‘One Woman in a Hundred’

In One Woman in a Hundred, author Mary Sue Welsh shares the biography of harpist Edna Phillips (1907–2003), who joined the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930. Phillips was not only the Philadelphia Orchestra’s first female member, but also the first woman to hold a principal position in any major orchestra in America.
Phillips was just 23 years old when she was plucked from the Curtis Institute of Music in the midst of her studies and named principal harpist by renowned conductor Leopold Stokowski. Blessed with a nimble wit and passion for music, Phillips not only survived, but thrived in the all-male world she entered – despite having to face hostility from her peers, skepticism from the public, unwanted amorous advances, and her own struggle to overcome a lack of experience and improve her playing.
Welsh began working on the book as a memoir for Phillips in 1990, but put it aside when Phillips became ill several years later. After Phillips passed away in 2003, Welsh returned to the project, this time approaching the story as a biography. In One Woman in a Hundred, she draws on extensive interviews with Phillips, members of her family, and her colleagues, and in-depth research from numerous archival sources to memorialize the life and times of one of Philadelphia’s most deserving unsung heroes.
One Woman in a Hundred is available at,,, and most major bookstores. 
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