I wish this was only a cliché, but even though things have improved in a small way since 2013 - when there was only one single female conductor in the top 100 busiest maestros (this year there are four times as many, but four out of 100 is hardly breaking new ground for gender equality); and if in 2013 there were no women at all in the top 150 most performed composers, at least this year Sofia Gubaidulina claws her way to no. 132 in the list), it’s clear that the institutions of classical music, above all the orchestras and opera houses, are moving at a collectively glacial pace when it comes to equal gender representation.I said "moral stupidity" for this is what it is. It is also racist and gender biased to an absurd degree. People like Tom tend to live in a monoculture where everyone shares precisely the same opinions and are deeply offended when anyone disagrees. So, Tom and your fellow-travelers, prepare to be offended.
"Equal gender representation" is a moral good only to those people whose moral compass has been crushed by indoctrination. Equality is one of those treacherous ideas that can be morally good or bad. If it means that everyone must be treated equally fairly according to the demands of justice, then it is a good. If it means that the Vienna Philharmonic must have precisely 50% women, 50% men and the exact quotas of Asian and other visible minorities according to the regional demographics then it is a horrible travesty of justice. To people like Tom Service, it is an assumption so basic that it cannot even be questioned. He doesn't even realize that citing with great moral fervor how few women composers are in the top 150 does not jibe with the statistics of most performed composers he also cites. All the top ten composers are male: surely, according to Tom's criteria, this is equally a moral failing and classical music must move towards performing precisely equivalent numbers of works by male and female composers (and yes, with the previously mentioned racial quotas as well).
NO OTHER CRITERIA THAN NUMERICAL EQUIVALENCE CAN HAVE ANY WEIGHT!!
This is the implication and none of these thumb-sucking articles ever state it openly. But it is inherently absurd. If audiences and performers have made Beethoven the most performed composer last year, then the reasons for that were very likely due to the quality of his music. Any interference with this through crude indoctrination or government regulation would be a moral evil as it cuts directly against the freedoms of the artists and their audiences. Given what absurdities are currently practiced in the UK, it wouldn't surprise me if, especially after reading a few more articles like this, the government did not proposes legislation stipulating how many performances of female versus male composers will be required by law.
Articles like Tom's and a thousand others, only are acceptable to the extent that they conceal their basic assumptions. As soon as you state them clearly, their absurdity is evident. According to Tom's moral code, tonight when I am deciding what music to listen to, I must choose it according to equal gender representation!
This whole moral morass is an example of cultural Marxism, the appeal to collective identity, which is a direct assault on the true principles of justice and fairness according to which individuals must be treated as individuals. The implied collective guilt of "white men" is a moral, historical, legal and aesthetic absurdity. It is just and fair that Beethoven be performed more than another composer (male, female, black or Asian) simply because his music has earned it aesthetically.
Politically, Marxism has proved very useful to autocrats of all sorts. But it has consistently proved ruinous to those very people it purports to help. We have seen this over and over again in the sphere of economics, it is just as true in the field of aesthetics.
I think we need to hear some Beethoven at this point. Here is the Violin Concerto played by Anne Sophie Mutter with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Seiji Ozawa:
(and I did not choose Mutter because she is a woman, nor Ozawa because he is Japanese, but simply because they perform this music well.)