrule it.  He was, for example, still bargaining with the city about demands he wanted, and threatening to leave if they were not fulfilled.

 

One change was made.  In the thirteen years since then, no more Munich Philharmonic auditions have been held behind a screen.(3)  

 

 

The Probationary Year: “You know the problem.

 

Ms. Conant passed her probation year vote with the same success she had with her audition, and in the following years she became known internationally for her work as a soloist, teacher, and performer of new music theater.  She is one of the few trombonists to make  internationally recognized solo recordings of classical music.  She has been regularly invited as a featured soloist at international trombone conventions, and was elected to the board of directors of the International Trombone Association by its 4000 members.  This board is a group of top trombonists who represent the highest professional standards.  The International Trombone Association Journal has described her as “in the first rank of world class trombonists”.(4)  [Ed. update: In 1998 she was elected Vice President-President Elect of the ITA.]

 

Until recently though, European orchestras have been a male domain.  The Vienna and Prague Philharmonics refuse membership to women.(5)  The Berlin Philharmonic has three; the first entered the orchestra in 1983.(6)  The Munich Philharmonic has 16 women out of 130 members; 12 of them play a relatively minor role in the tutti violins.(7)  In America too, the situation, though better, is far from good. 

 

When Ms. Conant was called to a meeting on a May morning of 1981 she assumed it was about work assignments.  Instead, she was met by a small group of men who announced, to her surprise, that the GMD wished to veto her Probejahr (trial year) vote and demote her to second trombone.  The principal speaker for the group was the bass trombonist from her section, Robert Meissner.

 

Mr. Celibidache should have had no trouble firing or demoting Ms. Conant during her Probejahr.  He needed only present her with two written criticisms(8), but her Probejahr was over and she had received no criticisms at all, not even verbally in the rehearsals.(9)

 

She contacted the Deutsche Orchester Vereinigung (The German Musicians Union) and they agreed to pay her legal costs if she took her employer, the City of Munich, to court. The union explained that the litigation would last at least five years; that during that entire time she would have to play second trombone; and that she would have a much greater workload with less pay.  (In reality the subsequent legal action lasted twelve years.)  They explained that in continental law the accused must supply proof, and that to do so she must begin the embarrassing task of collecting testimonials from brass playing colleagues and guest conductors.

 

To avoid all of this Ms. Conant spoke with the GMD and freely volunteered to be given a second Probejahr so that he would have the opportunity to explain what dissatisfied him.   She was confident of her ability and felt sure any problems could be cleared up.

 

It  was a golden opportunity for Mr. Celibidache, but at the beginning of the next season Ms. Conant played only one concert for him, and though she received no criticism(l0), he did not allow her to play solo for him for the rest of the year.  On  February 3, 1982 she received a ten-line letter from the orchestra demoting her to second trombone--still with no criticisms.

 

On November 11, 1982 Ms. Conant spoke with Mr. Celibidache and made a second attempt to reach a compromise, offering to play second for him, but solo for guest conductors.  She was particularly concerned that he had not  mentioned any problems about her playing.  He rejected the offer, saying,

 

            “You know the problem, we need a man for the solo trombone.”(11)

 

 

“Your Nerves Will Never Hold Out”

 

It was generally assumed that Ms. Conant’s nerves would never hold out through the harassment and rigors of a lengthy court battle, and so, without waiting for the outcome of the trial, another trombonist was hired to fill her “vacated” position.

 

Certain people left little to chance that Ms. Conant might leave.  She was warned by an official of the orchestra, Mr. Adam Fendt, that if she carried on with the trial the county of Munich might not renew her foreigner’s residence permit.(l2)  Ms. Conant gave up her house and moved to another county where she eventually received a permanent permit.

 

In order to diminish her support within the orchestra, the rumor was circulated that if the GMD left, possibly because of her, a considerable raise in the orchestra’s salary would be lost.

 

Ms. Conant was invited to a meeting on December 15, 1982, whose purpose was described as “the avoidance of the coming trial.”(13)  She assumed this meant a compromise, but recent events had warned her to be cautious, so she took her lawyer to the meeting, which was attended by seven opposing men all representing the GMD: three orchestra chairmen; the chief orchestra administrator; a representative of the personnel office; and two members of the personnel committee.

 

Her lawyer asked the seven men what compromise they were willing to offer, but none had even been prepared.  Nor did they allow Ms. Conant and her lawyer to present the compromise offer they had worked out.(14)  They simply insisted that she withdraw her case, reiterating that she “had no chance”.  One orchestra chairman, Deinhardt Goritski, pointedly stated, “Your nerves will never hold out”.

   

Twenty days later Mr. Goritski accused her of refusing to come to work, leading to a disciplinary inquiry in which she proved the accusation completely false.(15)  It was a war on her nerves.

 

 

What Is the Accusation?

 

Ms. Conant chose to go to court, and the first hearing on August 17, 1982 did not last long.  The judge could make no ruling because no specific or concrete criticism had been presented.(16)  The briefs, for example, should have been exact descriptions of problems in concerts.

 

In addition, they had not given her the legally required written warnings--which also should have contained specific criticisms.(17)  Judge Gick told the city lawyers to specify their accusations, and set another trial date for ten months later, June 16, 1983.

 

In their next writing to the court on February 3, 1983 the basis for the demotion that they gave sounds almost macho :

 

“The plaintiff does not possess the necessary physical strength to be a leader of the trombone section; she is not in the position to clearly lead the trombone group. Apart from that, she lacks the required empathy to translate the artistic wishes of the General Music Director” ( 18)

 

(Die Klagerin verfügt nicht über die physische erforderliche Kraft als Stimmführerin der Posaunen; sie ist nicht in der Lage, die Posaunengruppe eindeutig zu fuhren.  Im übrigen fehlt der Klagerin das erforderliche Einfuhlungsvermogen um die künstlerischen Vorstellungen des Generalmusikdirektors umzusetzen.)

 

In response to the accusations of inadequate physical strength it was necessary for Ms. Conant to receive testing at the Gautinger Lung Clinic.(l9)  She had to breathe inside a sealed cabin and have blood taken from her ear to see how efficiently her body absorbed oxygen.  She had to blow through numerous machines to measure the capacity of her lungs, and the speed at which she could inhale and exhale air.  She had to disrobe and let a doctor examine her rib cage and chest.  Afterwards a nurse asked her if she were an athlete.  The results were far above average.

 

At the second trial the city lawyers were accompanied by GMD Celibidache.  Again the briefs were without a single clear substantiated criticism.  The judge ruled testimony by the GMD was therefore pointless.(20)

 

The city argued, but the judge pointed out that in any case, it would be Celibidache’s word against the forty-three recognized musicians and testimonials from guest conductors that Ms. Conant had listed in her brief.(21)  The GMD, still unable to make a specific accusation, was furious.  On July 6, 1983, the administration wrote Ms. Conant a letter at the GMD’s request, stating that she was not even qualified to play second trombone.

 

On June 16, 1983 the court gave the city yet a third chance:

 

“The accused is once again requested to give details about the accusations made against the plaintiff with a presentation of the deeds and if possible also with the dates.”(22)

 

At the hearing on March 29, 1984 there were still no clear examples of Ms. Conant’s alleged weaknesses.  The court ruled in favor of Ms. Conant:

 

            “The suit is permissible because the change in work assignments, due to the lack of a substantiated argument, is unjustified.”

 

“The accused has not justified their demotion with facts, but rather generalized value judgments.”

 

“Above and beyond that, they do not say when (date) the alleged mistakes happened.  They also do not mention when the plaintiff was given a warning.”

 

“It is therefore not possible for the court to determine what the plaintiff did wrong, or determinable whether she took the alleged warnings to heart, or in other words, whether the mistakes were made again after the warning.”(23)

 

(“Die zulässige Klage ist begrundet, da die Änderung der Arbeitsbedingunen mangels substantierten Vortrags der Beklagten sozial ungerechtfertigt ist.”

 

“Die Beklagte fuhrt zu ihren Kundigungsvorwurfen im wesentlichen keine Tatsachen an, sondern lediglich pauschale Wertungen.”

 

“Sie fuhrt daruberhinaus nicht an, wann (Datum) der Klagerin die behaupteten Fehler unterlaufen seien.  Sie fuhrt weiterhin nicht an, wann die Klagerin abgemahnt worden sei.”

 

“Es ist somit fur das Gericht weder feststellbar, was die Klagerin falsch gemacht hat, noch feststellbar, ob sich die Klagerin die behaupteten Abmahnungen nicht zu herzen genommen hat, d.h. ob ein Wiederholungsfall nach der letzten Abmahnung vorgelegen hat.”)

 

The city appealed.

 

 

“We Can’t Draw and Quarter Them”

 

Four years had now passed since Ms. Conant had entered the orchestra.  A new Lord Mayor, George Kronawitter, was elected and conflicts between the GMD and the city arose again.  He objected to, among other things, the hesitation to remove unwanted musicians and cultural ministers.  As one of the local papers, Die Abendzeitung, wrote on Nov. 14, 1984:

 

“Even if one could take musicians who have fallen out of grace and just put them out of action, one can’t topple over the cultural ministers.  In the halls of the city hall it is openly said, ‘We can’t draw and quarter them, and hang them out on the city square. “‘(24)

 

(“War man noch bereit, bei Celibidache in Ungnade gefallene Musiker aus dem Verkehr zu ziehen, den Kulturreferenten kann niemand kippen. ‘Wir konnen ihn doch nicht vierteilen und am Marienplatz ausstellen wird in den Rathaus-Gangen laut gesagt.´”)

 

In the winter of 1984 GMD Celibidache abruptly left the orchestra in the middle of the season causing a scandal and great financial loss for the city. The methods of the GMD were known from two orchestras he had treated similarly, Stockholm and Stuttgart, but after several weeks the city made compromises and the Maestro returned.  As only four years earlier, and again at GMD Celibidache’s request, the city fired the head orchestra administrator--after giving him a huge payment to end his contract.  Ms. Conant remained firm in her fight.

 

It was at this time that Anne-Sophie Mutter, engaged as soloist, so resented the GMD’s treatment of her, that she walked out of a rehearsal and cancelled her performances with the Munich Philharmonic.  Even years later, during the 1991 Philharmonic tour in Madrid, he referred to her in an interview as a “geigende Henne” (a violin-playing hen).(25)

 

In July of 1991 a mother’s group in the orchestra wanted to discuss tour-sharing and unpaid vacations, which are guaranteed by their employer, the city of Munich.(26) Mr. Celibidache angrily told them:  “If you wanted children you chose the wrong profession.” [See "A Difficult Birth: Maternity Leave In the Veinna Philharmonic."]

 

And in the summer of 1988 Mr. Celibidache removed a young woman, Anja Trautwein, (now Traub) from the concertmistress position of the Schlesswig-Holstein festival, simply stating,  “Only men on the first stands.” (“Nur Manner am ersten Pult.”)(27)

 

Perhaps the conductor’s general attitude toward women can be determined from the following excerpt from an Abendzeitung interview, Nov. 10, 1984, in which he explains his opinion of critics:

 

“These people who daily poison everything, should take a pause or write about gynecology.  In that area everyone has a little experience.  But in music they are virgins.  So they will remain, and so they will go into the other world, never fertilized by a single experienced tone.”(28) 

 

(“Diese Leute, die taglich alles vergiften, sollten einmal pausieren oder über Gynakologie schreiben.  Auf dem Gebiet hat doch jeder ein bischen Erfahrung.  Aber in der Musik sind sie Jungfrauen.  So bleiben sie, so gehen sie auch in die andere Welt hinuber, nie von einem wirklich erlebten klang befruchtet.”)

 

 

Date Calendars and Requiems

 

For their appeal hearings, which began February 15, 1985, which took three years, and during which time Ms. Conant had to continue playing second trombone with its greater work load and less pay, the city changed its strategy.  In order to construct specific accusations they used the orchestra date calendar to find concerts Ms. Conant had played.  The problems they alleged were not rehearsed or mentioned in the rehearsals for these concerts.

 

They claimed, for example, in their brief of September 17, 1984 that her “shortness of breath was unoverhearable” in her repeated performances of the famous trombone solo in Mozart’s Requiem.  Two orchestra chairmen, Jürgen Borchers and Ernst Faehndrich, were listed as witnesses.(29) Embarrassingly, they had overlooked that the guest conductor of these concerts, Yoav Talmi, had written her a glowing testimonial, specifically mentioning the solo.(30)

 

 

“The Most Difficult Passages”

 

Judge Starkloff, however, said he understood nothing about music and ruled on March 6, 1985, that the matter would be settled by a specialist, preferably a conductor, who would determine:

 

“Whether the Plaintiff--for an orchestra of the quality of the Munich Philharmonic --possesses unconditionally the necessary physical strength, endurance, and durability to play the most difficult passages according to conductors’ instructions for length, intensity, and loudness.”(31)

   

(“Ob die Klägerin die für eine Solo- posaunistin eines Orchesters von Rang der “Münchner Philharmoniker” unabdingbar erforderliche physiche Kraft, Aus- dauer, und Belastbarkeit (= Atemkraft, Atem- volumen) besitzt, um schwierige und schwierigste Phrasen nach den Anweisungen des Dirigenten ausreichend lange und mit der gewünschten Intensitat sowie Starke durchzuhalten.”)

 

To insure that a specialist of the highest quality was found, the fee was set at 3000DM ($2200).(32)  He or she was to listen to Ms. Conant play selected passages and prepare a written report.  Both sides were to supply a list of candidates from which the judge would select one.

 

Ms. Conant supplied a complete list of all the conductors in Germany’s ninety-five state orchestras, and a list of several German trombone professors.(33)  The city listed no conductors, and only two trombone professors,(34) both of who had conflicts of interest because they were competing with Ms. Conant for a professorship at the Munich Conservatory.

 

In spite of the fee, the court had great difficulties finding a conductor to judge her.  Potential candidates knew that if they ruled in Ms. Conant’s favor they might never be invited to work with the Philharmonic.

 

 

No Time

 

After about a year, on March 3, 1986, Professor Paul Schreckenberger of the State Conservatory in Mannheim, agreed to evaluate Ms. Conant.  The judge recommended dates and Prof. Schreckenberger said they could be met by June 22, 1986.(35)  But because of the Professor’s and Munich Philharmonic’s repeated cancellations and delays, it set in motion one of the hardest tests of nerves Ms. Conant had to endure.

 

On April 22, 1986 Prof. Schreckenberger wrote stating that the evaluation should be taped, and made in the concert hall of the Munich Philharmonic.(36)  The city insisted that he also hear Ms. Conant in concert with the Philharmonic, and suggested concerts on June 4 and 5, 1986.(37)  Ms. Conant prepared strenuously, but shortly before these concerts Prof. Schreckenberger said he would like to move the evaluation to September.  In the same letter he included a list of very difficult passages he would use to test Ms. Conant.(38)

 

Undaunted by the strenuous build up to nothing Ms. Conant worked hard through her summer vacation, but by the end of September there was no word at all from the professor. The city suggested concerts for the winter and spring of 1987, but no date was set.

 

On May 15, 1987 the city told the court that they had spoken with Schreckenberger by telephone and that he “saw no obstacles to fulfilling his commission in the first week of June”.(39)  Ms. Conant thought the date had finally arrived, and prepared thoroughly for rigorous testing, but on May 21, 1987 he telephoned the Munich Philharmonic and said he could not come.(40)  On July 2, 1987 he withdrew completely saying he did not have time.(41)  It had now been two and a half years since the court decided a specialist would be used.

 

The court contacted one of the professors the city had originally named, (Michael Stern)--with whom she was competing for a professorship--but he refused on grounds of self-admitted prejudice.(43)

 

A third professor was contacted, Heinz Fadle, president of the Internationale Posaunen Vereinigung.  He accepted and sent a list of seven of the most difficult passages in the trombone repertoire.  On February 25, 1988, Ms. Conant traveled to his city and played these passages, usually three times each with varying instructions for style, loudness, phrasing, and vibrato.  The entire procedure was tape recorded and witnessed by a city representative, Professor Rolf Quinque.(44)

 

The audition was far more rigorous than any orchestra audition, rehearsal, or concert; but in his court report the professor could only speak in the most positive terms:

 

            “She is a wind player with an outstandingly well-trained embouchure, i.e. lip musculature, that enables her to produce controlled tone production in connection with a controlled breath flow, and which gives her the optimal use of her breath volume.   Her breathing technique is very good and makes her playing, even in the most difficult passages, superior and easy.  In this audition she showed sufficient physical strength, endurance, and breath volume, and above and beyond that, she has enormously solid nerves.  This, paired with the above mentioned wind playing qualities, puts her completely in the position to play the most difficult phrases in a top orchestra, holding them out according to the conductor’s ‘directions for adequate length and intensity, as well as strength.’”(45)

 

(“Sie ist eine Blaserin mit hervorragend ausgebildetem Ansatz - d.h. Lippenmuskulatur, die kontrollierte Tonproduktion in Verbindung mit kontrolliertem Atemfluß ermöglicht, welche ihr optimale Ausnutzung ihres Atemvolumens erlaubt.  Ihre Atemtechnik ist sehr gut und macht ihr Spiel auch bei schwierigsten Passagen uberlegen und leicht.  Physische Kraft, Ausdauer und Atemvolumen hat sie bei diesem Vorspiel hinreichend beweisen konnen - darüber hinaus eine enorme Nervenkraft.  Diese, gepaart mit ihren obengenannten bläserischen Eigenschaften, setzen sie durchaus in die Lage, in einem Spitzenorchester als Soloblaserin schwierigste Phrasen nach ‘Anweisung des Dirigenten ausreichend lange und mit der gewünschten Intentsität sowie Starke durchzuhalten.“)

 

For a second time, on July 1, 1988, the courts ruled in Ms. Conant’s favor.(46)  After eight years in the orchestra, and six in court; after attempts at compromise, and examinations by doctors; after numerous legal hearings, and harassment by colleagues; and finally after examination by a trombone specialist, she was reinstated in her solo position.

 

The Second Gauntlet

 

This was, however, only the beginning of a new round of harassment and court cases.  The city of Munich would still not treat Ms. Conant equally with her 15 male solo-wind colleagues.

 

They began by refusing to pay her as solo-trombonist, and refusing to deliver her back pay until they received the written judgment.(47)  These decisions were made after discussion with GMD Celibidache.(48)  They knew the judge was slow, and that the document would not justify an appeal, but that the delay would prevent her from starting trials for equal treatment.(49)  Judge Starkloff, who had already taken three years with the case, took an additional two years to prepare the written judgment.  It was three pages long.

 

It arrived on August 14, 1990.  The Munich Philharmonic then placed Ms. Conant--the only woman solo wind--in a lower salary group than all fifteen of her male colleagues.(50)  She was placed in salary group III, and all the men in group IV. The higher grouping for Ms. Conant had to be approved by GMD Celibidache.(51)

 

He also excluded only her from automatic maximum seniority that was granted in 1987 to all her male colleagues.(52)  These colleagues, with the same status as Ms. Conant, were paid over 1100DM ($800) per month more than she was.(53)

 

Due to the extra work required of tutti players, she was obligated during years of litigation to do the equivalent of two years extra work.(54)  And finally, even after regaining her position, GMD Celibidache refused to let her play solo, and used loopholes in the contract to force her to regularly play second and assistant to her male colleagues.(55)  None of her 15 male solo-wind colleagues had to play these positions under similar circumstances.(56)  With these actions it was assumed she would eventually leave the orchestra.

 

 

 “You Sound Like a Ladies’ Orchestra!”

 

 Ms. Conant did not know that she was placed in a lower pay group than all of her male solo-wind colleagues,(57) and only found out during trials to receive the seniority payment her colleges received in 1987.(58)

 

Ignorant of the facts, she cancelled a hearing set for August of 1990, and attempted to reach a friendly settlement.(59) After regaining her solo position the city had three solo-trombonists and no second.  She spoke with the other two solo­ trombonists, Dankwart Schmidt and Dany Bovin, and they agreed all three would equally share the work of second, if she would be given equal treatment.(60)  The city could thus avoid hiring an additional trombonist.

 

But before an agreement with the city could be discussed Mr. Schmidt decided to play second full time, without conditions. She asked Mr. Schmidt why, and he said the orchestra chairmen had put him under a great deal of pressure.  They were not interested in a permanent solution, but in having a temporary second until Ms. Conant left due to discrimination.

 

Ms. Conant requested the orchestra chairmen not to require her to play lower positions.  They refused.  While she was speaking with chairman David Moltz, a colleague who was not aware of what was being discussed, walked up and told a joke:

 

“Do you know what the difference between a woman and a toilet is?  You don’t have to kiss a toilet when you’re through with it.”(61)

 

Mr. Moltz laughed heartily and walked off.

 

On July 12, 1990 she wrote to the Frauengleichstellungs­stel1e (the Women’s Equal Treatment Office)--even though it is part of the Munich government she was opposing, and requested help to receive equal pay and equal work assignments.

 

The director, Ms. Schreyögg, who is also a chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD), wrote back on July 27, 1990 without addressing the two questions, saying only that they could do nothing, since it would take “supernatural powers” to change a “self-contented patriarch” like GMD Celibidache.  She recommended Ms. Conant “wait until a more woman-friendly conductor takes over the rudder. (“bis ein neuer frauenfreundlicher GMD das Ruder übernimmt.”)

 

In a personal interview on September 10, 1990 Schreyögg said the situation was difficult because GMD Celibidache threatens to leave when things don’t please him.  She said she would discuss the matter with Lord Mayor Kronawitter and recommended Ms. Conant write him.

 

On October 15, 1990, Ms. Conant’s husband wrote to Mayor Kronawitter (SPD), asking him to help her receive equal treatment.  He mentioned that GMD Celibidache had justified Ms. Conant’s demotion with the declaration, “You know the problem, we need a man for the solo trombone.”, and that as recently as April of 1990 GMD Celibidache had sarcastically insulted the Munich Philharmonic with the words:

 

“You sound like a ladies’ orchestra!”

(“Sie klingen wie eine Damen Orchester.”)(62)

 

Her husband included over 200 pages of programs and reviews documenting Ms. Conant’s qualifications, including the testimonials she used in court when regaining her position. Among the authors were: Kurt Masur, GMD of both the New York Philharmonic and the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig; Hans Stadlmair, GMD of the Munich Chamber Orchestra; Mats Liljefors, GMD of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra; Othmar Maga, GMD of the Seoul Philharmonic; Christopher Keene, GMD of the New York City Opera; and Yoav Talmi,  GMD of the San Diego Symphony.(63)

 

In November 5, 1990, hoping this information would help lead to the friendly settlement--and still not knowing she was being paid less than all her male colleagues--Ms. Conant and the union lawyer met with the Personnel Office of the City of Munich, and the administration of the Munich Philharmonic, to request the same seniority payment that her colleagues received in 1987.  Both offices refused.

 

On December 5, 1990, Lord Mayor Kronawitter answered her husband’s letter and said he understood that statements by GMD Celibidache about the need for men in solo positions and ladies’ orchestras could be offensive to women.  He said he would make some inquiries and write again.

 

The Lord Mayor never wrote back with the promised response. Due to a statute of limitations it became necessary for Ms. Conant to give up the attempted friendly settlement, and reopen her court case against the City of Munich--represented by Lord Mayor Kronawitter--to receive equal pay.(64)

 

 

“At Least Two Other Solo-Winds”

 

The first hearing was on January 23, 1991.  The city’s brief, written by Stadtdirektor Leonti and dated January 23, 1991, took advantage of Ms. Conant’s confusion, by falsely claiming there were other solo-winds in her pay group III:

 

“The fact is the solo-instrumentalists are categorized through-out in different pay groups.  This applies also to the solo-winds, of whom at least two others are also placed only in pay group III of the Munich Philharmonic pay scale.”(65)

   

(“Vielmehr verhalt es sich so, daß die Solo-instrumental­isten vom Gehalt durchaus unter- schiedlich eingestuft sind.  Die gilt auch fur die Soloblaser, von denen zumindest zwei ebenfalls nur nach Vergutunqsgruppe III des Tarifvertrags der Munchner Philharmoniker bezahlt werden.”)

 

They could not list proof from their own records as employer, since it was untrue.  Instead, they listed a false declaration made on January 3, 1991 by the orchestra chairmen of the Munich Philharmonic.(66)

 

Judge Mack, who also thought it was only a question of equal pay with the older colleagues, still felt the situation was scandalous.  She said she took no responsibility if the story came into the press; strongly recommended that the city compromise; and set a new trial date to give them time to work one out.

 

At the next hearing on March 8, 1991 the city offered to give Ms. Conant salary group IV, but not the seniority level that all her male colleagues received in 1987.  She rejected the offer.  She still did not infer that only then would she even be in the same pay group as her younger colleagues.

 

 

“Indecent Treatment”

 

 Ms. Conant still hoped the Lord Mayor would help, and wrote him on January 31, 1991, mentioning Mr. Celibidache’s remarks about “gynecology” and “virgins,” and the orchestra chairman finding jokes about women and toilets humorous.  She asked him to spare her the additional years in court to receive equal treatment.  On March 14, 1991 he wrote and refused.

 

He justified himself by writing: “Please understand I can’t interfere in a pending case.”, although he knew about the situation at least five months before the trials started.(67) It was well remembered in the city hall that GMD Celibidache might leave--as in 1984--if decisions were made he didn’t like.

 

In their brief of April 22, 1991 the city presented a dissembling explanation of the pay categorizations.(68)  The wording made Ms. Conant suspicious.  She made inquiries and discovered she was in a lower pay group than all l5 of her male colleagues.  On May 13, 1991 her lawyer notified the court.(69)

 

In the hearing on June 7, 1991, the judge said the city’s treatment of Ms. Conant was “indecent” (“unanständig”).(70)  She ordered that Ms. Conant be put in the same pay group as her 15 male colleagues because the equal treatment laws had been broken (“wegen Verletzung der Gleichbehandlungsgesetz”).( 71)

 

She ruled, however, that Ms. Conant could not receive the same seniority group that all her male colleagues received in 1987, because it would have been necessary for the union representing Ms. Conant to request GMD Celibidache’s criteria for the seniority payment, and to require the city to prove that in 1987 all of her male colleagues were evaluated on that basis.  The union didn’t request the information in spite of repeated explanations from the court.(72)  The orchestra chairmen were opposed to its release.(73)

 

The judge told Ms. Conant she would like to rule differently, but couldn’t, adding, “Don’t say this ruling is quite as bad as your employer.”  (Sagen Sie nicht, die Rechtsprechung sei genauso schlimm wie Ihr Arbeitgeber.”)(74)  She warned that breaking the equal rights laws would be very embarrassing, and gave the city and orchestra a last chance to make an out of court settlement.  They refused.

 

On October 28, 1991 her story appeared in a three-page article in Der Spiegel, Germany’s largest news magazine, and caused an international scandal.  Since then the story appears regularly in the international press.(75)

 

 

“An Unobstructed Masculine Aura”

 

The city began efforts to cleanse Mr. Celibidache’s reputation.  On June 28, 1992 Lord Mayor Kronawitter presented Celibidache with an award naming him an “Honorable Citizen” (Ehrenbürger) of Munich.  And in the orchestra’s February/March 1992 edition of the Philharmonische Blätter, tutti cellist and former orchestra chairman Jorg Eggebrecht, made an official denial that GMD Celibidache is a sexist:

 

“There can be no discussion that the Maestro is a sexist.”

 

“Sergiu Celibidache is an extraordinary European, so impressive, because in him an unobstructed masculine aura is projected that is not corruptible. And the world is in great need of this, because we live in a fatherless society, a world without standards in that point.  And there he is, such a man, who does not allow himself to be corrupted and quite openly expresses-­especially during concerts--, what is happening inside him, and that is naturally a deeply moving vision. Listeners and performers can still experience music with him as a ‘revelation’.”(76)

 

(“Es kann keine Rede davon sein, daß der Maestro frauenfeindlich eingestellt ware.”

   

“Sergiu Celibidache ist ein außerordentlicher Europäer, so eindrucksvoll, weil in ihm eine unverstellt maskuline Strahlung zum Ausdruck kommt, die nicht korrumpierbar ist.  Und dieses hat die Welt sehr notig, denn wir leben in einer vaterlosen Gesellschaft, einer Welt ohne Maßstabe in diesem Punkt.  Und da ist ein solcher Mann, der sich nicht korrumpieren laßt und der ganz offen zum Ausdruck bringt - gerade wahrend des Konzertes -, was in ihm vorgeht, natürlich eine tiefbewegende Erscheinung.  Zuhörer und Auführende konnen mit ihm Musik noch als Offenbarung erleben.”)

 

These statements about the “necessity” of an “incorruptible masculine aura” in a “fatherless society”, and of Mr. Celibidache’s work being a “revelation” were published by the cultural ministry of Munich.  There was no explanation or apology for his many sexist statements.  And there was no explanation for why Ms. Conant was placed in a lower pay group than all 15 of her male solo-wind colleagues.

 

Ms. Conant released the union lawyer because he failed to write the seniority briefs, and because he works closely with the orchestra chairmen.  Also, the lawyer working with the union in her earlier trials did not write, nor advise her to write, the necessary letters to counter a statute of limitations, causing her to permanently lose about 40,000 DM ($30,000) in back pay.(77)

 

She used her private legal insurance to obtain a lawyer specializing in sexual discrimination, and appealed the part of the decision concerning seniority.  The city appealed the entire decision, and tried to keep her in the lower pay group than all 15 of her male colleagues.(78)

 

On February 5, 1992 Ms. Conant’s husband wrote to Frau Schreyögg of the city’s Women’s Equal Treatment Office and asked her to state a position about the city’s appeal.  She did not answer.  The Green Party Vice Mayor, Sabine Csampai, also did not answer any of the letters Ms. Conant sent to her.  Lord Mayor Kronawitter’s excuses for not intervening “in a pending case” were now completely gone.  He was appealing to keep her in a lower pay group than all 15 of her male solo-wind colleagues.

 

 

“You Are Ordered To Play Assistant. No Discussion.”

 

 It had been four years since Ms. Conant regained her position, and had not resigned.  The pressure through discriminatory work assignments was increased.  During the Asian tour of October 1992 a stage manager told her she was assigned to play assistant first.  She asked if someone was sick.  He said no.  A solo-horn, Eric Terwilliger, who was standing nearby said, “Don’t do it.  None of us have to, why should you?”  Ms. Conant told the stage manager she wouldn’t play.

 

Later, orchestra chairman Deinhardt Goritski and the orchestra’s highest administrator, Mr. Norbert Thomas, walked up to Ms. Conant.  Mr. Thomas said harshly, “You are ordered to play assistant.  You must immediately go on the stage.  No discussion.”  Ms. Conant said, “I don’t want to discuss it either”, and left.

 

Mr. Thomas decided to fire her, and send her back to Munich. He wrote the letter and delivered it to an orchestra chairman for his dual signature.  The chairman, feeling the situation could produce problems, telephoned the union, which said there was no just cause for a dismissal.  The chairman refused to sign.(79)

 

In the following months, in an attempt to force her resignation she received several orders to play second or assistant, and then registered mail threats that “steps” were being taken after her refusal to play lower positions.(80)

 

 

“Up To 15 Years In Prison”

 

 The personnel manager of the city of Munich, Herr Dr. Hans Joachim Freiling, was subpoenaed by the court to appear at the appeal hearing on October 21, 1992.  Judge Schmidt told him, “The matter can only be settled if you tell the truth.” He warned him that he could receive up to fifteen years in prison for false statements to the court.(81)  It didn’t seem to be a routine warning.

 

He asked Dr. Freiling, “Are there other solo-winds in Ms. Conant’s pay group?”  Dr. Freiling admitted that there weren’t.  He also had to admit that in 1987 all the solo­-winds were placed in the highest seniority grouping, in order to obtain parity with the Bavarian State Radio Orchestra.(82)

 

In contrast to the union, Ms. Conant’s new lawyer required the city to present the evaluations giving all of Conant’s male colleagues the higher seniority grouping in 1987.(83)  They were insubstantial, similar to the short biographies in concert program notes.  The judge read aloud some excerpts, and said he was not impressed.  In the written judgment he pointed out that there is no difference between the credentials of Ms. Conant and her male colleagues.(84)

 

On March 10, 1993, thirteen years after she entered the orchestra with a blind audition, the court ruled that Ms. Conant be placed in the same pay and seniority group as all of her male solo-wind colleagues; but due to a statute of limitations with back pay only to September 1, 1988.(85)  In every issue they had broken the equal treatment laws.(86)

 

 

“At the Expense of the Capitol City of Munich”

 

 Five days after the appeal ruling Ms. Conant was summoned to a meeting in the City Hall, where on March 15, 1993, she and her lawyer met with representatives of the city personnel office; the administration of the orchestra; and as twelve years earlier when her demotion was announced, the bass trombonist Robert Meissner.(87)

 

They made threats to force her resignation, not knowing that she had already made plans to leave.  In September 1992 Ms. Conant had received a prestigious position as full tenured professor at the State Conservatory of Music in Trossingen. With benefits the position pays better than the solo-wind positions of the Philharmonic, and allows for her solo career.

 

They showed her newspaper clippings of her recent performances of “Miriam”--a music theater work dealing with her experiences in the orchestra--and said that in the future she would have to receive permission to play outside the Munich Philharmonic.  Ms. Conant told them that no one else in the orchestra was treated that way, and that censorship and harassment would make more problems for them.

 

They threatened that if she refused to play second or assistant she would be fired.  Her lawyer pointed out that it would be illegal, and that she would quickly re-obtain her position.

 

Finally, not knowing that she already planned to resign, they offered to meet with her lawyer and negotiate a settlement. Ms. Conant just smiled.  In parting, the representatives from the city and orchestra administration asked her not to take their actions personally, and shook her hand.  Ms. Conant also offered her hand to Mr. Meissner who refused to take it, stating, to the embarrassment of the other representatives, that he was not obligated to do so.

 

Her lawyer required them to pay a severance award; to refrain from assigning her any work except solo trombone; and to deliver the back pay by May 31, 1993.  And almost symbolically, it required them to free her from work “at the expense of the capital city of Munich”, so she could present “Miriam” as a featured soloist at the International Women’s Brass Conference in Saint Louis, Missouri.(88)

 

A review in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch dated May 31, 1993 records that the audience knew of Ms. Conant’s story, and that their reaction to her performance was “ecstatic.”(89) After the performance she received invitations to perform and speak at several important American universities.

 

In 1993 the personnel manager of the city of Munich was replaced, and all five orchestra chairmen did not run for re­election.  Ms. Conant was the only woman solo-brass player in a top German orchestra.  Now there are none.

 

But in her first year as Professor 40% of her class were very talented young women trombonists.  One of them won an important international competition and obtained a solo position in the Dortumd State Opera.  This article can’t touch upon how much Ms. Conant suffered, but she hopes her long and continuing struggle will help young women musicians to be treated as equal human beings.

 


 Footnotes.

 

1) Letter to Abbie Conant from the Munich Phil. dated May 22, 1980.

2) Heinz Höfl, “Aus dem Blech gefallen”, Der Spiegel, Nr. 44/45. Jahrgang, October 28, 1991.  Page 89.

3) Testimony from musicians of the Munich Philharmonic.

4) Hugo Magliocco, “A Special Endurance”, International Trombone Association Journal, Vol. 20 No. 2, Spring 1992, Page 28.

5) Personnel rosters of both orchestras.

6) Personnel rosters of the orchestra.

7) Personnel roster of the Munich Phil., see also Hannes Hintermaeier, “Celi will keine Frau an           der Posaune”, Abendzeitung München, October 29, 1991, p.16.

8) Tarifvertrag fur die Musiker in Kulturorchestern (TVK)  41.

9) Final Judgment, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 2 Ca.   7022/82,  April 12, 1984.

10) Final judgment, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 2 Ca. 7022/82,  April 12, 1984.

11) Beate Berger, “Frauen mussen freundlicher sein”, Frankfurter Rundschau am Wochenende, November 30, 1991, Page ZB 5., see also, Final judgement, Conant vs. LH Munchen, AGM 13 Ca 50/91, June 7, 1991, page 6.

12) A letter from Ms. Conant’s lawyer dated July 1, 1982 confirms he considered it a serious problem.  His report of December 17, 1982 to the Deutsche Orchestervereinigung about the meeting of December 15, 1982 with the city and orchestra confirms that it was in part this concern that prompted Ms. Conant to offer a compromise.

13) Letter from the administration of the Munich Philharmonic dated December 7, 1982.

14) Report to the Deutsche Orchestervereinigung by Conant’s lawyer dated December 17, 1982.

15) Letter from the the Orchestra to Conant dated December 27, 1982, and Conant’s written answer dated December 31, 1982.

16) Final judgment, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 2 Ca 7022/82, July 18, 1984.

17) Ibid.

18) Brief, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 2 Ca 7022/82, Febuary 3, 1983.

19) Medical report of the Zentralkrankenhauses Gauting of June 13, 1983 sent to the Arbeitsgericht München, Conant vs. LH München Aktz: 2 Ca 7022/82 Ziff. IV 1 Nr. 1 u. 2.

20) Final judgment, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 2 Ca. 7022/82, April 12, 1984.

21) Brief, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 2 Ca 7022/82, May 20, 1983.

22)Judgment, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz. Ca 2 7022/82, June 16, 1983.

23) Final judgement, Conant vs. LH München Aktz. Ca 2 7022/82, April 12, 1984.

24) Marianne Reißinger, “Vorletzter Akt im Celibidache-Drama?” Abendzeitung München, November 14, 1984, p.7.

25) On October 22, 1991 I requested the Lord Mayor of Munich to ask Mr. Celibidache to retract his statement. The Mayor refused.

26) Letter from members of the Munich Philharmonic to the administration dated June 24, 1991.

27) Confirmed in a letter by witness Beth Woodside to the author dated January 15,   1991.

28) Hans Richard Stracke, “Kritiker sind Flaschen mit Sauerkraut-Ohren”, Abendzeitung Munchen, November 10, 1984.

29) LH München vs. Conant Aktz: 5 Sa 639/84, September 17, 1984. 30) Letter from Yoav Talmi dated November 17, 1981.

31) Judgment LH München vs. Conant, LAG Aktz: Sa 639/84, March 6, 1985.

32) ibid.

33) Brief, LH München vs. Conant, LAG Aktz: 5 Sa 639/84, May 15, 1985.

34) Brief, LH München vs. Conant LAG Aktz: 5 Sa 639/84, May 21, 1985.

35) Letter of Prof. Schreckenburger March 3, 1986.

36) Letter of Prof. Schreckenburger April 22, 1986.

37) Brief, LH München vs. Conant, LAG Aktz: 5 Sa 639/84.

38) Letter of Prof. Schreckenburger June 1, 1986.  LH München vs. Conant Aktz: 5 Sa 639/84.

39) Breif, LH München vs. Conant, LAG Aktz: 5 Sa 639/84. May lS, 1987.

40) Written notice given to Abbie Conant by the Munich Philharmonic dated May 21, 1987.

41) Letter of Prof. Schreckenburger dated July 2, 1987.

42) LH München vs. Conant, LAG Aktz: 5 Sa 639/84, December 14, 1987.

43) Letter of Prof. Michael Stern, December 20, 1987.

44) Report of Prof. Fadle February 27, 1988 for LH München vs. Conant, LAG Aktz: 5 Sa 639/84.

45) ibid.

46) Final judgment, LH München vs. Conant, LAG Aktz: 5 Sa 639/84, August 13, 1990.

47) Protocall, AGM Aktz: 13 Ca 14072/88, January 11, 1989.

48) Letter from LH München to Conant’s lawyer dated September 15, 1988.

49) A letter from Conant’s lawyer to the LH München dated September 8, 1988 made it clear there was no chance of an appeal to the federal court.

50) Letter from LH München to the Deutsche Orchestervereinigung dated July 4, 1990; and final judgement Arbeitsgericht München Conant vs. LH München Aktz: 13 Ca 50/91, June 24, 1991.

51) Letter from orchestra chairman Wolfgang Stingl to Abbie Conant dated December 3, 1991.

52) Protocall, Conant vs. LH München LAG Aktz: 2 (1) Sa 437/91, October 21, 1992.

53) Vergutungstabellen fur Musiker der Munchen Philharmoniker, 11. Tarifvertrag of August 24, 1992.

54) Tarifvertrag fur die Musikern in Kulturochestern §22; and Brief to the Arbeitsgerichts            München from the Deutsche Orchestervereinigung dated December 21, 1990.

55) The orders to play second trombone and assistant first were often given verbally, but are also confirmed in various letters from the LH München to Conant.  Some examples are dated Febuary 21, 1989, and April 5, 1990, and continue as late as February 9, 1993, March 1, 1993, and March 9, 1993.

56) A detailed explanation of the discriminatory treatment is given in a letter from her lawyer to the LH München dated Febuary 25, 1993.

57) This is made clear in her letter to the Gleichstellungsstelle fur Frauen dated July 12, 1990, and a letter from her husband to the Lord Mayor dated January 31, 1991.

58) Final Judgement, Conant vs. LH München, LAG Aktz: 13 Ca 50/91, June 24, 1991.

59) Brief, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 13 Ca 14072/88, August 29, 1990

60) Mr. Schmidt typed a letter with the proposals dated May 2, 1989. It was signed by all three solo-trombonists.  A written statement signed by Mr. Bovin confirms he delivered it the Munich Philharmonic.

61) Hugo Magliocco, “A Special Endurance”, International Trombone Association Journal, Vol. 20 No. 2 Spring 1992, page 24.

62) Heinz Hofl, “Aus dem Blech gefallen”, Der Spiegel, Nr. 44/45.

           Jahrgang October 28, 1991, page 93.

63 ) They were the testimonials used in court in 1983, Brief, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 2 Ca 7022/82, May 20, 1983.

64) Letter from the Deutsche Orchester Vereinigung to the LH München dated December 11,   1990.

65) Brief, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 13 Ca 50/91, January 23, 1991.

66) Ibid.

67) The equal rights office discussed it with him in the summer of 1990, and the first trial wasn’t until January 23, 1991. Ms. Conant’s first letters of complaint were sent to the Munich Philharmonic and relayed to the Cultural Ministry and the Personnel ministry a full year before the trials started. On December 11, 1990 Ms. Conant’s lawyer wrote a letter warning the city that due to a statute of limitations he must soon reopen the case if they did not respond.

68) Brief, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz. 1 Sa 437/91, April 22, 1991.

69) Brief, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 13 Ca 15/91, May 13, 1991

70) Heinz Hofl, “Aus dem Blech gefallen”, Der Spiegel, Nr. 24/45. Jahrgang, October 28, 1991, page 93.

71) Final judgment, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 13 Ca 50/91, June 24, 1991, page 11.

72) Ibid. pages 17 and 18.

73) Letter from the personnel committee of the Munich Philharmonic to Conant dated December 3, 1991 and signed by orchestra chairman Wolfgang Stingl.

74) Heinz Hofl, “Aus dem Blech gefallen”, Der Spiegel, Nr. 44/45 Jahrgang, October 28, 1991,               page 93.

75) It was the cover story of three publications: The International Trombone Association Journal, The Trombonist (Journal of the British Trombone Society), and Frau und Musik (of the Internationaler Arbeitskreis e.V.).  Major articles were also in the Frankfurter Rundschau, Vrij Nederland (one the largest magazines in Holland), Munich Found (an english language monthly in Munich), München Journal, Tonfallet (a highly regarded Swedish magazine), Musik + Theater (a Swiss publication), Abendzeitung München, Badische Zeitung, Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, Die Rheinpfalz, The St. Louis Post­Dispatch, as well as large article in The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.  There were also detailed radio broadcasts by the Sudwest Rundfunk, the Bayerischer Rundfunk, and a twenty minute interview and report on National Public Radio in the USA.  In 1995 a 90 minute documentary film based on her story was produced by the German State Television network 3SAT and was given two national broadcasts.

76) Jorg Eggebrecht, “Reise ins Herz”, Philharmonishe Blatter 91/92 Jahrgang 7, Heft    6, Febuary/March 1992, p.14.

77) Confirmed in letters to Ms. Conant from the Deutsche Orchestervereinigung dated December 20, 1988 and February 15, 1991.  For this reason pay group IV could       retroactively to all of her male colleagues.

78) Brief, Conant vs. LH München, AGM Aktz: 1 Sa 437/91, October 30, 1991.

79) The orchestra chairman who informed Conant of these details wishes to remain anonymous.

80) Letters from LH München/Munich Philharmonic to Conant dated Febuary 9, 1993; March l, 1993; and March 9, 1993.

81) Protocol, Conant vs. LH München, LAG Aktz: 2 (l) Sa 437/91, October 21. 1992, Paqe 2.

82) Ibid. pages 2-6.  The information is also confirmed in a written decision of the city council (Beschluß des Personalausschusses) dated Febuary 10, 1987.

83) They are presented in a letter from the orchestra chairmen of the Munich Philharmonic to the Personal manager of the LH München dated December 10, 1986.

84) Final judgment, Conant vs. LH München, Aktz: 2(1) Sa 437/91.

85) Judgment, Conant vs. LH München, Aktz: 2 (1) Sa 437/91, March 10, 1993.

86) ibid. 

87) Letter from LH München to Conant dated March 1, 1993.

88) Severance contract between Abbie Conant and the LH München April 2, 1993.  In Germany there are no laws granting damages to the victims of racial or sexual discrimination.

89) James Wierzbicki, “A Piercing Excerpt From ‘Miriam’”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 31, 1993, Page 5A.

 

 

 

An Overview of the Key Events With Dates

 

The Trials To Re-Obtain Her Position

 

June 19, 1980:  Abbie Conant won the audition for solo trombone of the Munich Philharmonic.  Her invitation was addressed to a Herr Abbie Conant.  The first round was behind a screen and they didn’t know she was a woman.  She defeated her 32 male opponents. Never again has a screen been used for a Philharmonic audition.

 

September 1982:  Celibidache demoted Conant to second trombone.  No unusual criticisms of her had been made in any rehearsals, nor had she received a legally required written warning.

 

November 11, 1982:  Conant, hoping to work out a compromise, asked GMD Celibidache why she was being demoted.  He said:

 

“You know the problem, we need a man for the solo trombone.”

 

March 29, 1984:  After three hearings spanning a three year period Conant won a court case to re-obtain her position, because they couldn’t establish a viable criticism.  The city appealed. Conant had to continue playing second until the appeal was over.

 

September 1988:  Eight years after joining the orchestra Conant won the appeal and regained her position.  She played for a court appointed specialist (Prof. Heinz Fadle of the Detmold Hochschule and former President of the Internationale Posaunen Vereinigung). All was tape recorded and witnessed by a city representative. After extremely rigorous testing he declared that she was fully qualified to play solo trombone in the Munich Philharmonic.

 

The Trials For Equal Pay

 

August 14, 1990:  After winning, Conant was put in a lower pay group than all 15 of her male solo-wind colleagues. They make up to 1100. DM/mo. more than she does.

 

July 7, 1990:  In response to her request for equal pay the city’s Equal Rights Office said they would need “supernatural powers to change an old self-contented patriarch like Celibidache” and recommended she “wait until a newer woman- friendly conductor takes over the rudder.”

 

November 5, 1990:  Conant met with the city personnel office and the administration of the Munich Philharmonic to request equal pay with all 15 of her male colleagues.  Both offices refused.

 

March 14, 1991:  Mayor Kronawitter, informed by letter of the discrimination, wrote and refused to intervene to put her in the same pay group as her 15 male colleagues.

 

June 7, 1991:  Conant won a trial against the city of Munich (her employer) to be put in the same pay group because they broke the equal rights law.  The city appealed to try and keep her in the lower pay group than all her 15 male solo wind colleagues.

 

March 10, 1993: Conant won the appeal, and after 13 years was put in the same pay group, and with the same seniority as her male colleagues with the same status.

 

 

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