Over the years I have been fortunate to hear concerts performed in some of the greatest concert halls in the world. Especially when I worked as the great conductor Leonard Bernstein’s assistant. It was my good fortune to travel around the world and hear him perform with the greatest musicians in some of the greatest concert halls. I will upfront say that I have not been in every concert hall in the world and this is a very personal selection and in no order of ranking. So I will share my stories about those that I love the most.
It will come as no surprise to music lovers that I return to Vienna for another of my favorite concert halls.
Vienna is known as the city of music and is blessed to have excellent venues for musical performances. Vienna is known for the Musikverein and the Vienna Konzerthaus.
I have previously written about the Musikverein, but no less important to me is the Vienna Konzerthaus.
A short walk of 400 meters separates the two venues. How fortunate for the Viennese.
The Vienna Konzerthaus was opened in 1913 and reflects the Art Nouveau style of the time. Though partly destroyed during renovations the building was restored from original sketches in the 1970 and completely renovated between 1997 and 2000.
The Vienna Konzerthaus has four performing venues within its walls. The Grosser Saal (1840 seats); The Mozartsall (704 seats); The Schubetsaal (360 seats), and The Berio Sall (400 seats).
It is the Grosser Saal that I most familiar with. It is a beautiful space with wonderful acoustics.
And it is here that I have attended and heard wonderful concerts by the Vienna Symphony, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, two performances of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS – one by the Tonkunstler conducted by Krystian Jarvi and most recently a performance by the ORF conducted by Dennis Russell Davies.
It is also in this hall where I heard Leonard Bernstein conduct the Vienna Philharmonic on numerous occasions, which included memorable performances of Sibelius Symphony No. 5 and Symphony No. 7.
This Vienna Konzerthaus is also where he filmed his performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8: The Symphony of a Thousand, with the Vienna Philharmonic.
Many things make the Vienna Konzerthaus special, the architecture, the ease of movement in the public spaces, the kind ushers and staff, but one of the most interesting aspects of the profile of it – the interesting and varied programming.
It presents not just the traditional classic music, but jazz and festivals of a diverse nature.
In the front of the Vienna Konzerthaus are two plaques – one in honor of Gustav Mahler and the other honoring Leonard Bernstein. It seems fitting that these two musicians who are linked are honored by the Vienna Konzerthaus.
When in Vienna use the chance to experience a concert in the remarkable Vienna Konzerthaus – one night, and then walk the 400 meters and experience a concert in the Musikverein – you won’t be disappointed!