Vienna Symphony Orchestra


Vienna Symphony OrchestraThe Vienna Symphony Orchestra (founded 1900) is the concert orchestra of the City of Vienna, being responsible for the greater part of the musical life of the capital city. Its activities are diverse, whereby the traditional cultivation of the Viennese sound quality combined with new forms of music and their presentation occupy a central position.


At the close of the nineteenth century the time seemed right for the founding of a new Viennese orchestra. Its function was to be two-fold; to present orchestral concerts of a popular kind and, in addition, to provide a platform for the world premieres of the contemporary music of the time. In October 1900 the newly formed orchestra, with the name Vienna Concert Society, gave its first public performance at the Musikverein under the direction of Ferdinand Löwe.


During the First World War, the orchestra was saved from being disbanded only by a fusion with the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra, founded in 1913. In 1944 however, the orchestra's activities came to a halt for eight months.


Carlo Maria GiuliniIn the years following 1945, thanks to the efforts of the Principal Conductor Hans Swarowsky and Josef Krips, the orchestra was rebuilt. In the past, renowned personalities such as Bruno Walter, Richard Strauss, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Oswald Kabasta, George Szell and Hans Knappertsbusch left decisive imprints on the orchestra. In later years it was mainly the Principal Conductors Herbert von Karajan (1950-1960) and Wolfgang Sawallisch (1960-1970) who formed the tone quality of the orchestra.


Following them, the position was filled – after the brief return of Josef Krips – by Carlo Maria Giulini and Gennadij Roshdestvenskij. George Prêtre followed until 1991, preferring to describe his post as "Principal Guest Conductor". His successor was Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.


During these years, guest stars such as Leonard Bernstein, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Claudio Abbado and Sergiu Celibidache celebrated their many notable successes. From 1997 until the end of 2004, the Principal Conductor was a Vladimir Fedosejev, and commencing with the 2005/2006 season, the post has been filled by Fabio Luisi. Additionally, Yakov Kreizberg has been Principal Guest Conductor since October 2003.


Photo on the occasion of the concert for United Nations Day 2000The Vienna Symphony makes approximately 160 appearances each year with concerts and opera performances. These are arranged by the Musikverein, the Konzerthaus and, since 1980, by the orchestra itself with four different concert series. In addition, numerous tours are undertaken throughout Europe and overseas countries. Furthermore, the orchestra has been "Orchestra in Residence" at the Bregenz since 1946, where it performs in a majority of opera and concert productions at the Bregenz Festival.


The Vienna Symphony has a close relation to the United Nations. Under conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch the orchestra made a tour of the United States and Japan in 1967. During this tour the orchestra performed for the first time at the United Nations. In 1975 again a special performance was given for United Nations Day under conductor Carlo Maria Giulini.


On United Nations Day 2000 the Vienna Symphony performed in the General Assembly Hall, with Vladimir Fedoseyev conducting. It was presented as a tribute to the Millennium Assembly on the centennial of the Vienna Symphony. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was present to accept the tribute and deliver his message for United Nations Day (UN Photo 205166C).




Stamp catalogue


Austria                                15 September 2000









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last revised: 28 March 2010