Yuri Temirkanov
Photo: IMG Artists

Recently, Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko offended many people when he was quoted by the Norwegian daily ‘Aftenposten’ saying orchestras react better to men than to women. In ‘The New Yorker’, Alex Ross quoted another Russian conductor, Yuri Temirkanov who is not about to accept women as orchestra conductors. Read what Ross has to tell us:

« Recently, I came across an interview that the conductor Yuri Temirkanov -the longtime music director of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and, as it happens, Alsop’s predecessor at the Baltimore Symphony – gave last year to the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta. A formidable figure in Russian music, Temirkanov served as a mentor both to Gergiev and later to Petrenko. The interviewer, the Paris-based pianist and composer Elena Gantchikova, deserves credit for grilling him. A Russian-speaking friend provided this translation:

Q.: In your opinion, could a woman conduct?

A.: In my view, no.

Q.: Why not?!

A.: I don’t know if it’s God’s will, or nature’s, that women give birth and men do not. That’s something that no one takes offense at. But if you say that a women can’t conduct, then everyone’s offended. As Marx said, in response to the question “What’s your favorite virtue in a woman?”—“Weakness.” And this is correct. The important thing is, a woman should be beautiful, likable, attractive. Musicians will look at her and be distracted from the music!

Q.: Why? There are women in the orchestra; people indifferent to a women’s charms. Besides, how many times would you be enraptured by appearances? After all, it’s something you tire of, and switch to the heart of the question. Statistically, of course, there are women conductors.

A.: Yes, they do exist.

Q.: Nevertheless, you maintain that these are less than women, or less than conductors.

A.: No, simply that in my opinion, it’s counter to nature.

Q.: And what is it in the conductor’s profession that runs counter to a woman’s nature? That’s counter to the essence of the conductor’s profession?

A.: The essence of the conductor’s profession is strength. The essence of a woman is weakness. »

Flabbergasting, isn’t it?

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