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 Post subject: Why are the Vienna Philharmonic so good?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:56 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:35 am
Posts: 176
Location: Cambridgeshire
What is it about the Vienna Philharmonic that makes the orchestra sound so good? The orchestra's sound in Brahms 4 on Radio Three from the Proms was special, in my opinion. Strings and horns superb, the piccolo was sharp but the overall sound was just very good. It must be something to do with the almost complete lack of women in the orchestra.


Rainer Küchl
Rainer Honeck
Volkhard Steude
Albena Danailova*

First Violin
Eckhard Seifert
Hubert Kroisamer
Josef Hell
Jun Keller
Daniel Froschauer
Herbert Linke
Günter Seifert
Wolfgang Brand
Clemens Hellsberg
Erich Schagerl
Bernhard Biberauer
Martin Kubik
Milan Ŝetena
Martin Zalodek
Kirill Kobantchenko
Wilfried Hedenborg
Johannes Tomböck
Pavel Kuzmichev
Isabelle Ballot
Andreas Großbauer
Olesya Kurylak*
Ondrej Janoska*

Second Violin
Raimund Lissy
Tibor Kovác
Gerald Schubert
René Staar
Helmut Zehetner
Alfons Egger
George Fritthum
Alexander Steinberger
Harald Krumpöck
Michal Kostka
Benedict Lea
Marian Lesko
Tomas Vinklat
Johannes Kostner
Martin Klimek
Yefgen Andrusenko
Shkelzen Doli
Dominik Hellsberg
Holger Groh
Maxim Brilinsky*

Heinrich Koll
Tobias Lea
Christian Frohn
Wolf-Dieter Rath
Robert Bauerstatter
Gerhard Marschner
Gottfried Martin
Hans P. Ochsenhofer
Mario Karwan
Martin Lemberg
Elmar Landerer
Innokenti Grabko
Michael Strasser
Ursula Plaichinger
Thilo Fechner
Thomas Hajek
Daniela Ivanova*

Franz Bartolomey
Tamás Varga
Robert Nagy
Friedrich Dolezal
Raphael Flieder
Csaba Bornemisza
Jörgen Fog
Gerhard Iberer
Wolfgang Härtel
Ursula Wex*
Eckart Schwarz-Schulz
Sebastian Bru*
Stefan Gartmayer*
Stephan Koncz*

Herbert Mayr
Christoph Wimmer
Ödön Rácz
Wolfgang Gürtler
Jerzy (Jurek) Dybal
Alexander Matschinegg
Georg Straka
Michael Bladerer
Bartosz Sikorski
Jan-Georg Leser
Jedrzej Gorski* Harp
Xavier de Maistre
Charlotte Balzereit

Wolfgang Schulz
Dieter Flury
Walter Auer
Günter Federsel
Günter Voglmayr
Wolfgang Breinschmid

Martin Gabriel
Clemens Horak
Harald Hörth
Alexander Öhlberger

Peter Schmidl
Ernst Ottensamer
Norbert Täubl
Johann Hindler
Andreas Wieser
Matthias Schorn*

Michael Werba
Stepan Turnovsky
Harald Müller
Reinhard Öhlberger
Wolfgang Koblitz
Benedikt Dinkhauser

■Manuel Huber *, - Solo (1.) / 3.
■Thomas Jöbstl, - Solo (1.) / 3.
■Ronald Janezic, - Solo (2.)
■Lars Michael Stransky, - Solo (3.)
■Wolfgang Vladar, - high
■Sebastian Mayr, - low
■Wolfgang Lintner, - low
■Wolfgang Tomböck (jun.), - low
■Jan Jankovic *, - low

Hans Peter Schuh
Gotthard Eder
Martin Mühlfellner
Reinhold Ambros
Stefan Haimel

Dietmar Küblböck
Ian Bousfield
Gabriel Madas
Karl Jeitler
Johann Ströcker
Jeremy Wilson*
Mark Gaal*

Paul Halwax
Christoph Gigler*

Bruno Hartl
Anton Mittermayr
Klaus Zauner
Oliver Madas
Benjamin Schmidinger
Thomas Lechner*
Erwin Falk*

 Post subject: Re: Why are the Vienna Philharmonic so good?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:03 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:42 pm
Posts: 101
Location: Wellington NZ
You are probably right but we won't get any thanks from the female members of this forum (are there any?) :roll:
What do the asterisks mean?

 Post subject: Re: Why are the Vienna Philharmonic so good?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:44 am 

Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:08 pm
Posts: 8
It means they are Gallic - Asterisk the Gaul !!!

Sorry, a bit lame that one.

 Post subject: Re: Why are the Vienna Philharmonic so good?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:48 pm 

Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2008 8:24 pm
Posts: 8
The asterix denotes someone playing with the orchestra who is still on probation and not technically a member (yet). I think UK orchestras do something similar for "target" or "due for retirement"?

The concert mistress Miss Danailova is too new in the orchestra to become a member yet for example so has an asterix.

Please remember the member of the Philharmoniker are drawn from the ranks of the State Opera (a far larger orchestral pool of players). It is like a club and is legally still a Verein i.e. Club with self government by the players, no fixed chief conductor (glee). It is not an orchestra like the LSO or NYP, get a job at the Vienna Opera you might become Philharmoniker.

If you suffer from boredom or have a life don't read on...

Some months back when the State Opera hired Miss Danailova (before that she was at the Munich Opera), the magazine "Musical America" wrote some comments about the VPO having a female concert mistress.

This stuff is all quite stupid these days. If you can hear the difference in playing on the radio then musical "dialect" i.e. style is an issue when selecting players at auditions. If the percentage of female applicants is lower then the odds are..? The historical tradition of the VPO is in never being able to say anything quickly and poignantly on the subject, they are musicians primarily and not PR people, some probably even don't like women, some don't give it much thought as the job is enough of a worry. Austrians, like many other nationalities have been famous for other nowadays not so accepted traditions, so why not accept change? or shall the BBC now start every Proms interview with "you are a member of the Austrian Nation, are you still a Nazi"?

in any case, if you want to be bored shitless by inane diatribe then here is my response to Musical America's somewhat sexist prejudicial article.

Dear Publisher,

I have read a recent report from Musical America that seems to be incorrect. I refer to the article from May 9th 2008 that is entitled "Staatsoper Taps Woman Concertmaster" by Susan Elliot.

There are many implications contained in this article as well as statements that could do with some clarification. They are as follows:

You state that "Thursday, May 8, 2008 may go down in history as a major milestone in classical music". I presume that this refers to the employment of a specifically female concert master in the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. I believe the fact that the candidate is female is at this stage in the operations of that orchestra a little less than of historical relevance. Practically every evening in the State Opera there are now members of the female gender playing as part of this ensemble. As and when contractual vacancies become available, nowadays, these may or may not be filled by female or male players. The gender aspects have ceased to be of such perceived gravity some time ago. In any case the usage of the word "may" is welcome as the event is hardly historic in musical terms.

Next come the words "The Wiener Staatsoper, most of whose orchestra members comprise the Vienna Philharmonic". This can mislead; the Vienna Philharmonic players are drawn from the much larger Vienna Staatsopernorchester and not the other way around. The Staatsoper represents, simply put, what could be explained as the "day job" of people working at the State Opera Orchestra; the Philharmonic is a "Club", literally and contractually, of which members of the State Opera Orchestra can apply to become members.

Then "appointed a woman as its concertmaster". This should read "appointed a woman as one of its concertmasters". There are four - Rainer Küchl, Werner Hink, Rainer Honeck, and Volkhard Steude - all listed as Konzertmeister in the Philharmoniker currently and of course they hold these positions in the State Opera Orchestra also. It is furthermore I would think, a contractual decision as to whether a new member of the orchestra may have a permanent tenured position after a shorter contractual period, and not really a "custom" as put in the article.

Two reasons are given in the article for the significance of the appointment of Ms. Danailova: "One, she is the first woman to have the post at the Staatsoper" - and I hope this is not all that is of musical interest; if and when another female should be appointed to any further position in that orchestra, when will this cease to be of such great significance? The next reason for significance - "In her new job she will oversee a core of instrumentalists -- the Vienna Philharmonic -- that has long deemed women musicians to be inferior to men" - caused me to look closer at this article. This statement should be looked at carefully by your management and I would appreciate a statement from yourselves that qualifies this. This article is written, I presume, in the mother tongue of the author, who I presume also is someone of intelligence sufficient to recognise the voice of an undesirable minority in any organisation as not wholly representative of a majority. To put it bluntly, the article states a bland, uneducated, unqualified opinion that is frankly as insulting as saying "Americans, because of the results shown in the elections, are in favor of the war in Iraq".

The generalisations are abundant. Ms. Danailova will be one of probably four concert masters who all do a job in the orchestra leading (!) and certainly not overseeing, in the dictionary sense of supervising the Vienna Philharmonic.

It goes on. When it is stated that "The Philharmonic has only recently invited women to audition, and only one, a harpist, has made the cut permanently". Can I ask please two things? What sort of vocabulary is "made the cut" with reference to the highly trained and artistic job of an orchestral musician? Also, please define "recent" when it comes to job applications. I heard speak of applications from females in 1979, and wasn't particularly listening.

Again, it is written: "In fact, the Philharmonic views the Staatsoper as its training orchestra". This is probably fiction, I doubt if the Philharmonic has a view of itself in another role at the Staatsoper as anything like that. One doesn't cease to be a member of the Staatsoper Orchestra when one is accepted into the Philharmonic. A player cannot be solely Philharmonic, as far as I understand it. The Staatsoper Orchestra is thus a resource from which the Philharmoniker draw their own members. Even non-Philharmonic members get to play with the Philharmonic; no less that eight female orchestra members played the London Proms Bruckner Eighth with Maestro Eschenbach last year.

Then there is an interesting quotation from the Philharmonic website: "Before joining the Philharmonic ... one must first successfully audition for a position with the State Opera Orchestra and prove oneself capable over a period of three years before becoming eligible to submit an application for membership in the association of the Vienna Philharmonic." That is actually quite interesting; it shows someone cares about the calibre of players but the translation from the original German language site is sometimes possibly misleading. They state "association" as the translation of the term "Verein". I translate this generally as "club" although that term is slightly less professional and more recreational in character, as the famous Musikverein concert hall in Vienna is the building of the "Music Club" - i.e. Music Society in Vienna, a place where this club organised their concerts, the Philharmonic is a framework, a club, a society organised for concerts outside of the work of orchestral members of the State Opera Orchestra. This differs from practically all international orchestral business models, and is not generally understood. If your publication could start an understanding of this, it would help remove a few misconceptions and maybe rebalance a few complaints some may have.

The article continues with the usual prejudicial statements: "In addition to being virtually all-male, the Philharmonic is also all European". You should be aware that this fluctuates. The Americans in the orchestra come and go - one example was Bob Tucci - as do other nationalities. The climate is changing within the orchestra as it is worldwide. There used to be complaints that the orchestra was all Austrian. Now the complaints are that it's all European, it seems. This just shows slight ignorance about geography, I suppose. But my main concern is: Is it really desirable to have a completely homogenous orchestral sound the world over? This may please only those who can't hear the difference. One of the discerning factors in a different style of playing is a different schooling!

The comment "One player actually told me, without hesitation, that Asians are incapable of producing the 'Vienna Philharmonic sound' is another example where you should really know better.

There is the word "Klangstil" - literally sound-style - in German. In Vienna there is a scientific institute at the University that deals specifically with "Wiener Klangstil"; they even have a website. With many people not hearing the difference between instruments, let alone specific styles of playing, there is only one slant to be put on such a comment about race, is there?

There is a difference in style, the use of vibrato for example; with the horns, oboes, percussion, even a difference in instruments to those in use in other orchestras!

Some Asians (without studying in Vienna maybe) are incapable of playing in a stylistic manner akin to the Viennese, and vice versa. Try not to stir up the wrong implications. I know a Vienna Philharmonic horn player would very, very probably not get a job in the New York Philharmonic, purely because of style of playing and sound, so please don't expect the inverse to be suddenly a scandal. The phrasing of the alleged comment was unfortunate but at least the musician who allegedly said it had the courage to speak another language and to offer an opinion. I think most intelligent people will realise the context akin to "Americans can't speak Oxford English" rather than any racist slant you imply.

That Danailova will be the boss of this arrogant gang, when it is in its Staatsoper mode, is a delicious irony.

I think she was hired because of the way she plays, wasn't she? Calling one of the world's finest orchestral bodies an "arrogant gang" shows only the sad depths to which a supposedly serious periodical has sunk.

Bias and prejudice are a worldwide problem, so please don't promote the sexist anti-feminine problem where the playing qualifications for the job, as I think Ms. Danailova will agree, are very much the most important factor. I am sure Ms. Danailova will want to be celebrated as a musician and not merely because she is a woman.

Such articles as this one by Miss Elliot show a serious lack of knowledge and understanding not only about the subject that Musical America is presumed to be covering, but also in the basics of common sense, let alone the correct usage of English vocabulary.

I didn't get a reply :-)

 Post subject: Re: Why are the Vienna Philharmonic so good?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:05 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:38 am
Posts: 313
Location: Birmingham
You tell'em, Fritz!

 Post subject: Re: Why are the Vienna Philharmonic so good?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:55 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:57 pm
Posts: 221
Location: USA, San Diego, California
Excellent !!
I was a victim of the misleading media. So glad to see such a complete diatribe on the topic. I am surprised you got no response, - - - but then again, perhaps I am not surprised.

 Post subject: Re: Why are the Vienna Philharmonic so good?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:41 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:44 am
Posts: 15
Food, wine and beer, I suspect.

 Post subject: Re: Why are the Vienna Philharmonic so good?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 3:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:00 pm
Posts: 256
BBC are broadcasting a concert with them playing tonight, Valery Gergiev conducting. It's BBC4 at 7:35. Should be good!

 Post subject: Re: Why are the Vienna Philharmonic so good?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:46 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:38 pm
Posts: 256
Location: London
Amazing horn playing. Beethoven Symphony No.7 on F crook Vienna Horns

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXiKZ003kbo (1st Movement)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n47vLDG7 ... re=related (4th Movement)

Listen and learn (and throw away those descant horns)

 Post subject: Re: Why are the Vienna Philharmonic so good?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:05 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:44 pm
Posts: 234
Location: Beckenham, UK
It MUST be a spoof video ( or maybe a video of a different concert) because, if you look closely, the 1st horn is playing the top B's on the 1st valve!
How can that be?

“Besser zich tsu vintshen aider yenem tsu shelten”

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