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Austrian all-male orchestra agrees to vote on admitting women

January 23, 1997

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ The Vienna Philharmonic will let women join if rank-and-file members agree, a move that will likely end its status as one of the world’s last all-male orchestras.

The Vienna Philharmonic, considered one of the world’s best, could no longer ``bypass″ modern trends, orchestra chairman Werner Resel told Austrian state television Wednesday.

He said the agreement to bring women into the orchestra was reached in talks between the culture ministry and union representatives of the state opera orchestra, which is part of the philharmonic.

The final obstacle is a vote by orchestra members. It was not clear when women will be allowed to become members of the group, but there are vacancies for a tuba and a principal viola player.

Last year, Culture Minister Rudolf Scholten reportedly slashed some government subsidies when the orchestra refused to admit woman musicians despite repeated urgings by parliament.

No woman has ever been a formal, full member of the Vienna Philharmonic.

The closest was Anna Lelkes, a harpist who has played for the orchestra for 26 years but whose name was included on the program for the first time only in 1995 when the orchestra played at Carnegie Hall.

She was unable to vote on orchestra policy regarding concerts, conductors and recordings as the men do.

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