The ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra is a top orchestra of world renown; it defines itself in the Vienna orchestral tradition. It is known for its exceptional, bold programming: By combining nineteenth-century repertoire with contemporary pieces and rarely performed works of other periods, the programming often places Romantic era classics in unexpected contexts. The Vienna RSO grew out of Austrian radio’s main orchestra in 1969. Under the leadership of its chief conductors, Milan Horvat, Leif Segerstam, Lothar Zagrosek, Pinchas Steinberg, Dennis Russell Davies, Bertrand de Billy and Cornelius Meister, the orchestra has continuously expanded its repertoire, gaining growing international renown. Marin Alsop took over as Chief Conductor in September 2019.
The Vienna RSO regularly performs in two subscription series in Vienna, in the Musikverein and the Konzerthaus. In addition, it appears every year at major Austrian and international festivals. The orchestra has close ties to the Salzburg Festival, musikprotokoll at steirischer herbst and Wien Modern. Tours to Japan and China are a regular part of the Vienna RSO schedule as well. The orchestra has also played concerts in Thailand and Taiwan as well as the USA, South America, Spain and Germany at the Berlin, Cologne and Essen Philharmonic Halls and at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg among others. Since 2007, the Vienna RSO has successfully collaborated with the Theater an der Wien, thereby gaining an excellent reputation as an opera orchestra.
The broad scope of the Vienna RSO’s recording activities includes works in every genre, among them many first recordings that represent modern Austrian classicists and contemporary Austrian composers. In 2019 the Live-recording of Gottfried von Einem‘s Der Prozess, performed at the Salzburg Festival 2018, was awarded the Diapason d’Or and the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. In 2018 the Vienna RSO won the renowned ICMA in the category Symphonic Music for its 3-CD-set Martinů: The Symphonies.
The Vienna RSO has also launched a broad-based educational programme, comprising workshops for children and young people, as well as the “Inside my RSO”, “my RSO music lab”, and “Classical Temptation” concert series. Highly talented musicians have been admitted to the orchestra’s own academy since 1997.