List of female classical conductors

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The following is a sortable list of female classical conductors. Classical conductors work with orchestras, opera companies, ballet companies and choral groups. Many of the "disparities of treatment between men and women choral conductors [...] date back to the days prior to work-place initiatives against sexual harassment."[1] Women conductors have had to work hard for "acceptance in roles of authority" in the world of classical music.[2] Conducting orchestras has been called a glass ceiling by the BBC.[3]

Name Image Country Orchestras Born Died Notes
Marin Alsop United States Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo
1956 -- * First female conductor to be named music director/principal conductor of the Colorado SO, the Bournemouth SO, the Baltimore SO, and of OSESP
* First female conductor of the Last Night of the Proms in 2013[4]
Elfrida Andrée Andrée, Elfrida i VJ 6 1916.jpg Sweden 1841 1929 [5]
Frieda Belinfante Netherlands Orange County Philharmonic 1904 1995 [6]
Maria Badstue Denmark Gothenburg Symphony, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Aalborg Symphony Orchestra 1982 -- [7]
Gisele Ben-Dor Israel Houston Symphony
Louisville Orchestra
Israel Philharmonic
1955 -- [8]
Linda Bouchard Canada 1957 -- [9]
Nadia Boulanger Nadia Boulanger 1925.jpg France London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony, New York Philharmonic 1887 1979 First woman to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra.[10]
Antonia Louisa Brico Antonia Brico 1940.jpg Netherlands New York Philharmonic, Denver Community Symphony 1902 1989 First woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic.[11]
Sarah Caldwell United States Boston University Opera Workshop
Opera Company of Boston
1924 2006 First woman to conduct at the Metropolitan Opera (1976)
Karina Canellakis United States Radio Filharmonisch Orkest 1981 -- First female conductor to be named chief conductor of any Dutch orchestra.
Nezhat Amiri Iran Fajr Music Festival,
Naghmeh Baran Ensemble,
Tehran Symphony Orchestra
1961 -- First and Only Iranian female conductor
Joana Carneiro Portugal Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Berkeley Symphony, Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa 1976 --
Elim Chan Hong Kong NorrlandsOperan
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Antwerp Symphony Orchestra
1986 -- * First female principal guest conductor of the RSNO
* First woman conductor and youngest-ever conductor named chief conductor of the Antwerp Symphony
Han-na Chang South Korea Philharmonia Orchestra 1982 -- [12]
Mei-Ann Chen United States Chicago Sinfonietta, Memphis Symphony Orchestra 1973 -- [13]
Avril Coleridge-Taylor United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Royal Marines 1903 1998 First female conductor of the H.M.S Royal Marines.


Catherine Comet France Grand Rapids Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra 1944
Jessica Cottis Australia Glasgow New Music Expedition 1979 -- Valéria Csányi Hungary Hungarian Opera, since 1983 1958
Alondra de la Parra Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas
Queensland Symphony Orchestra
1980 -- First female conductor at the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.[15]
Ausma Derkēvica Latvia 1929 2011 [16]
Suzi Digby United Kingdom ORA Singers 1958 -- [17]
Veronika Dudarova Veronika Dudarova conductor.jpg Russia Junior conductor of the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra
Principal conductor of the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra
Symphony Orchestra of Russia
1916 2009 First 20th century female symphony orchestra conductor.
Sian Edwards United Kingdom English National Opera, Ensemble Modern 1959 -- [18]
Laurence Equilbey FolleJournée2009 LaurenceEquilbey2.jpg France Accentus 1962 -- [19]
JoAnn Falletta JoAnn Falletta.jpg United States Virginia Symphony Orchestra
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Ulster Orchestra
1954 -- [20]
Nicolette Fraillon Australia The Australian Ballet 1960 -- The world's only woman music director of a ballet company.[21]
Michi Gaigg Austria L'arpa festante, L'Orfeo 1957 -- [22]
Hortense von Gelmini Hortense von Gelmini Germany Nürnberger Symphoniker
Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg
SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg
Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Hofer Symphoniker
1947 First female conductor of these and other German Symphony Orchestras between 1975 and 1980. Conductor of the Orchestra of Hochschule für Musik Freiburg in 1965, Founder and conductor of "Orchestra Gelmini" since 1969. "The gathering critical judgement of Hortense von Gelmini, Germany's only woman conductor, is that she has not only the talent but the education, energy, and persistence to make her mark in this difficult and competitive profession" [23]
Ruth Gipps United Kingdom 1921 1999 [24]
Jane Glover United Kingdom London Mozart Players, Music of the Baroque, Chicago 1949 -- Third woman to conduct the Metropolitan Opera.[25]
Chiquinha Gonzaga Chiquinha Gonzaga-1877.jpg Brazil 1847 1935 First female conductor in Brazil.[26]
Karen Gorden United States Special Jury Prize, 50th Geneva International Conducting Competition 1967 Founded FORCULTURE in 2014[27]
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla Lithuania Salzburger Landestheater
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
1986 -- First female music director of the CBSO
Maria Guinand Maria Guinand.jpg Venezuela 1953 -- [29]
Emmanuelle Haïm Emmanuelle Haim.jpg France Le Concert d'Astrée 1962 -- First woman to conduct at Lyric Opera of Chicago.


Barbara Hannigan framless Canada Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Ludwig Orchestra
1971 -- First female principal guest conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Sarah Hicks United States Minnesota Orchestra 1972 [31]
Margaret Hillis United States Chicago Symphony Chorus, Chicago Symphony Orchestra 1921 1998 Founder and director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus.


Imogen Holst United Kingdom 1907 1984 [33]
Apo Hsu Apo-Hsu.altonthompson.jpg Taiwan / United States [34]
Laura Jackson United States Reno Philharmonic Orchestra [35]
Huan Jing China [36]
Sarah Ioannides Australia El Paso Symphony Orchestra, Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Tacoma Symphony Orchestra 1972 -- [37]
Sofi Jeannin France Choeur de Radio France
BBC Singers
1976 -- First female chief conductor of the Choeur de Radio France and of the BBC Singers.
Julia Jones United Kingdom Oper Köln, Staatstheater Darmstadt, Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal 1961 -- [38]
Karen Kamensek United States Slovenian National Theatre
Staatsoper Hannover
1970 -- [39]
Thea Kano United States New York City Master Chorale 1965 -- [40]
Vítězslava Kaprálová Kapralova1935.jpg Czech Republic Czech Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra 1915 1940 [41]
Eun Sun Kim South Korea Houston Grand Opera 1980 -- First female conductor to be named principal guest conductor of the Houston Grand Opera (effective 2019)
Carolyn Kuan United States Hartford Symphony Orchestra 1977 First female music director of the Hartford Symphony.
Tania León Tania Leon.jpg Cuba/United States 1943 -- [42]
Oksana Lyniv Ukraine Graz Opera, Bavarian State Opera 1978 First-ever Generalmusikdirektorin (female General Music Director) of the Graz Opera and Graz Philharmonic Orchestra
Susanna Mälkki Finland Ensemble Intercontemporain
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Los Angeles Philharmonic
1969 * First female music director of the EIC
* First female chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic
* First-ever female conductor in the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series
Joana Mallwitz Germany Theater Erfurt
Staatstheater Nürnberg
1986 First-ever Generalmusikdirektorin (female General Music Director) of the Theater Erfurt and of the Staatstheater Nürnberg
Simone Menezes Brazil, Italy Camerata Latino Americana 1977 -- [43]
Gemma New New Zealand Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra 1986 First female music director of the Hamilton PO
Tomomi Nishimoto Japan Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, Kyoto Symphony Orchestra 1970 -- [44]
Jasmina Novokmet Serbia 1969 -- [45]
Eva Ollikainen Finland Nordic Chamber Orchestra 1982 First female conductor to be named chief conductor of the Nordic CO
Helen Quach Vietnam, Australia, Philippines 1940 2013 [1]
Andrea Quinn Great Britain The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet 1964 * First female music director of The Royal Ballet
* First female music director of the New York City Ballet
Inma Shara Inma Shara amurrioarra 2009an.jpg Spain 1972 -- First female conductor who took the podium at the Vatican in 2008.[46]
Jeanette Sorrell United States Apollo's Fire 1965
Nathalie Stutzmann France Orfeo 55, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra 1965 First female to conduct an opera at the head of Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra
Anu Tali Estonia Nordic Symphony Orchestra, Sarasota Orchestra 1972 Co-founder of the Nordic SO. First female music director of the Sarasota Orchestra.
Katalin Váradi Hungary Budapest Opera 1973-1980, Budapest Operetta 1980-2004, Miskolc National Theatre 1984-2012 1948 2015
Nan Washburn United States Michigan Philharmonic Winner of the American Prize in Conducting 2013[47]
Keri-Lynn Wilson Canada Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra 1967 First female chief conductor of the Slovenian PO
Diane Wittry
Diane Wittry Conductor Photo.jpg
United States Symphony of Southeast Texas

Norwalk Symphony Orchestra Allentown Symphony Orchestra

1964 The 1st[48] female music director of an orchestra in the State of Texas, and the first female conductor at the Ojai Music Festival, CA
Rachael Worby United States Symphony Orchestra in Wheeling, Pasadena POPS 1950 -- [49]
Lidiya Yankovskaya United States Chicago Opera Theater, Refugee Orchestra Project, Juventas New Music Ensemble, Lowell House Opera, Commonwealth Lyric Theater 1986 -- Russian-American opera and symphonic conductor and the Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater

As of her appointment at COT, Yankovskaya is the only female music director of a major American opera company.[50][51]

Simone Young Simone Young 2010 - Portrait by Bertold Fabricius.jpg Australia Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Opera Australia
Philharmoniker Hamburg
1961 -- First female conductor of the Vienna State Opera in 1993.[52]
Xian Zhang China Sioux City Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
1973 * First female music director of the Sioux City Symphony, of La Verdi, and of the NJSO.
* First titled female conductor with any BBC orchestra.
* First female conductor ever to conduct the annual Beethoven 9 Prom at The Proms.
Xiaoying Zheng China China National Opera House, Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, Ai Yue Nu Philharmonic Orchestra 1929 -- First female conductor in China.[53]


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Links to online resources[edit]