Concentus Musicus Wien was founded in 1953 by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Today, more than 60 years later, the ensemble remains at the forefront of historical performing practice.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt drew the instrumentalists of Concentus Musicus Wien from the ranks of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. They came together as a specialist ensemble to play early music on period instruments, "not for historical but for artistic reasons, since the music of every period can be performed most vividly and convincingly using the resources of the time." The ensemble’s musicians spent more than four years working solely on improving their sound and fine-tuning a suitable number of baroque and pre-baroque works. In 1957 they finally gave their first concert in the Palais Schwarzenberg in Vienna.
Since that time the ensemble has undertaken concert tours throughout Western Europe, America, Japan and Australia. Their first tour of the United States and Canada took place in 1966 and more recently, in 2006 and 2010, they visited Japan..
In 1970 Concentus Musicus Wien began recording the complete Bach cantatas, an ambitious project which was completed in 1989. At the same time, they continued to expand their own concert series at the Vienna Musikverein and to record works by Monteverdi, Purcell, Bach, Handel, Mozart and Strauss. Many of these recordings have earned several different prizes including the coveted Grammy Award. As a result of these countless recordings and concert tours, Concentus Musicus has become the epitome of music-making on authentic instruments
The church concerts at the Styriarte Festival in Stainz have in the meantime become somewhat of a tradition for Concentus Musicus Wien and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. These annual concerts render possible new encounters with the almost inexhaustible repertoire for church music of Mozart and Haydn. The ensemble also regularly participates in opera productions in Vienna (Theater an der Wien), Graz (Styriarte Festival) und Salzburg (Salzburg Festival)
Concentus Musicus Wien continues to appear regularly at the Musikverein in Vienna and to undertake tours throughout the world.