The Webern Symphony Orchestra
The Webern Symphonie Orchester is rooted in the long tradition of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, originally founded in 1817 as the “Conservatory of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde”.
Students who wish to participate in the WSO need to play at a high technical level and to have already been through several years of orchestral training. Artistic and pedagogical responsibility for the ensemble is borne by Helmut Zehetner, the University’s professor of orchestral training. Zehetner, himself a member of the Vienna Philharmonic, passes on the unique Viennese sound to the next generation.
The general public can get a sense of this orchestra’s outstanding capabilities several times each year. Their wide range of work includes opera productions, concert performances of the great classical and romantic symphonic repertoire, concert tours, and projects focussing on contemporary music. Important cooperative relationships maintained by the orchestra involve Jeunesse, the festival Wien Modern, and the Conservatoire de Paris—and the orchestra’s annual highlight is its concert at the Vienna Musikverein.
In the past, students have benefitted from working together with prominent guest conductors including Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, Semyon Bychkov, Sir Colin Davis, Bertrand de Billy, Christoph Eschenbach, Zubin Mehta, Luciano Berio, Riccardo Muti, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Kirill Petrenko, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Franz Welser-Möst, a few of whom are themselves graduates of our university.
Former WSO participants now play a key role in cultivating how things sound all across international musical life as members of the world’s most important orchestras, frequently in leading positions.
The University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna views itself as a forward-looking university that builds on tradition—and the Webern Symphonie Orchester embodies the artistic summation of this self-understanding: future-oriented training paired with knowledge of that historically developed, typically Viennese culture of sound which is held in such high esteem the world over.