The Konzerthaus Vienna, the jewel among the concert halls, is visually somewhat out of place, as the dominant elements of its architecture are Art Nouveau and Historicism, contrary to the otherwise Baroque-influenced Viennese skyline.
Originally, the Konzerthaus was planned as a multipurpose hall that would have been a meeting place for all of Vienna's citizens, as a counterpart to the then rather elitist and traditional Musikverein Wien. Initial designs even included, in addition to the concert rooms, space for the ice-skating club and bicycle club, as well as an outdoor arena for more than 40,000 spectators. The plan was quickly rejected, but the concert hall was designed so generously that concerts can be held simultaneously in the three halls, the Great Hall, the Mozart Hall and the Schubert Hall, without the orchestras having to compete in fortissimo for the attention and favor of their audiences.
The heart of the concert hall is the Great Hall. Its architecture stands for a generous sense of space and classical balance; the somewhat smaller Mozart Hall is famous for its excellent acoustics and charisma.
Emperor Franz Joseph I was present at the opening in 1913, after only two years of construction. Richard Strauss composed his "Festliches Präludium op. 61" especially for the occasion, and Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was performed later in the concert. The deliberately chosen combination of traditional with then modern and new, reflected the cultural vision of the house at that time, which is already evident in the interplay of architectural styles, historicism and the modern elements of Art Nouveau:
"To be a place for the cultivation of noble music, a meeting point of artistic endeavors, a house for music and a house for Vienna."
Tradition and innovation have been the cornerstones of the Konzerthaus' artistic direction ever since. In the, especially in Vienna, wild 20s and 30s, when political and social change transformed people's lives, the Wiener Konzerthaus also provided a cultural home for this new spirit of optimism. In addition to the classical repertoire, the Konzerthaus was home to jazz and folk concerts, readings by famous literary figures, spiritualist lectures, events with expressive dance, and even world fencing and boxing championships were held there.
Unfortunately, in the years between 1938 and 1945, the concert hall was also a venue for Nazi propaganda events, and cultural life was relegated to a shadowy existence.
After the Second World War, the Konzerthaus quickly became the center of contemporary culture again, with many international jazz concerts and festivals, in addition to classical music. And in the process, the Konzerthaus has always remembered its original virtues: to be a demanding host, dealing with its binding tradition, but also offering a stage for innovation, promoting the new and thus opening itself up to a large audience.