Abbie Conant

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Abbie Conant
Born (1955-03-14) March 14, 1955 (age 64)[1]
  • Trombonist
  • educator
  • activist[2]
Years active1980–present
Associated actsMunich Philharmonic Orchestra

Abbie Conant is an American trombonist who was selected in a blind audition as the overwhelming first choice for Principal Trombonist of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in 1980[3] but faced discrimination once the selection committee learned they'd chosen a woman.[4]

The auditions were held with musicians and the selection committee separated by a screen, a practice that was unusual at the time, because one of the other 32 musicians auditioning was the son of a prominent musician. After her audition, the orchestra's then Guest Conductor Sergiu Celibidache exclaimed "That's who we want!"[3]

After they made their selection, the selection committee were shocked to discover their winner, whom they'd mistakenly invited to audition as "Herr Conant," was a woman.[2] What followed was thirteen years of subtle and blatant harassment by Celibidache, who had since been promoted to Music Director. He demoted her to second trombone and refused to give her solos, explaining that "we need a man for solo trombone."[3][5] Conant successfully sued the Philharmonic for discrimination [3][6] and sued them again for back pay when she discovered she'd been paid less than her male colleagues.[7]

The story was "my inspiration"[8] and served as the concluding chapter for Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller, Blink, and was told in a 1994 full-length documentary film, Abbie Conant: Alone Among Men by Brenda Parkerson.

Conant was raised in New Mexico[4] and attended Temple University and Juilliard. She is married to composer William Osborne.

See also[edit]

Abbie Conant: Alone Among Men (1994 documentary film)


  1. ^ Ammer, Christine. Unsung: A History of Women in American Music. Amadeus Press. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b Smart, Amy. "Female trombonist fought battle against orchestra sexism". Times Colonist. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b Adamo, Mark (1994-03-14). "THE TROMBONIST WHO LOCKED HORNS". Washington Post. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  4. ^ Dowlin, Joan (2012-05-08). "ITF Paris 2012: Why Are No Women Invited as Soloists or Composers?". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  5. ^ Duff, Christina (March 7, 1997). "Female Musicians Fare Better When Heard But Not Seen". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  6. ^ Bennett II, James. "A Trombonist Got a Job with the Munich Philharmonic. Then She Fought Them in Court for 13 Years". WQXR. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  7. ^ Herman, Jan. "Malcolm Gladwell Blinks at Abbie Conant". Arts Journal. Retrieved 25 October 2018.