Society of the Friends of Music

   / Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde
   Founded in 1812 by music lovers from both aristocratic and bourgeois circles, the Society was to revive Viennese music life, which had declined badly during the Napoleonic Wars and the French occupation. Conceived as a private organization, members were entitled to professionally prepared concerts of serious music as part of their subscription price. The number of subscribers expanded rapidly in the first decades of the 19th century, making the “private” nature of the society something of an affectation. Tickets were not, however, available at the door. Connected to the society was a conservatory open to its members. From the outset, the society made it clear that it would promote serious, rather than popular, music. Even in its first years, it programmed whole symphonies by eminent composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Luigi Cherubini, along with the selections from Italian operas and other vocal pieces that were the conventional concert fare of the day. The present home of the society, the Musikverein building, was designed by Theophile Hansen, the architect of many prominent buildings on the Ringstrasse. It was opened in 1870. In the same year, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, which shares some of its personnel with the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, began holding its subscription concerts there.
   With some of Europe’s most notable composers and performers on past membership lists, the society has one of the most important musical archives in the world. Its conservatory has been incorporated into Austria’s University for Music and the Performing Arts.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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