The Großer Saal des Wiener Musikvereins:
Vienna′s most Legendary Concert Hall
The "Großer Saal des Wiener Musikvereins" (Great Hall of the Vienna Music Society) is a concert hall situated in the first district of Vienna and one of the World′s grand venues for classical concerts. Every Year on the first of January, the traditional "Neujahrskonzert" (New Years′ Concert) is performed here by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
According to some reasonably reliable sources, more than a billion people watch (and listen to) this concert every year in the concert hall or via TV and radio. Therefore, many visitors of Vienna consider a concert there the highlight of their visit to Austria.
The Musikverein was founded in 1812 as "Society of Music Friends in Vienna" - a symptom for the emerging financial confidence and self-awareness of the Viennese middle-class. Since 1831, the society organised concerts in a small hall with only 700 seats. With the growing cultural significance of music performances, the society soon realised that it was in urgent need of a bigger venue.
Wiener Musikverein: New Concert Hall by the Ringstraße
In 1863 - the re-development of the Ringstraße and Imperial madness met their climax - Emperor Franz Joseph I gave a piece of land to the opposite of the Karlskirche to the society. Match this with two other developments here on Karlsplatz Square: The construction of the Künstlerhaus, similarly in historicist style, as a new home to the historicists in fine arts. And the opposition through the construction of the Secession as an exhibition venue for modern artists - in response to the Künstlerhaus and the Imperial establishment.
The construction of the Secession was done with the financial aid of private investors (most notably Ludwig Wittgenstein′s father), and not with the support of the Emperor.
For the construction of the "Musikverein", the society hired one of the most popular Ringstraße architects, Theophil Hansen (he of the Academy of Fine Arts, the Stock Exchange, the Houses of Parliament or the Museum of Applied Arts). He created a massive building in neo-Classical (pseudo-Greek) style, which was officially opened in 1870. The "Goldene Saal", the bigger one of two original halls, was immediately famous for its excellent acoustics. Even today, it is considered to be among the best concert halls of its size in the World.
Wiener Musikverein Today
To some extent, this was luck - professional studies in acoustics were not done until well into the 20th century; when the architect chose proportions, materials, arrangement of decoration and ornaments and the structure of the boxes, he made exactly the right decisions without the theoretic foundations that architects have today.
In 2002, four small concert halls were added in the basement of the Musikverein. Apart from rehearsals and small concerts, they are used for conferences and receptions. They were designed by the Austrian star-architect Wilhelm Holzbauer and named according to the main "ingredient": Glass, metal, stone and wood.
Attractions nearby include the Karlskirche Church, the Wien Museum, the previously mentioned Secession and Künstlerhaus, the Academy of Fine Arts and the Naschmarkt. The Staatsoper, the Albertina and the rest of the Hofburg are within easy reach. So are the Schwarzenbergplatz and the Belvedere Palace and Austrian Gallery.
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