- Venue's Capacity: 1744
It was an unforgettable expérience when I conducted here for the first time in 1897. I had not known until then that music could be so beautiful.» Bruno Walter thus described the Vienna Musikverein's large hall, whose acous-tics are considered perfect. Is this perfection due to the haU's very characteristic rectangular design, to its balconies and the famous caryatids that reflect the projection of sound, to the wooden floors, or to the suspended ceiling? Or could the past be so forcejully présent that it inspires every artist who performs on its stage? To the extent that music will always sound beautifully here?
The history of the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna (Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien), owner of the building, dates back to 1812. Originally, the Society's objectives were threefold: to constitute archives; to gîve concerts, and to found a conservatary. Beethoven and Brahms were honorary members, Bruckner taught at the conservatary, and Mahler was a student ihere, as was Hugo Wolf and Zemlinsky. The building itself was inaugurated in 1870, designed by a Danish architect who had studied in Greece, Theophil Hansen. Besides premîering numerous symphonies, including Brahms' 2nd and 3rd, Bruckner's Ist, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th, and 9th, as well as Mahler's 9th, the Musikverein premiered the latter's KINDERTOTENLIEDER and his KLAGENDE LIED, Ravel's CONCERTO FOR THE LEFT H AND, Schoenberg's GURRELIEDER and his PELLEAS UND MELISANDE, and Webern's PASSACAGLIA op. 1 and his Six PIÈCES op. 6. This împressive lîst almost overshadows the première of countless mélodies written by Johann, Josef, and Eduard Strauss...
Who is the Musikverein's most illustrious tenant? The Vienna Philharmonie Orchestra. This orchestra's history began in 1342, at the Austrian court. Wagner sang its praises in 1872, and Mahler conducted it before it decided to switch to a System of self-management in 1908. More commonly called the Wiener Philharmoniker, the orchestra organizes concerts and chooses guest conductors at its discrétion, for, as the Vienna Opera's officiai pit orchestra, the ensemble has a guaranteed incarne. Conductors such as Furtwangler, Toscanini, Bruno Walter, Richard Strauss, Karl Bôhm, Karajan, and Abbado ail s peut several years with the orchestra. Often designated as the world's best orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonie above ail perpétuâtes a tradition, sometimes to the point of obsessiveness: the string instruments, for example, must ail corne from the same school of instrument makers, and women are not admitted. But the Viennese tradition is also and above ail a dance rhythm that gently lilts here and there, the joy of a melody so tenderly played with almost a touch of sweet sadness, the velvety strings, the rustic sound of the brass instruments, and the warmth of the v/oodwinds.