This orchestra occupies a firm place in the musical pantheon. At the same time, it sees itself as an ambassador of “the world’s musical capital”: the Vienna Philharmonic.

The ensemble was founded in 1842 with musicians from the k.u.k Hofoperntheater, and on March 28 Otto Nicolai conducted the first “Philharmonische Academie,” the orchestra’s first concert.

Another tradition is the Philharmonic Concerts, which have taken place since 1860. The Philharmonic is a fixture at the Salzburg Festival, performing at the opening concert and in several opera productions.

The tradition of the New Year’s Concerts dates back to 1939; since 1941 the concert has been presented on the first of January each year. Today it is one of the most successful global musical events. Every May since 2004, the orchestra has held a free-admission open air concert “for all” at Schönbrunn Palace Park.

The orchestra makes guest appearances on all the world’s major concert stages and has worked with all the renowned conductors. And when, on the first day of each new year, we get goosebumps as we hear the string tremolo with the rising D-major triad in the Vienna horn, for at least the next ten minutes we’re filled with a feeling that can only be experienced with the Vienna Philharmonic: a kind of hopeful joy, even if everything around us is far from rosy. Ad multos annos!

© Gerhard Krammer, ORF - Radio Österreich 1


  • A tradition that continues today: one can only be accepted into the Philharmonic after having spent at least one “trial year” with the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera

  • Artistically, economically, and in terms of organization, the orchestra operates autonomously, with all decisions being made democratically by the general assembly (that is, all active members)

  • 1925 the Philharmonic performs for its first radio broadcast at the Salzburg Festival (W.A. Mozart: Don Giovanni, conductor: Karl Muck)

  • 1955 Willi Boskowski, the concertmaster at the time, takes the reins of the New Year’s Concert, conducting while playing the violin for twenty-five successive years in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Konzerthaus

  • In addition to their duties with the orchestra, many of the Philharmonic’s musicians also perform very successfully in chamber music ensembles with other members

  • Since 2011 the Philharmonic website has published material about the orchestra’s history and the Nazi period; the project, which draws on the orchestral archive as one of its sources, is assisted by historians

  • For ten years the orchestra has also been deeply involved in supporting young and upcoming musicians as part of its Summer Academy during the Salzburg Festival

Did you know?

  • Das Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker 1969 war das erste Ereignis, das im Österreichischen Fernsehen vom ORF in Farbe übertragen wurde.

  • Am 27. Februar 1997 wurde die Harfenistin Anna Lelkes als erste Philharmonikerin in den Verein aufgenommen. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt hatte sie bereits 26 Jahre Orchesterdienst verrichtet.

  • Die Tonträgereinspielung des Neujahrskonzertes 2003 unter Nikolaus Harnoncourt erreichte nach nur sieben Verkaufstagen bereits Doppel-Platin, innerhalb weniger Wochen wurden 90.000 Stück verkauft - ein Rekord!

  • Mit 36 Jahren war Gustavo Dudamel der bislang jüngste Dirigent eines Neujahrskonzertes (2017), Georges Prêtre (1924 - 2017) war 2008 mit immerhin bereits 83 Jahren ältester Debutant!

  • Mit Bobby McFerrin stand erstmals ein Jazzmusiker am Pult der Philharmoniker (15. Dezember 2001)

  • 2012 wurde das Orchester zum ersten Goodwill Ambassador des IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis).

  • Der Wiener Philharmonikerball gehört mit zu den gesellschaftlichen Höhepunkten im Fasching der österreichischen Bundeshauptstadt, er findet in den Sälen des Wiener Musikvereines statt, ebenso an einem Donnerstag, wie der Opernball.