Here’s something I wrote for the highbrows, who will probably disagree: “The Vienna Philharmonic’s discriminatory practices against women and people of color cast such a pall over its considerable artistic achievement that the orchestra has turned out to be the shame, not the pride, of Western civilization.
In “Art Is Just an Excuse,” the first of several seminal essays, American composer and musicologist William Osborne contended that the Vienna Philharmonic’s belief in male supremacy — rooted in a historical rationale of national identity and cultural purity — was gender bias of the worst sort.
With this argument, Osborne ignited a global debate in cyberspace. Classical music fans from New Zealand to Costa Rica traded thousands of e-mail messages, for and against; some suggested further action (a boycott of Vienna Philharmonic recordings by music libraries, for instance), while others dismissed the concern over gender bias as kowtowing to political correctness. The intensity of the debate was as striking as it was widespread.