Growing up, I remember learning of the accomplishments of many people in US and world history and more often than not, those people were men. Women received much less coverage. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that the accomplishments of women have long been minimized, dismissed, or ignored. This is another way that sexism has played out in society. Denying the accomplishments of women is an insult. It treats them as if they’re unimportant…as if they haven’t contributed significantly to events throughout human history. In this ongoing series, I’ll be highlighting notable women, historically important women, and those women who ought to be acknowledged. My intent is to show that women have contributed to the course of human history and ought to be recognized, rather than ignored or overlooked. Today’s woman of the day, Eve Queler, is recognized as a pioneer in the world of opera.
Born in New York City in 1936, Eve Queler (née Eve Rabin) had an aptitude for music at an early age. She began piano lessons at the age of 5 and attended the New York City High School of Music and Art, the Hebrew Union School of Education and Sacred Music, and the Mannes College of Music. While attending Mannes College, she began the study of conducting under Carl Bamberger. Queler faced slow progress as the field was traditionally all-male. Nonetheless, she continued to study, even working with Joseph Rosenstock of the Metropolitan Opera. Her first public appearance as a conductor was an outdoor performance of a truncated version of Cavalleria rusticana in 1966.
In 1967, Queler organized the Opera Orchestra of New York, in part to gain experience conducting professionally (and also to give opportunities to singers and instrumentalists). In time, the orchestra established itself, and Queler received public acclaim as one of only a few women to become a professional orchestra conductor. Queler would go on to conduct over 100 operas in concert at Carnegie Hall as well as engagements around the world. In 2010, she received a lifetime achievement award in the field of opera from the National Endowment of the Arts.