Abstract

The Vienna Philharmonic is the paradigm of the symphony orchestra. No other orchestra in the world has been so intimately involved with the composers and cultural developments that have defined the genre. Despite recent protests against the orchestra, it still excludes women and visible members of racial minorities based on its belief that gender and ethnic uniformity give it aesthetic superiority. The Vienna Philharmonic thus provides an interesting case study for the allocation of power in Western art music. In this article, the author documents the orchestra's ideologies and relates them to a general theory that the allocation of power in artistic expression is often culturally isomorphic with the larger values of the society in which that expression occurs. He then discusses how cultural isomorphism affects concepts of power allocation in the modernist and postmodernist mind-sets.

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