Sabine Meyer’s incredible career
What must it have been like to be the first woman appointed to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1982? Even today only about 14% of the orchestra’s members are female. Although the Vienna Philharmonic lists 6 women in its current line up (they only allowed women to become full members of the orchestra in 1997, although some women had previously performed with the orchestra without being full members), those lucky enough to attend one of their recent Australian concerts would have seen only three women on stage.
Sabine Meyer stayed at the Berlin Philharmonic for only nine months before leaving to pursue a solo career. Even without the controversy surrounding her appointment, who could blame her, for what a career she’s had! She has worked with some of the world’s leading orchestras and musicians, ranging from the Vienna Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony orchestras, to Gidon Kremer, Heinrich Schiff, and the Hagen and Tokyo String Quartets.
Meyer has held her place as one of the world’s top woodwind soloists for more than quarter of a century; she now performs in 60-80 concerts per year. “These days, I can say what I want to do and how much I want to do, with which musicians and when,” says Meyer. “I have a teaching post which I share with my husband here in Lübeck, I perform with a pianist, with string quartets, with a wind ensemble with the Trio di Clarone, and I have a project with a singer. I have two children. I think it’s enough. It’s perfect.”
According to journalist Shirley Apthorp, Meyer is “a star known for her fresh approach and peerless virtuosity, one of the first names that leaps to mind when the clarinet is mentioned… Her ability to colour the clarinet’s sound in a myriad different ways was seminal to the development of playing technique evolved in the late 20th century.”
It is fifteen years since Meyer was last in Australia and Musica Viva looks forward to welcoming her back!