The Vienna Symphony Orchestra
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 Lowe.
During the First World War, the orchestra was saved from being disbanded only by a fusion with the Vienna Tonkunstler Orchestra, founded in 1913. In 1944 however, the orchestra's activities came to a halt for eight months. In 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 Furtwangler, 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 Pretre followed until 1991, preferring to describe his post as "Principal Guest Conductor". His successor was Rafael Fruhbeck 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 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.
The Vienna Symphony Orchestra 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. 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. In 2006, a new challenge arises as the orchestra will perform in many productions at the Theater an der Wien which is to resume its former function as an opera house.