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Step Back in Time: A Look into the LA Phil’s History

Watch & Listen

Ethel Leginska was the first woman to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra in 1925. Originally from England, Ethel studied as a pianist in Frankfurt, Germany and then Vienna, Austria. She first came to America in 1913 to make her debut as a pianist in New York, making a name for herself as a magnetic performer and pushing the boundaries of her day by shunning typical fashion for women in the 1920s preferring to wear velvet tuxedos.

Ethel established the Women’s Symphony Orchestra of Boston in 1926 and became a well-respected conductor in a time when it was unheard of for women to lead an orchestra as it was considered too complicated a job for women to handle. Her program with the Los Angeles Philharmonic opened with Werber’s “Oberon,” and included Beethoven’s Seventh and “Six Little Songs,” a collection of her own arrangements of Mother Goose rhymes.