Vienna Philharmonic Hires Its First Asian Musician
first time in its history the Vienna Philharmonic has hired
a person of color -- a Japanese tubist named
Yasuto Sugiyama. The Philharmonic has traditionally forbade membership to
people of color because the orchestra felt such individuals would destroy the ensemble's image of Austrian
more information about the orchestra's employment practices see the articles
section of our website. The orchestra's policy of excluding people of color was especially
directed at Asian musicians since many of the highest quality have studied
in Austria and continue to live there.
The article below from the Mainichi Daily News provides
more information about the Japanese tubist.
Mainichi Daily News
Tubaist is first Japanese to make Vienna Philharmonic
June 25, 2003
A tubaist will play for the Vienna Philharmonic as the first Japanese to do so after having his skills recognized in an audition for the world-renowned orchestra, the Mainichi has learned.
Yasuto Sugiyama, 35, a member of the New Japan Philharmonic, said that he was proud to be able to play for the Vienna Philharmonic after winning the final audition to become a full-time member of one of the top orchestras in the world.
"I underwent the audition thinking that it was natural that I would be screened out," said Sugiyama. "Now I'm looking forward to play for one of the world's top orchestras."
Sugiyama's admission will probably send shockwaves through classical music circles in Austria and the rest of the world, because the orchestra has previously hired mainly Austrian and German male players, with only a few exceptions.
An unnamed Japanese cellist once passed an audition to the Vienna Philharmonic without giving nationality, but was rejected the moment he or she was identified.
Sugiyama's passage to Vienna began when he played Gustav Mahler's symphony no. 2 with a trombonist from the Vienna Philharmonic for Japan's Saito Kinen Orchestra under conductor Seiji Ozawa.
The Austrian trombonist recognized Sugiyama's exceptional skill, which led to the tubaist auditioning with seven Austrians and Germans for the Vienna orchestra earlier this year.
The Vienna Philharmonic decided to admit only Sugiyama after the final audition on June 20, sources said.
Sugiyama, who will began his fresh career in Vienna in December, will officially become a tubaist for the Vienna Philharmonic after playing for the Vienna State Opera for one year.
Since its inception in 1842, the Vienna Philharmonic has always been one of the world's top classical music orchestras, playing under such great conductors as Wilhelm Furtvangler and Herbert von Karajan.
Players belonging to the Vienna State Opera run the orchestra independently. (Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, June 25, 2003)