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On Forbes: The Vienna Symphony's Path Out Of The Shadow

The Vienna Symphony's Path Out Of The Shadow

The Vienna Symphony (VSO) has a proud tradition, but its fame reminds me of the ‘Seem-Giant’ Tur-Tur in Michael Ende’s “Jim Button” books: The further away you are, the bigger he seems; the closer you get, the less imposing he becomes; when you meet him – if you haven’t been scared away – he’s regular size. (He gets a job as a lighthouse in the end.) The Vienna Symphony is the inversion of that. Close up, it’s a great institution, a very fine orchestra with a 115 year history in which it premiered some of the (now) most famous works, including Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, Ravel’s Concerto for Piano Left Hand, and Franz Schmidt’s Book of Seven Seals. (Yes, it’s only the No.2 Orchestra in town, but no harm in that, per se.) From a sufficient distance, meanwhile, the best it can hope for is to be mistaken for the Vienna Philharmonic. It hasn’t always been that way, and it looks like it could change again.

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Philippe Jordan. Picture courtesy of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, © Johannes Ifkovits


MUSE said...

It's a very fine article with nice insights, BUT, the Vienna Symphony - as long as the Vienna Philharmonic is alive - will never make a dent anywhere. The Vienna Philharmonic brand is simply overpowering. The quality of any other orchestra in Vienna is irrelevant - unfortunately. Joshua Bell is a great violinist - he might even be better than the legendary Nicolo Paganini - but, he is NOT Paganini.

jfl said...

Oh, I don't know that. Will the VSO ever overtake the WPh in fame or 'power'? No, it won't. History has cemented-in an advantage for the Philharmonic that no other orchestra can ever overtake.

BUT... it's not the VSO's goal (nor should it be) to be No.1 in town. I think P.Jordan puts it this way: We don't want to be the second WPh in Vienna, we want to be the first VSO.

And it's not THAT difficult to distinguish oneself from the WPh programmatically and also by attitude. In that sense they will most certainly make dents again, if all goes well: Both within Vienna and outside Vienna.