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Women's Orchestras; Irma Seydel; questions...


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First of all, Happy New Year's to all, and may music be part of your celebrations.

I have been investigating biographies of some early 20th century violinists and came across a reference which has piqued my curiosity. In researching the life of Irma Seydel, an outstanding American virtuoso from Boston, I came across a reference to the "Boston Women's Symphony", of which she was concertmaster(mistress?) in the late 1920s. Now, this brings up several questions: 1) could she not have been a member of the Boston Symphony of that era (all-male?); 2) were there many other "alternative" women's symphonies at the time in other cities for oustanding female players, and were they well-regarded?; 3) did these orchestras make any recordings, and who conducted them? 4) what was the nature of these orchestras' finances (subscription, public, amateur voluntary ???) Just a few questions, probably many more could be asked.

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If I`m not wrong, Vivaldi`s church does not exist any longer, but the building of the Ospedale is still there. It was an orphanage that received also illegitime children. I remember reading a plaque in front of it warning that people that were living legitimate children there were commiting a sin and would be excomunicated (or something like this).

The lovely small church and basin in wich Vivaldi was baptized is still there. Venice is a unique city, and the music it produced (and their instruments) are unique too.

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You always have such interesting questions.

I think the Boston Symphony was all-male up until the 1950's. If I remember the story right, it was a female flute player who finally broke the ice -- but don't quote me on that, I might be wrong! There were a number of women's orchestras in other cities as well, but I don't know any specifics about them. Actually, I think there are still a couple of women's orchestras left -- I think there's one somewhere in Ohio and another out in maybe San Francisco. (Once again, don't quote me on that!)

Even now most major orchestras hold preliminary auditions behind a screen with a carpet runner on the stage so that the committee can't tell whether the player is male or female.

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