Respect for tradition
176 years ago, on 28 March 1842, Otto Nicolai raised the baton for the first ever concert of a new ensemble destined to become one of the world’s great orchestras. With its unmistakable sound, the Vienna Philharmonic has always been defined by its unswerving commitment to the great German tradition of orchestral playing.
The first Photo of The Vienna Philharmonic (1864)Deutsche Grammophon
Earliest photo of the Vienna Philharmonic (Vienna, 1864)
A special relationship
The Philharmonic’s close assocation with Richard Strauss was one of enormous importance and represents one of the many high points in the orchestra’s eventful history.
In 1938, political reality hit Vienna Philharmonic in the most brutal of manners. Following the Anschluss, the Nazi Party dismissed all Jewish artists from the Vienna State Opera and dissolved the Association of the Vienna Philharmonic. With the intervention of Wilhelm Furtwängler and other individuals the dissolution order was rescinded and, with two exceptions, those musicians classified by the Nazis as “half-Jews” or as “Jewish-related”, were not dismissed from the Vienna State Opera Orchestra (from which the Philharmonic’s players are selected). However, five members of the orchestra died in concentration camps, and two died in Vienna as a direct result of persecution and attempted deportation.
After World War II the orchestra continued a policy initiated in 1933 of working with every conductor of repute. Central to the orchestra’s post-war history are its artistic collaborations with its two honorary conductors Karl Böhm and Herbert von Karajan, and with its honorary member Leonard Bernstein.
Vienna Philharmonic (1948)Deutsche Grammophon
Herbert von Karajan recorded Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony no fewer than five times in the course of his long career. The fifth and last of these recordings was made with the Vienna Philharmonic in February 1985 as part of his final contract with the orchestra.
Leonard Bernstein (1966)Deutsche Grammophon
Leonard Bernstein, who made his first recording with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1966, set down complete cycles of the Brahms symphonies and concertos with the orchestra during the 1980s.
Claudio Abbado (2008) by © Max JacobyDeutsche Grammophon
Claudio Abbado made his first recording with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1973. Joined at the Musikverein by soloist Nathan Milstein, they recorded the masterpiece that is Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor.
Karl Böhm by © Siegfried LauterwasserDeutsche Grammophon
Between 1972 and 1979 Karl Böhm recorded Mozart’s complete wind concertos with the Vienna Philharmonic. At the conductor’s equest, all the soloists were drawn from the ranks of the orchestra.
Anne-Sophie Mutter, Vienna Philharmonic, James Levine: Carmen-Fantasie (1976)Deutsche Grammophon
To date, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter has recorded three albums with the Vienna Philharmonic – two with Herbert von Karajan and one with James Levine – achieving enormous artistic and commercial success on each occasion. This playful reading of Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen” was made at the Vienna Musikverein in November 1992.
Vienna Philharmonic on New Year's Concert 2006 by © Regina Recht / DGDeutsche Grammophon
The New Year Concerts are a real highlight of the partnership between the Vienna Philharmonic and the Yellow Label.
Text by: Dr. Ewald Markl
Dr. Clemens Hellsberg
Translation: Bettina Wohlert