Tina LaPorta on Tue, 16 Feb 1999 01:51:14 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> FWD: Volksoper press release

>Herrn Heinrich Gattermeyer, President
>Oesterreichische Komponistenbund
>Baumannstrasse 8-10
>1031 Wien
>February 3, 1999
>Dear Herr Gattermeyer:
>With this letter I am terminating, as a matter of conscience, my
>membership in >the Oesterreichische Komponistenbund. However, I feel the
>issues raised here >should also be open to public discussion, since the
>Komponistenbund is largely >supported by public funds. Therefore I am
>submitting my resignation as an open >letter which will be circulated over
>the Internet, sent to professional music >organizations in many countries,
>and to important persons in Austrian public >life.
>As you will remember from my earlier short article published in 1996,
>"Austria >Celebrates its Millennium Without Women," the Oesterreichische
>Komponistenbund >celebrated Austria's 1996 Millennium with a series of
>concerts on which no >music by women composers was included. Despite your
>subsequent vehement >expressions of good will toward women composers after
>the publication of my >article, I know of no music by women which has
>since been programmed on any >concert in Vienna sponsored by the
>Oesterreichische Komponistenbund. Moreover, >I know of no plans by the OKB
>to celebrate the forthcoming world Millennium >with performances of music
>by Austrian woman composers.
>The OKB, with more than 500 members, is Austria's largest composers'
>>organization. Its behavior toward all composers, regardless of gender,
>should >be exemplary. Under your leadership, however, it has continued,
>along with the >Vienna Philharmonic, to compromise Austria's centuries-old
>reputation as a >fountainhead of artistic excellence and creativity
>through its exclusionary and >discriminatory policies toward women.
>In your letter to me of 12 November 1997 responding to my longer article
>>presented at the Innsbruck UNESCO Conference of September 1997, "Ein
>Millennium >ohne Frauen: zur heutigen Situation der Komponistinnen in
>Oesterreich", (A >Millennium Without Women: On the Present Situation of
>Austrian Women >Composers), you mentioned your dedication to helping
>Austrian women musicians >through your efforts as Vice-President of the
>First Women's Chamber Orchestra >of Austria. What the recent activities of
>the orchestra reveal, however, is >that your own music has been programmed
>by the orchestra, but the number of >performances of music by women
>composers has actually declined.
>Austria remains one of only a few nations in the entire world in which to
>the >best of my knowledge no woman teaches music composition in any public
>>institution. As far as I have been able to ascertain, no woman has ever
>taught >composition in the entire history of the nation in any of the
>conservatories or >Musikhochschulen. I would be pleased, however, to learn
>that I am mistaken in >either or both of the foregoing assertions.
>Although your letter to me also >mentioned that you instructed many women
>composition students during your years >at the Musikhochule, I see no
>evidence that you helped bring any women onto the >composition faculty.
>The February 1997 tour of the Vienna Philharmonic to the USA called
>worldwide >attention to the orchestra's discriminatory policies,
>particularly with respect >to women. Although there was later some token
>change through the granting of a >contract to Anna Lelkes, the orchestra
>seems since to have resumed its rigidly >exclusionary policies. It has
>again attracted international attention by >refusing to allow Gertrude
>Rossbacher, a native-born Viennese, graduate of the >Vienna
>Musikhochschule and for the last ten years a violist with the Berlin
>>Philharmonic, even to audition for a viola position in the Vienna
>Philharmonic, >a position subsequently given to a male second violinist
>already with the >orchestra.
>Women's music organizations and women musicians worldwide are now linked
>by the >Internet and are immediately aware of instances such as the one
>involving Ms. >Rossbacher. I know of plans now being made to demonstrate
>near Austrian >Cultural Institutes in several countries. A particularly
>large demonstration is >planned for the opening of the new building of the
>Cultural Institute in New >York City. The importing of an almost
>exclusively white male culture from >Austria to the USA in the form of
>those programs of Austrian music presented at >the Cultural Institute in
>New York City is unfortunately offensive to many >American musicians,
>especially women and persons of color.
>Since my 1997 UNESCO article, "Ein Millennium ohne Frauen: zur heutigen
>>Situation der Komponistinnen in Oesterreich," there seem to have been
>some >vague attempts at political correctness by one or two local music
>organizations >and juries which provide grants and awards to composers.
>These have included >support for young women composers who have no
>established credentials whatever. >While it might seem a step forward to
>assist women composers at the start of >their careers, those of us
>experienced in the dynamics of social change for >women know all too well
>that as soon as these young women attain any >professional success at all,
>they will again be excluded by the entrenched >(male) interests. They are
>being assisted at this stage in their careers only >because they are no
>threat to their male colleagues. This pretense of equal >opportunity for
>women composers is a charade, an attempt only to reduce the >appearance of
>overt discrimination in the allocating of benefits to composers.
>The presence of women on music juries in Austria at this time is also no
>more >than a fig leaf. In professions from which women have been largely
>excluded, >those few who have attained any acceptance at all will almost
>always vote to >maintain the status quo in order to preserve their own
>perceived advantage. >Again, those of us experienced in the dynamics of
>social change for women know >very well that at the beginning of such
>change, women jurors may in general be >more hostile to women applicants
>than many male jurors.
>When I founded the International League of Women Composers in 1975, this
>in >effect also began the worldwide women-in-music movement. Now, almost
>>twenty-five years later, I would prefer to spend more time composing and
>less >trying to effect change for women composers. However, the steadfast
>refusal of >organizations such as the Oesterreichische Komponistenbund to
>greet the opening >of the Third Millennium with even the slightest pretext
>of increased equality >for its women members, compels me to speak out on
>the matter. I cannot in good >conscience remain silent. Nor do I wish to
>further compromise my own integrity >as an advocate for women composers by
>remaining a member of the >Oesterreichische Komponistenverband.
>Your sincerely,
>Nancy Van de Vate
>Check out VMM's web site at <http://www.xs4all.nl/~gdv/vmm
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