Early Organizational Structures of American Women's Orchestras
The women's orchestra movement was a direct response to the dearth of public performance opportunities for women. The first American women's orchestras were founded in the 1870s. The career model and the club model sought a quality that would today be defined as professionalism. The two models evolved and eventually merged into a new, professional women's symphony model that was characteristic of women's orchestras founded in the twentieth century and enabled women instrumentalists to enter orchestras. Like the Vienna Lady Orchestra, the Ladies Elite Orchestra succeeded in combining novelty and musicianship. The career and club models together defined early women's orchestras but could also limit them. The Woman's Symphony Orchestra of Chicago was the most prominent and successful example of the new professional model. The work of nineteenth-century women's orchestras had extended women's performance opportunities and removed many of the barriers that had limited their work.
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