23th July to 25th August 2014

The Vienna Symphony Orchestra

Orchestra Concerts

War Requiem

The composer Benjamin Britten was an early conscientious objector in conservative England. No wonder that his War Requiem, completed in 1962, carries a pacifist message. In it, moving poems by Wilfred Owen, who was killed while serving in the First World War, are woven together with excerpts from the Latin text of the mass for the dead. The result is a meditative collage about the senselessness of war and violence. The long requiem, scored for choir, boys' choir, soprano, two male soloists, large orchestra and chamber orchestra, is one of the central oratorios of the 20th century.

It was first performed in Coventry's rebuilt cathedral, which had been destroyed by Luftwaffe bombs in the Second World War. Yet Britten remains hopeful: the fictive encounter between two enemy soldiers at the end carries a humanitarian message. Under the baton of the young Swiss conductor Philippe Jordan – music director of the Paris Opera and future chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra – the Prague Philharmonic Choir, the Bregenz Festival Chorus and Wilten Boys' Choir join forces in a poignant anti-war statement.

28 July – 7.30 p.m., Festspielhaus

Duration: 1½ hours, no interval

Conductor: Philippe Jordan
Oksana Dyka
Allan Clayton
Michael Volle

Prague Philharmonic Choir
Bregenz Festival Chorus
Wilten Boys' Choir
Choral directors: Lukáš Vasilek, Benjamin Lack and Johannes Stecher

  • Benjamin Britten: War Requiem, op. 66

Introductory talk in the Festspielhaus one hour before the concert begins, price: EUR 7

4 August – 7.30 p.m., Festspielhaus (Change in the programme)

Duration: 2 hours, incl. interval

Conductor: Claus Peter Flor
Jeroen Berwaerts
Banjo: Mats Bergström
Accordion: Claudia Buder

  • Johann Strauss (the Younger): Perpetuum Mobile, op. 257
  • Hk Gruber: Charivari
  • HK Gruber: „Busking“ – Concert for trumpet, accordion, banjo and string orchestra
  • Franz Schmidt: Symphony No. 4 in C

Introductory talk in the Festspielhaus one hour before the concert begins, price: EUR 7

Bewitching melodies

Franz Lehár is known to every lover of music for his operetta The Merry Widow, which was a success all over the world. What the Austrian-Hungarian composer wrote apart from works for the stage is hardly known at all, however. For this reason, Ulf Schirmer, general music director and artistic director of Leipzig Opera, has turned the spotlight onto two neglected orchestral works. In the first of them, the symphonic poem Fever for tenor and orchestra, composed in 1915 in the middle of the First World War, a dying soldier looks back on his life: a powerful drama in miniature. The famous Strauss waltz The Blue Danube, a regular fixture at New Year's concerts, finds an elegant pendant in Franz Lehár's waltz The Grey Danube, composed in 1921 and originally entitled Donaulegenden. The concert closes with Alexander Zemlinsky's symphonic poem Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid), which was premiered in 1905 by the Wiener Concert-Verein – precursor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra – conducted by the composer. While he was working on the piece in 1905, the prevailing style in Vienna was an opulent orchestral sound on the threshold of modernism. The symphonic fantasy is inspired by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, which Zemlinsky expertly transforms into ravishing music.

11 August – 7.30 p.m., Festspielhaus

Conductor: Ulf Schirmer
Nikolai Schukoff

Duration: 2 hours, incl. interval

  • Johann Strauss (the Younger): Tales from the Vienna Woods, op. 325
  • Franz Lehár: Fever – symphonic poem for tenor and orchestra, No. 5 from the song cycle Aus eiserner Zeit
  • Franz Lehár: The Grey Danube, NV 12
  • Alexander von Zemlinsky: Die Seejungfrau

Introductory talk an hour before the performance begins, Price 7 Euro.


Cat. 1 Cat. 2 Cat. 3 Cat. 4Cat. 5
Euro 75 58 46 3122

Vienna Symphony Orchestra Day

Since 1946, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra has been the orchestra in residence at the Bregenz Festival. It performs there every summer in the opera productions on the lake stage and in the Festspielhaus, and also gives several of the concerts in the festival's orchestral concert programme. The Vienna Symphony Orchestra gave its first concert in October 1900 at the Vienna Musikverein. Works that are today firmly established in the repertoire like Anton Bruckner's Ninth Symphony, Arnold Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder, Maurice Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand and Franz Schmidt's The Book with Seven Seals were given their world premiere by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In the course of its history the orchestra has been decisively influenced by such eminent conductors as Bruno Walter, Richard Strauss, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Oswald Kabasta, George Szell and Hans Knappertsbusch. In the last few decades it's above all the chief conductors Herbert von Karajan, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Carlo Maria Giulini, Georges Prêtre and Fabio Luisi who have moulded the orchestra's sound. At this year's Bregenz Festival, Philippe Jordan, chief conductor designate of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the orchestra in a concert of Britten's War Requiem. The Vienna Symphony Orchestra gives more than 150 concerts and opera performances per season, most of which take place in Vienna's renowned concert halls, the Musikverein and the Konzerthaus. Since 2006, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra has additionally played in many opera productions at the Theater an der Wien, underscoring its very prominent role in the musical life of Vienna. 

3 August – 2 – 5 p.m.,
in and around the Festspielhaus

Ensembles with members of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra perform a wide variety of works from music history and invite you to linger and listen. For the first time, workshops for children will be offered too.

Admission free

Festival Mass

27 July – 9.30 a.m., Parish church of St Gallus

Music director: Benjamin Lack

Bregenz Festival Chorus

Admission free