They do not make a living from singing, but in many respects they live for singing. And when they come to rehearsals or concerts in the Musikverein building in Vienna’s Karlsplatz, they are not coming on duty, but rather leaving their duties – from offices, legal chambers, medical practices, classrooms, etc. What unites them is the passion for singing. What they experience is the art of adapting to change. For over 150 years the Vienna Singverein has been proof that amateurs can perform music to the highest standards. Over the years, the Choir of the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna has consistently been ranked among the best concert choirs in the world.
Being an amateur means being a lover. And it was music lovers who, in 1812, founded the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna. It was self-understood that they wanted to cultivate this love not only as listeners but also as practicing musicians. Antonio Salieri, most ambitiously, was engaged as choir master for this “Choir Practice Institute”.
Founded in 1858 as a branch association of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, the Singverein gave the first performances of central works of the choral repertoire, including the “Deutsches Requiem” by Johannes Brahms, the first four movements of which were first presented to the public in 1867, Verdi’s “Ave Maria” during the world premiere of the complete version of the “Quattro pezzi sacri”, Bruckner’s “Te Deum”, Mahler’s 8th Symphony and Franz Schmidt’s oratory “Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln”.
With Johannes Prinz – Choir Master since 1991 – the Singverein entered into the 21st century as a highly sought after, stylistically flexible choir. Today, the choir regularly performs with the most important international conductors, in the current season with Franz Welser-Möst, Sir Simon Rattle, Martin Haselböck, Lorenzo Viotti, Cristian Măcelaru, Stefan Gottfried, Klaus Mäkelä, Daniel Harding, François-Xavier Roth, Christian Thielemann, Yutaka Sado and its director Johannes Prinz.
The Singverein’s artistic home is the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein, where its many commitments have left a decided impression on the concert program. The Wiener Singverein is regularly invited to international guest appearances. In summer 2021 the choir sang the War Requiem at the Salzburg Festival. In the 2017/18 season, it sang the Brahms Requiem with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Herbert Blomstedt in Leipzig, Paris, Vienna, and Tokyo. The Asian tour in autumn 2017 took the choir to China for the first time, where it collaborated with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. Recent appearances at the Salzburg Festival have been with Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel, Christian Thieleman, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and most recently, in 2022 with Franz Welser-Möst.