The Wiener Männergesang-Verein (Vienna’s oldest male voice choir), formed in 1843 following the example of German “Liedertafeln” (men’s choral associations), was one of the earliest tenants of the Musikverein building. The choral society made history with, among other things, the world premiere of a Strauß waltz composed especially for them; “An der schönen blauen Donau”. An offer from Emperor Franz Joseph to grant this celebrated choir a building plot on the Vienna Ringstraße was turned down by the Männergesang-Verein, who asked for a unique banner to be created for them instead. This was duly commissioned by the Emperor to a design by Theophil Hansen and made using gold embroidery in Bohemia.
The choir were not looking for a home, preferring instead to retain their close relationship with the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. Indeed, the very first list of founding donors for the new Musikverein building, which was published in April 1868, includes the Wiener Männergesang-Verein alongside members of the imperial household and names of the most prominent aristocrats, financiers and industrialists. When the musical temple designed by Theophil Hansen for the site on Karlsplatz granted by the Emperor opened in 1870, the Wiener Männergesang-Verein set up home here too.
As a tenant of the Musikverein, the Wiener Männergesang-Verein performed on the stage of the Großer Musikvereinssaal throughout the year, as it does today, and as early as 1905, it undertook concert tours to Egypt and America. The rooms rented by the choral society in the Musikverein include the choir’s dedicated rehearsal space, the Dumba Saal – named after Nikolaus Dumba, who was Director of the Wiener Männergesang-Verein from 1865 to 1872 and concurrently (1867–1876) Vice President of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna.