The ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra is a top orchestra of world renown; the orchestra defines itself in the Vienna orchestral tradition. Cornelius Meister took over as Principal Conductor and Artistic Director in September 2010. The Vienna RSO is known for its exceptional, bold programming. By combining nineteenth century repertoire with contemporary pieces and rarely performed works of other time periods, our programming often places Romantic era classics in unexpected contexts.
All of our performances are broadcast over radio, particularly on Österreich 1, but also internationally. For the past several years, one has been able to hear each and every RSO concert across the globe on the internet for one week after the initial broadcast. Through our growing presence on European television, as well as our collaboration with the FM4 young people's station, the RSO is constantly reaching out to new music lovers. Numerous enthusiastic supporters have become members of our "Friends of the RSO" association.
The RSO regularly performs on two subscription series in the Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus. The number of subscribers to these series has increased significantly of late. In addition, the RSO appears annually at major Austrian and international festivals. The orchestra has close ties to the Salzburg Festival, the Wiener Festwochen, Wien Modern, and musikprotokoll im steierischen herbst, which provides a platform for the performance of new and experimental music. Tours to Japan and China are a regular part of the RSO schedule as well. The orchestra has also concertised in the USA and South America. Our most recent tours have taken us to the Berlin and Cologne Philharmonic Halls, the Alte Opera in Frankfurt, and the Tonhalle in Düsseldorf. Since 2007, the RSO has successfully collaborated with the Theater an der Wien, thereby gaining an excellent reputation as an opera orchestra. Yet the RSO is also entirely at home in the film music genre. Every year, the RSO is conducted by composers who have won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures. In 2012, the RSO recorded the soundtrack to the film, Die Vermessung der Welt (Measuring the World).
Leonard Bernstein, Ernest Bour, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Gielen, Ingo Metzmacher, Andris Nelsons, Kirill Petrenko, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Guiseppe Sinopoli, Hans Swarowsky, Jeffrey Tate, and Simone Young are among the guests who have stood on the podium of the Vienna RSO. Composers Luciano Berio, Friedrich Cerha, Peter Eötvös, Hans Werner Henze, Ernst Krenek, Bruno Madera and Krzysztof Penderecki have all conducted the orchestra. Internationally renowned soloists who make regular appearances with the Vienna RSO include Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Martin Grubinger, Hilary Hahn, Patricia Kopachinskaya, Lang Lang, Sabine Meyer, Heinrich Schiff, and Christian Tetzlaff.
The broad scope of our recording activities includes works in every genre, among them many first recordings that represent modern Austrian classicists and contemporary Austrian composers. This is how the "Neue Musik aus Österreich" series of CD recordings came about. Orchestral works by Friedrich Cerha, the recording of all nine symphonies by Egon Wellesz, orchestra music by Josef Matthias Hauer, and first recordings of music by Erich Zeisl are all part of this series. Among the last released recordings were the twenty-four CD set "my RSO" as well as high praised recordings with pieces from Anton Bruckner, Richard Strauss and Béla Bartók.
The Vienna RSO has initiated a broad-based educational programme. It is comprised of workshops for children and young people, as well as the "Mitten in my RSO", "my RSO Musiklabor", and "Klassische Verführung" concert series. Highly talented musicians have been admitted to our very own RSO orchestra academy since 1997. The Vienna RSO plays regularly for the final concerts of the conducting classes at the Vienna University of Music. In 2013 the educational project "My RSO – Greatest Hits for Contemporary Orchestra" was awarded the Bank Austria Kunstpreis in the category Kunstvermittlung.
In 1969, the Vienna RSO grew out of the main orchestra of the Austrian Radio. Under the leadership of its chief conductors, Milan Horvat, Leif Segerstam, Lothar Zagrosek, Pinchas Steinberg, Dennis Russell Davies, and Bertrand de Billy, the orchestra has continuously expanded its repertoire amid growing international renown.