The Konzerthaus Vienna (Wiener Konzerthaus) is one of the most important cultural institutions in Vienna and has been especially focusing on jazz and modern music for the last decades.
History of the Konzerthaus - A cultural institution for a broad audience
At the end of the 19th century, the Viennese population dreamed of a new house for music festivals, which should address the interests of a broad audience as a multi-purpose building. The first idea came from architect Ludwig Baumann, who intended the construction of a large "Olympion", which should also accommodate the skating club as well as the Bicycleclub in addition to its numerous rooms for concerts. Moreover, it was also supposed to include an open-air arena for 40.000 spectators.
Baumann's ambitious plans were dashed though, but nevertheless he could play a decisive role in the construction of today's Wiener Konzerthaus. Together with the most famous theatre architects of the time, Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer, he designed the concert halls so that concerts can be performed in all three halls (Great Hall, Mozart Hall and Schubert Hall) without interfering the events mutually. Only 200 meters from the traditional Wiener Musikverein, the Konzerthaus was finally built during the years 1911-1913.
After a relatively short construction period, it was finally opened with a festive concert on October 19th, 1913 in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph I. For the opening ceremony, Richard Strauss had especially created his work "Festive Prelude, Op. 61". Also Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony" was performed on that occasion.
Revival of the Austrian cultural landscape & international establishment
In the years of the Second World War, the Wiener Konzerthaus was abused by the Nazis for propaganda purposes. However, after 1945 the Konzerthaus played a major role in the revival of Austrian musical life. Quickly it established itself as a leading organizer of contemporary music and is now known as Vienna’s most famous stage for international jazz events.
Image: (c) Herbert Schwingenschlögl