March 28, 2017
Vienna Philharmonic Celebrates 175th Anniversary at the Haus der Musik

Celebration to include joint exhibition with the New York Philharmonic, Vienna and New York: 175 Years of Two Philharmonics, opening March 29; Opening of new rooms for the orchestra’s Historical Archives at the Haus der Musik; and release of limited-edition, commemorative 175 – Vienna Philharmonic Record Player

VIENNA, AUSTRIA (March 28, 2017) — The Vienna Philharmonic celebrates its 175th anniversary this year with a special exhibition at Vienna’s Haus der Musik, the expansion of the orchestra’s Historical Archives at this location, and the release of a limited edition, Philharmonic-themed record player. A joint exhibition with the New York Philharmonic, which was also founded in 1842, Vienna and New York: 175 Years of Two Philharmonics opens on March 29 and can be viewed free of charge until January 2018. An earlier exhibition celebrating both orchestras’ 175th anniversaries was held at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York from February 23 to March 10. In addition to the upcoming exhibit and opening of new rooms for the Historical Archives at the Haus der Musik, this milestone Vienna Philharmonic anniversary is commemorated with the limited-edition release of the 175 – Vienna Philharmonic Record Player, designed by Pro-Ject Audio and constructed from the same raw materials used in musical instruments.

Vienna and New York: 175 Years of Two Philharmonics

Regarding the exhibit, Vienna Philharmonic Chairman Andreas Großbauer states, "Many objects—such as the founding documents, concert programs, orchestra and tour photos, musical scores, and letters from Gustav Mahler—will be available for viewing by the public for the very first time.”

This rich and varied collection traces the histories of the Vienna and New York Philharmonics side-by-side, highlighting their similarities and differences over the course of their 175 years. The exhibit explores, among other topics, the relationships of both ensembles to such composers as Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler, as well to such conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta and Arturo Toscanini. The exhibit also examines how the rise of National Socialism affected both orchestras.

Vienna and New York: 175 Years of Two Philharmonics makes innovative use of its exhibit space, complementing the archival collection with visually stunning installations and digital technology. Among these additional components of the exhibit are black-wood sculptures of abstract stringed instruments, which stretch out into the space from a wood-paneled wall, and a ceiling-high oversized page of music made from silk, which is set in motion by the natural air currents to suggest the resonance of the orchestra.

The exhibition is intended as an extension of the museum on the first and third floors of the Klangmuseum in the Haus der Musik. On the first floor of this building, in which Philharmonic founder Otto Nicolai once resided, there is the Museum of the Vienna Philharmonic, which holds additional documents and mementos from the orchestra's history.

On the third floor, visitors have the opportunity to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic themselves using the Virtual Conductor. Additional rooms are dedicated to Viennese classical period composers Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven, with additional composers including Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schönberg also being celebrated.

Until April 5, an installation by the artist Nives Widauer (www.widauer.net), entitledSpecial Cases – Cosmic Rocket, is on display. Consisting of a monumental rocket sculpture constructed out of the Philharmonic's transport crates, the piece is an allusion to the orchestra’s many tours and its status as a globetrotting ensemble beloved by audiences around the world. A related volume of photographs entitled Special Cases has been published by the Hatje Cantz Publishing House.

Opening of New Rooms for the Vienna Philharmonic Historical Archives

In the Haus der Musik, the orchestra's anniversary will also be marked by the opening of the newly arranged Historical Archives. The expansion of the archives has been made possible by funds from the Birgit Nilsson Prize 2014. In conjunction with the media tour of the new archives, there will be a one-time showing of original objects from the exhibit.

"We are not only proud that the Haus der Musik represents the location of the founding of the Vienna Philharmonic and the home of the orchestra's Historical Archives, but also that many of the orchestra's treasures are accessible to the public here in the Museum of the Vienna Philharmonic," says Haus der Musik Director Simon Posch.

175 – Vienna Philharmonic Record Player

A timelessly elegant record player of the highest quality has been developed in cooperation with the Austrian company Pro-Ject Audio to mark the 175th anniversary of the Vienna Philharmonic. The 175 – Vienna Philharmonic Record Player is built using material found in musical instruments. The wooden chassis and lacquer of the 175correspond to that of a violin. Metals used for the tone arm and switches also come from instrument manufacture. The goal of this collaboration is to approximate as closely as possible the sound of the world-famous Vienna Philharmonic.

Released in a limited edition series of only 175 units, each with serial number and dedication, the Vienna Philharmonic Record Player offers music aficionados a unique collectible with an innovative and inspired design. Each unit is produced exclusively by hand over a two-month period.

Technical Data:

Nominal speeds: 33/45 r.p.m.
Drive principle: belt-drive
Turntable: aluminum, 300mm diameter
Axle main bearing: stainless steel
Wow and flutter: at 33 U/min: ±0,10 %, at 45 U/min: ±0,09 %
Speed variance: at 33 U/min: ±0,13 %, at 45 U/min: ±0,10 %
Signal to noise: 70dB
Tone arm: 9" Aluminum S-Shape, Brass Headshell
Cartridge: Selected High-End Moving Coil System Ortofon 175

Accessories included: record clamp, leather pad, dust cover, high end phono cable, precision scale

Power supply: 110/120 or 230/240 Volt at 50 or 60 Hz
Power consumption: maximum 5 Watt, < 0,5 Watt in Standby
Dimensions (W x H x D): 462 x 131 x 351mm, dust cover open 462 x 423 x 390mm 
Weight: 13 kg net

Information and Orders:

Heinz Lichtenegger, CEO Audio Tuning and Director of Pro-Ject Audio, h.l@audiotuning.at

Audio Tuning: www.audiotuning.at, Pro-Ject Audio: www.project-audio.com

Vienna Philharmonic. There is perhaps no other musical ensemble more closely associated with the history and tradition of European classical music than the Vienna Philharmonic. Over the course of its 175 year history, the musicians of this most prominent orchestra of the capital city of music, have been an integral part of a musical epoch that—thanks to an abundance of uniquely gifted composers and interpreters—is regarded as truly unique. The orchestra's close association with this rich musical history is best illustrated by statements of countless pre-eminent musical personalities of the past. Richard Wagner described the orchestra as one of the most outstanding in the world; Anton Bruckner called it "the most superior musical association;" Johannes Brahms counted himself as a "friend and admirer;" Gustav Mahler claimed to be joined with the orchestra through "the bonds of musical art;" and Richard Strauss said, "All praise of the Vienna Philharmonic reveals itself as understatement." For more information about the orchestra, visit www.wienerphilharmoniker.at. For a history of the orchestra, see farther down in this release.

Historical Archives of the Vienna Philharmonic. The Vienna Philharmonic has been carefully documenting its concert activity since its founding in 1842. Next to the original “founding decree” of Otto Nicolai and the program leaflets of the Philharmonic concerts, around 70 documents are preserved even from the early years of the orchestra. Shortly after the introduction of Philharmonic subscription concerts in the year 1860, a sheet music archive was established, which until 2010 was continuously managed by an active member of the orchestra. The acquisition and retention of sheet music was settled in September 1861 in the first internal regulations of the Vienna Philharmonic.

Next to the maintenance and continued enlargement of the music library, the program leaflets, posters, important documents, letters, honorary gifts, etc. were also stored in this “operational archive.” Thus, its managers effectively ran a historical archive, though it was not until July 30, 1979, that the formal separation of the operational archives from the historical archives took place. In May 1985, a separate room was established for the Historical Archives in the building of the Musical Society, and 15 years later it moved to the Haus der Musik.

An extensive collection of programs and a concert database are at the heart of the Historical Archives, and nearly all objects and documents of the collection relate directly to the Vienna Philharmonic. The collection includes:

  • Approximately 7,000 programs / program leaflets
  • Posters
  • Approximately 6,500 letters (Berg, Bernstein, Brahms, Böhm, Bruckner, Busoni, Dessoff, Dvorák, Einem, Elgar, Furtwängler, Hindemith, Karajan, Kienzl, E. Und C. Kleiber, Knappertsbusch, Korngold, C. Krauss, Krenek, Krips, Lehár, Mahler, Nicolai, Pfitzner, H. Richter, F. Schmidt, Schönberg, R. Strauss, J. Strauß, Weingartner, B. Walter, et al.)
  • Honorary gifts (awards, prizes, golden/platinum/double-platinum records or discs, etc.)
  • Memorabilia of composers and musicians or certain events (Brahms’ glasses, nib and cigarette case, a matchbox with Wagner’s picture from the belongings of Bruckner, Beethoven’s walking cane, Mahler’s traveling cap, the batons of various conductors, Bernstein’s dress coat, etc.)
  • Decrees and certificates
  • Medals
  • Damenspenden of the Philharmonic balls since 1924
  • Approximately 15,000 pictures of the Vienna Philharmonic and its conductors (partially with dedications)
  • Autograph manuscripts (Brahms, Richard Strauss, Pfitzner, et al.)
  • First editions of scores and orchestra parts
  • Membership registers, card indexes
  • Files and documents (protocols of committee meetings and general assemblies, official documents, business papers, etc.)

The Vienna Philharmonic extends its gratitude to the Birgit Nilsson Foundation, which was established by the renowned soprano. The expansion of the Historical Archives of the Vienna Philharmonic was made possible through the funds from the Birgit Nilsson Prize 2014.

Haus der Musik. The Haus der Musik is an interactive and experiential museum in downtown Vienna and is the location of the founding of the Vienna Philharmonic. This museum presents a fascinating world of music and sounds over five floors and also houses a special museum devoted to the Vienna Philharmonic. The composer and conductor Otto Nicolai (1810–49) resided in an apartment in the building at the time that he founded the Philharmonic in 1842. The Museum of the Vienna Philharmonic offers vivid testimony to Austrian musical and cultural history. For more information, visit www.hausdermusik.com.

History of the Vienna Philharmonic. For the past 175 years, the Vienna Philharmonic has been inseparably linked with the European musical tradition from the classical to the contemporary. The Philharmonic’s performances, which include many notable premieres, have earned a place in music history. When in 1842, conductor and composer Otto Nicolai and music critics August Schmidt and Alfred Julius Becher considered the founding of a professional orchestra for the performance of symphonic repertoire (which until that time had not existed in Vienna), the primary goal was to facilitate high-quality performances of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven. From the beginning, this undertaking found willing partners in the members of the Imperial Court Opera Orchestra.

The first Philharmonic Concert on March 28, 1842, Easter Monday, began a now-175-year musical journey that the musicians at that time could have hardly imagined. Early concerts took place in the Grand Ballroom (Redoutensaal) of the Vienna Imperial Palace. With the introduction of the subscription concerts in 1860, the Philharmonic returned to its original home in the Court Opera House before moving to the newly opened Musikverein in 1870.

The orchestra's Historical Archives are in possession of a so-called "founding document", a draft by Otto Nicolai outlining democratic principles of self-government which remain valid for the Vienna Philharmonic to this day. Decades later, August Schmidt, one of the orchestra's founding fathers, maintained that Otto Nicolai scribbled these notes during a conversation with Schmidt himself and Becher in the Zum Amor Inn in Vienna, a frequent haunt of artists and journalists. This would correspond to the informal character of this slip of paper—so valuable today—which Schmidt preserved along with the earliest Vienna Philharmonic concert programs. Each of the gentlemen who conceived this idea brought a musical background, but all three were also interested in politics and were committed to the realization of democratic ideals.

Otto Nicolai (1810–49) was born in Königsberg in East Prussia. After experiencing difficult early years in which his father attempted to make a musical child prodigy out of the young half-orphan, he fled to Berlin at the age of 16 and was taken in and raised by the musician, academic and friend of Goethe, Carl Friedrich Zelter. Nicolai received a position as organist in Rome in 1833 and then came to work as a conductor for one year at the Vienna Court Opera in 1837. He returned to Italy where one of his most important compositions, Il templario, was premiered. Nicolai, highly respected as a conductor, was again engaged by the Vienna Court Opera from 1841–47. When in 1847 the premiere of his opera Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (which remains today his most often played composition) was rejected, the impulsive and temperamental Nicolai decided to accept an offer from Berlin and turned his back on Vienna forever. 

August Schmidt (1808–91) was among Nicolai's patrons in Vienna. His full-time occupation was that of a controller of national finances, but he was also a very successful musician, writer and journalist. In 1841, he founded the Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitung, the paper which also made the first announcement of the new Philharmonic concerts. In 1847, he sold the newspaper due to recurring problems with the censors and from then on wrote as a critic for various other papers. He was a co-founder of the Wiener Männergesang-Verein in 1843 and the Wiener Singakademie in 1858. Both choirs are still in existence today.

Alfred Julius Becher (1803–48), a political activist in addition to being a musician, composer and paralegal, had even in his youth been imprisoned for seditious activities. The fact that one of the co-founders of the Vienna Philharmonic was arrested in 1848 and executed as a revolutionary is today largely forgotten. Becher was the founder of the newspaper Der Radikale and chairman of the Demokratie-Klub as well as other associations pursuing democratic ideals. He advocated for the rights of workers and demanded freedom for the various peoples of the monarchy. After the suppression of the revolution in Vienna, which Becher had supported, he was denounced, arrested, sentenced to death and summarily executed by firing squad in front of the Neutor.

The Philharmonic principles that were instituted in 1842 stipulate that only musicians of the opera orchestra can become members of the Vienna Philharmonic. The musicians organize and present their concerts autonomously and divide the earnings among themselves. A chairman and administrative committee elected from the membership of the orchestra manage the organization's business.

In this manner, the musicians of the 19th century who had been underpaid and enjoyed little prestige gained an opportunity to expand their sphere of artistic activity well beyond their responsibilities at the opera house. From the beginning, the orchestra has displayed a strong social consciousness, characterized by a commitment to individuals in need and the fostering of young musicians. To this day, the orchestra annually performs numerous benefit concerts and develops initiatives for the needy.

Since the orchestra’s founding, the members of the Vienna Philharmonic have always selected conductors of distinction and cultivated performances of the most significant musical repertoire. The musicians appointed Otto Nicolai as their first conductor, who steered the orchestra's destiny until 1847 while personally conducting most concerts. After Nicolai left, few concerts took place. With the introduction of the Subscription Concert Series in 1860 under Carl Eckert, one conductor was engaged for at least one entire season. At the same time, the subscription concert system established an economic foundation which remains to this day. Eckert was followed by Otto Dessoff from 1860–75. Prominent successors included Hans Richter (1875–82 and 1883–98), Gustav Mahler (1898–1901), Felix Weingartner (1908–27), Wilhelm Furtwängler (1927–30) and Clemens Krauss (1930–33). Special artistic relationships developed with many composers and conductors such as Johannes Brahms (premieres of the Second and Third Symphonies), Anton Bruckner (premiere of the Second, Fourth, Sixth and Eighth Symphonies), Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner.

In 1908, the Vienna Philharmonic became an officially recognized association (Verein). In 1924, the first Philharmonic Ball was held in the Musikverein, an event still considered to be one of the highlights of the Viennese carnival season.

In 1933, the orchestra adopted a system of using guest conductors and since that time has not had a principal conductor. The orchestra's most significant conductors at this time were, in addition to Furtwängler and Krauss, Hans Knappertsbusch, Arturo Toscanini and Bruno Walter. The close collaboration with Richard Strauss, who conducted the Vienna Philharmonic from 1906 to 1944, was especially significant. Premieres included Strauss' operas Die Frau ohne Schatten and Die ägyptische Helena (new version) at the Vienna State Opera as well as Die Liebe der Danae and the Second Concerto for Horn at the Salzburg Festival.

Foreign tours began under Gustav Mahler with Vienna Philharmonic appearances during the World Exposition in Paris in 1900. The first overseas journeys took the orchestra to South America in 1922 under Felix Weingartner and in 1923 under Richard Strauss. The first visits to Japan and the US took place in 1956; to the Soviet Union in 1962; to China 1973; to Israel 1988 and to Australia in 2006.

The events of March 1938 brought without a doubt the most fateful break in the history of the Vienna Philharmonic. For the first time since the founding in 1842, the orchestra's democratic principles were suspended following the Anschluss by Nazi-Germany in 1938. Collaboration with Jewish musicians and artists was no longer legally possible and conductors such as Bruno Walter could no longer be invited. Compositions by ostracized composers could no longer be performed. In the following years, five Jewish members of the orchestra were murdered in concentration camps; two died as a consequence of forced evictions; ten others were forced into exile. Eleven musicians considered by the Nazis as "half-Jews" could only remain in the orchestra with special permission and were subject to poorer working conditions and ongoing danger. As a result of a denunciation, one young colleague was sent to the eastern front where he died in battle. The role of the Vienna Philharmonic in the period of National Socialism is the subject of ongoing academic research.

After the end of World War II, some of the previously emigrated conductors returned to the podium of the Vienna Philharmonic, among them Erich Kleiber, Otto Klemperer, George Szell and Bruno Walter. Attaining special prominence have been Honorary Conductors Karl Böhm and Herbert von Karajan as well as Honorary Members Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Lorin Maazel, Georges Prêtre, Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti.

Now 175 years after its founding, the Vienna Philharmonic, which performs over 40 concerts annually in Vienna—among them the New Year's Concert and the Summer Night Concert Schönbrunn—as well as having appeared every summer since 1922 at the Salzburg Festival and playing more than 50 concerts annually on tour around the world, is considered one of the world's leading orchestras. Silvia Kargl

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Vienna Philharmonic press contacts:

Dr. Claudia Kapsamer
Phone +43 664 34615 30, media@wienerphilharmoniker.at

MMag. Georgina Schenner
Phone +43 664 2257413, presse@wienerphilharmoniker.at

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