Here’s the lovely Nicola Benedetti. It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when many people were disgusted at the sight of a woman playing the violin. As one writer (in The Girls’ Own Indoor Book, attempting to reassure teenage girls in the 1880s) says
I have also in former days known girls of whom it was darkly hinted that they played the violin, as it might be said that they smoked big cigars, or enjoyed the sport of rat-catching.
By the end of the century, those former days appeared long gone. Violin-playing was deemed ‘lady-like’, if not a suitable job for a woman – when Henry Wood, the visionary director of Queen’s Hall Orchestra and the man behind the Proms, hired six female string players in 1913 he was right to take great pride in his action, but, sadly, other orchestras did not follow suit.
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