The Singverein of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna is among the best concert choirs in the world and regularly works together with the leading conductors of our time – These include Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Chailly, Gustavo Dudamel, Vladimir Fedosejev, Mariss Jansons, Philippe Jordan, Zubin Mehta, Cornelius Meister, Riccardo Muti, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Sir Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann and Franz Welser-Möst. Johannes Prinz has been Artistic Director of the choir since 1991.
The Singverein was founded as far back as 1858, when the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde voted to undertake a complete reorganisation of its musical life. Whereas instrumental music had already been given over entirely to professionals, choral music was to remain the domain of amateur music lovers – albeit in a new and highly efficient form. Thus the Singverein was created as a branch association of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. With the young conductor Johann Herbeck, the newly formed choir set the highest of standards from the very outset, making it a much sought-after interpreter of major premiere performances. Thus it was the Singverein that in 1867 premiered the first three movements of Brahms’ Requiem, that sang the first complete performance of Verdi’s “Quattro pezzi sacri” in 1898, and that formed the premiere choir for Bruckner’s “Te Deum”, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and Franz Schmidt’s “Book with Seven Seals”.
1947 marked the beginning of a significant chapter in the Singverein’s history, when Herbert von Karajan worked with the choir for the first time. Karajan made the Singverein his choir and accompanied it as conductor over four decades, appearing at c. 250 concerts in Europe, Japan and the USA and producing countless audio and video recordings.
The Wiener Singverein has produced noteworthy recordings with Pierre Boulez, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Christian Thielemann, performing for the first time at the New Year Concert with the Vienna Philharmonic in 2017.
The Singverein of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde still embodies the founding ethos of the Musikverein: It is the practising members, the “amateurs”, who come together in this choir as friends of music, who have other professional lives and yet do far more than “spare time” singing. A motto of the choir is “Singing is not our job, it is our passion”.