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One Woman in a HundredEdna Phillips and the Philadelphia Orchestra$
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Mary Sue Welsh

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037368

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037368.001.0001

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In the Lions’ Den

In the Lions’ Den

(p.1) Chapter 1 In the Lions’ Den
One Woman in a Hundred

Mary Sue Welsh

University of Illinois Press

This chapter details Edna Phillips' appointment as a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Phillips entered the Philadelphia Orchestra as its only woman in 1930. Having chosen the harp, an instrument that women played in drawing rooms in the Victorian era and one that was associated with ethereal, feminine attributes, she was more easily accepted into an orchestra than a player of another instrument might have been, but that did not mean her colleagues or the orchestra's audiences accepted and welcomed her arrival. As a woman invading a male bastion, she was just that, an invader, a pioneer in uncharted territory, and her arrival was met with curiosity at best and hostility at worst. Phillips understood that her life in an all-male orchestra would be full of challenges, but that was not her primary concern when she entered the Philadelphia Orchestra. Her biggest fear was that she wouldn't be able to hold her own as a musician among the orchestra's superb players, not because she was a woman, but because her training had been cut short. In a move that shocked and surprised both Phillips and her teacher, conductor Leopold Stokowski had appointed her to the first-chair position in his orchestra rather than choosing her for the second harp position she thought she was auditioning for.

Keywords:   Edna Phillips, harpists, Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski, female musicians

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