• Founding

    1. The first Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra concert was held on Easter Monday, March 28, 1842.

    2. Both the Vienna and the New York Philharmonic Orchestras were founded in 1842. In 2017, both orchestras celebrate their 175 th Anniversaries and presented their first mutual exhibition of documents from archives in New York and Vienna.

    3. The Vienna Philharmonic was founded in the Spring of 1842 by the conductor and composer, Otto Nicolai, and two local critics, August Schmidt and Alfred Julius Becher, who wanted to form a professional symphony orchestra of a kind that did not exist in Vienna at the time. Their motivation? They wanted to perform all the symphonies of Beethoven to the highest musical standards.

    4. One of the Orchestra’s founders of the Vienna Philharmonic was the lawyer and composer Alfred Julius Becher who also founded other democratic associations in 19th century Vienna. Democratic principles are part of the Orchestra’s founding draft from 1842. Austria was a monarchy until 1918.

    5. The first concerts were held in the Redoutensaal at the Hofburg Palace until 1870 when the Musikverein opened.

    6. The Vienna Philharmonic gives more than forty concerts a year in Vienna, including the New Year’s Concert and the Summer Night Concert, the latter in the park at Schönbrunn. Since 1922 it has also appeared annually at the Salzburg Festival.

  • Governance

    1. The Orchestra’s constitution states that only a member of the Opera Orchestra could be a member of the Vienna Philharmonic. The players are self-governing, administering and organizing their own concerts and dividing up the proceeds among themselves. The Orchestra is run by a chairperson chosen by the members from among their own number and by an administrative committee elected in the same way.

    2. August Schmidt, claimed that Otto Nicolai had drawn up the founding charter document during a conversation with him and Alfred Julius Becher in a pub, “Zum Amor”, in Vienna’s inner city. The pub was the regular watering hole of many artists and journalists. Schmidt’s claim receives some support from the note-like character of what is now such a valuable scrap of paper. Schmidt kept it with a set of early programs for the Vienna Philharmonic concerts. All three of the Orchestra’s idealist ideologues came from a musical background, all were additionally interested in politics and all played an active role in implementing democratic ideas.

    3. The first female musicians were accepted into the Orchestra in 1997. There are now 14 female musicians. They play the harp, the violin, the bassoon, the flute, the viola and the violoncello. The concertmaster, Albena Danailova, is the lead violinist and sits first chair adjacent to the conductor and leads the Orchestra in tuning prior to a concert.

    4. A subscription concert series format was introduced in 1860 and helped put the Orchestra on sound financial footing that has survived to the present day.

    5. The Vienna Philharmonic became a registered company in 1908.

  • Conductors

    1. Since 1842 the members of the Orchestra have chosen eminent conductors to lead them and have strived to perform significant works. In the beginning, a single conductor was engaged for at least a season at a time. As their first principal conductor they appointed Otto Nicolai, who guided the orchestra’s fortunes until 1847 and conducted most of its concerts. Among his distinguished successors have been Hans Richter (1875–82 and 1883–98), Gustav Mahler (1898–1901), Felix Weingartner (1908–27), Wilhelm Furtwängler (1927–30) and Clemens Krauss (1930–33). During the 19th century the Orchestra also forged close ties with many composers and conductors such as Brahms, Bruckner, Verdi and Wagner.

    2. In 1933 the Orchestra adopted the practice of engaging guest conductors and as a result has had no principal conductor since then.

    3. Leonard Bernstein was the first American to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic. His debut concert, which included compositions by Mozart and Mahler took place in Vienna in 1966.

    4. The last concert that Leonard Bernstein conducted in New York before his death in 1990 was with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

  • Important works

    1. The Orchestra had an important relationship with Richard Strauss, who conducted the Vienna Philharmonic on countless occasions between 1906 and 1944. His opera Die Frau ohne Schatten was first heard at the Vienna State Opera, while his revised version of Die ägyptische Helena, Die Liebe der Danae and the Second Horn Concerto were all premiered by the orchestra at the Salzburg Festival.

    2. The Orchestra performed the world premieres of Brahms’s Second and Third Symphonies and of Bruckner’s Second, Fourth, Sixth and Eighth Symphonies.

  • Foreign Tours

    1. Mahler took the Orchestra to the Paris World’s Fair in 1900, inaugurating a tradition of foreign tours. To date the Orchestra has appeared most frequently in Germany, followed by Japan and the United States.

    2. The Vienna Philharmonic was the first European symphony orchestra, and probably the first professional orchestra worldwide, to go to South America. The Orchestra first went in 1922 under Weingartner and again under Strauss in 1923. It was not until 1940 that the NBC Orchestra followed. In 1954, the Bamberger Symphony Orchestra travelled to Mexico.

    3. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra made its United States and Carnegie Hall debut November 7, 1956 in what was the beginning of a long standing close relationship with New York City and Carnegie Hall.

    4. The first visit to Japan took place in 1956. The Soviet Union followed in 1962, China in 1973, Israel in 1988 and Australia in 2006.

    5. The Orchestra performs more than fifty concerts a year internationally