The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Wiener Philharmoniker in German) is an orchestra based in Vienna, Austria that is widely considered to be one of the most important and historically significant orchestras still performing today. The orchestra is Austria's premier collection of instrumentalists, with all of its players having to go through a rigorous talent vetting process that includes at least three years of performance in the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera and Ballet. Despite never relying on a single principal conductor to lead its elite class of musicians, many of the world's greatest conductors have had the privilege to work with the Vienna Philharmonic, of whom Hans Richter (who premiered Brahms' 2nd and 3rd Symphonies with the orchestra), Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss and Leonard Bernstein (who was made an honorary member of the orchestra) stand as only a few. However, given the elitist nature of the orchestra's selection process, many minorities (particularly women) were excluded from working with the Vienna Philharmonic during much of the 20th Century. Although this caused a significant amount of controversy, particularly at the turn of the 21st Century, the Vienna Philharmonic continues to find a happy medium between tradition and equal opportunity in order to ensure that talented musicians will not be turned away based on their physical appearance and background.
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