Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna, (Wiener Philharmoniker), one of the most famous symphony orchestras of the world, founded by O. Nicolai (together with A. Schmidt and A. J. Becher) at the beginning of 1842, emerging from a union of musicians of the court opera orchestra (the members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra are still recruited from the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera). The first philharmonic concert took place in the Großer Redoutensaal hall in Vienna on March 28, 1842. Subscription concerts have been performed since 1860 (in the Großer Musikvereinssaal concert hall since 1870). The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performed outside Vienna for the first time at the first Salzburg music festival in 1877 (Salzburg is still an important performance venue during the festival season). Long-term conductors include F. O. Dessoff (1860-1875), H. Richter (1875-1898), G. Mahler (1898-1901), J. Hellmesberger jr. (1901-1903), F. Weingartner (1908-1927), W. Furtwängler (1927-1930, "main conductor" 1938-1945 and 1947-1954) and C. Krauss (1930-1933). In the intervening years and since 1954 the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has been managed by guest conductors. - The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra went on its first tour abroad (Paris) in 1900.
10-11 subscription concerts, the Nicolai-concert (since 1887) and the traditional New Year's Concert (performed on New Year's Eve in 1939, since 1941 held on New Year's Day) are performed every year. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra ball, which has taken place annually at the Musikverein since 1924, is one of the main social events of the Viennese ball season. Outstanding personalities emerging from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra include A. Nikisch, H. Richter, Franz Schmidt and A. Rosé.
The repertory still focuses on classical symphony (J. Haydn, W. A. Mozart, L. v. Beethoven) and is complemented by Austrian symphonic music of the 19th century. Strict selection procedures, homogeneous training of musicians, tradition and the capacity to modulate the orchestra guarantee the worldwide reputation of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, which uses a slightly elevated pitch in comparison to the standard pitch of a´ = 440 Hz.
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has been an independent association with basic democratic structures ("democracy of kings") and has accepted women musicians in the orchestra since 1997 (first female member A. Lelke, harp). It awards an honorary ring (R. Serkin, L. Bernstein, C. Krauss, W. Schneiderhan, H. v. Karajan, K. Böhm et al.) for outstanding merit.
Literature: C. Hellsberg, Demokratie der Könige, 1992.