ACO Librarian Bernard Rofe explores the programming of our Vienna performances and the city's place in musical history.
After five outstanding concerts in London, Espoo, Helsinki, Munich and Zurich, the Orchestra concluded its 2017 European Tour with two concerts at the Vienna Konzerthaus – one of the world's great concert venues.
There are few places as important to classical music as Vienna. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms (only to name a few) have all lived and composed in Vienna, and today the city boasts a revered performing tradition that includes the Vienna State Opera, Vienna Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. Housing these lauded ensembles are some of the finest performance venues in the world, including Vienna's Konzerthaus.
Constructed in 1913, the Konzerthaus embraces tradition and innovation both in its architecture (combining Historism, Secessionism and Art Nouveau styles) and the music performed within (spanning the classical and contemporary). The Konzerthaus is central to the city's reputation as one of the world’s leading artistic capitals, and its mission is "To act as a venue for the cultivation of fine music, as a meeting point for artistic endeavour, as a home for music and a cultural centre for Vienna."
The lavish Großer Saal (Great Hall), which seats over 1,800 people, is adorned in red and gold, with marble pillars and crystal chandeliers completing its luxurious interior. The acoustic is especially favourable for the ACO, carrying the sound of the chamber orchestra to the furthest reaches of the hall with a beautiful clarity.
For these very special concerts, the ACO is performing music by no less than the three greatest composers in history – Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.
Bach is often considered the greatest composer of all time and was an enormous influence over Mozart and Beethoven. His mastery of harmony and counterpoint is unrivalled, culminating in The Art of Fugue – his final work, which remains unfinished. In the spirit of the Konzerthaus's mission, Richard Tognetti's innovative arrangement of the first four fugues will treat Viennese audiences to these old favourites with a fresh new twist!
It seems hard to imagine today, but Mozart was at the forefront of musical innovation during his lifetime, perfecting the Classical style as we know it today. Mozart premiered his 15th piano concerto in Vienna in 1784 as the piano soloist, and on this tour the ACO is joined by a very special guest, Pierre-Laurent Aimard – one of the world's great pianists.
The ACO caps off these concerts with Beethoven's Op.130 string quartet, which was first performed in Vienna in 1826. As in 1826, the ACO will perform the quartet's original final movement – the enormous Große Fuge.
The Orchestra has had so much fun performing around Europe, and are looking forward to returning to Australia for a national tour of Bach's Christmas Oratorio.
The ACO are now en route back to Australia, where they will be joined by the Choir of London for a national tour of Bach's Christmas Oratorio.