100 years of Vienna's Konzerthaus
Vienna's Konzerthaus, one of the city's most popular cultural institutions, is starting its 100th season. Until it actually celebrates its 100th birthday on 19 October 2013, the venerable concert hall will be celebrating its anniversary with a programme that leaves nothing to be desired in terms of variety and colour. This temple of culture in Vienna's third district will be welcoming well-wishers with music ranging from classical and jazz to contemporary works, as well as literature, children’s events and numerous other treats.
What happened 100 years ago?
In 1911, Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Gottlieb Helmer, both well-known theatre architects from the time when many of the monuments along the Ringstraße were built, submitted their designs for the magnificent Konzerthaus building. After two years of construction, the building was ceremoniously opened with a gala concert on 19 October 1913. The concert's programme reflected the Konzerthaus's stated policy of maintaining musical traditions while at the same time promoting new and innovative trends in art, and the Konzerthaus has always remained faithful to its essential purpose of making music available to everybody.
What can we expect?
To put the coming season into figures: a total of about 460 events (compared to 360 in the 2007/08 season) and 42 subscription series featuring 338 events await audiences, with numerous artistic genres represented. Orchestral and chamber works, early and modern music, jazz, world music, lectures, podium discussions, film screenings and special children’s events are all on the programme.
Konzerthaus regulars are very familiar with the variety and consistent quality of the programmes there. To celebrate the centenary, however, there is a small surprise in store even for hard-core fans, with six new subscription series to be discovered. The "PHACE" series shows once again how important promoting the contemporary music scene is for the Konzerthaus. The ensemble of the same name boasts more than 140 world premieres in their performance history. Furthermore, for the first time in the history of the institution, there is a separate series for percussion, with percussion superstar Martin Grubinger playing a key role in the concerts. Meanwhile, you can enjoy music from all over the world - from klezmer and fado to flamenco - in the "World" concert series, while in "Gansch anders" you are free to laugh along with comic trumpeter Thomas Gansch.
Who is joining the celebrations?
For such an important anniversary, it's no wonder that the hordes of well-wishers include plenty of high-profile names. The renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim has his own reason for celebrating, since he first performed in the Konzerthaus 60 years ago. He will be appearing in May 2013 with the Vienna Philharmonic to celebrate the anniversary of his debut. Popular opera stars Patricia Petibon, Rolando Villazón and Jonas Kaufmann will be enchanting audiences with arias, while the Hagen Quartet and the Jess Trio are just two of the many chamber music ensembles taking to the stage. Fans of orchestral music will be in their element in May and June 2013, when the Berlin Philharmonic and the New Year Philharmonic are performing at the Konzerthaus, and jazz enthusiasts can look forward to appearances by Sonny Rollins and Branford Marsalis.
Naturally, the 100th season in the Konzerthaus has plenty of other things to offer. A particularly romantic special deal has been dreamt up for Valentine's Day, for example - on 14 February 2013, members of the online dating site Parship.at can take advantage of discounted ticket prices and so have the chance to find a partner with the same cultural interests. And here is a tip for all those who have already found their other half and are expecting a baby - the "Sing Along" concert series includes a "Lullaby Special" for the first time this season, when new mothers and fathers can practise lullabies for use at home. There is also something for slightly older children in this anniversary year - in the newly published picture book Heute gehen wir ins Konzerthaus (We're going to the Konzerthaus today), two children set off on an exciting journey through the Konzerthaus in search of a lost violin bow.
The Konzerthaus will have no problems surviving the next 100 years as an institution combining tradition and charm. Artistic director Bernhard Kerres is certainly satisfied with what has been achieved so far. Visibly moved, he says that such an impressive anniversary makes you realise just how worthy of reverence the Konzerthaus is, and how insignificant we ourselves are in comparison.