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vienna symphony

Has anyone been to the symphony using the standing room only ticketing?

Posted by
1278 posts

What do you mean referring to "the symphony"?

There is no venue bearing this name, but different symphony orchestras.

Standing room is a matter of the respective concert hall. The audio quality is the same as for seats, but the view may be limited. And you need some stamina, especially if you should attend a lengthy opera.

Posted by
103 posts

Sorry. The Vienna Opera House has the Vienna Symphony playing. Wanted to know if purchasing standing room only tickets were a waste.

Posted by
5230 posts

Sometimes they broadcast to JumboTron screens outside -- FREE music.

Posted by
4062 posts

Not to split hairs, but you are really referring to the Vienna Philharmonic, which is the orchestra based at the Vienna Opera. The Vienna Symphony is based at the Konzerthaus and does not play at the Opera. You need to bring a scarf to mark your place in the standing room section.

Posted by
1469 posts

Rick Steves encourages people to use the standing room only tickets. See his guidebook.

Posted by
103 posts

Thank you Emily for your input. That was helpful. With so many musical options, it's helpful to have clarifications on names and locations. Do you recommend seeing the Vienna Symphony as well as the Vienna Philharmonic?

Posted by
2920 posts

Both of these orchestras are first rate , The Philharmonic's players are drawn from the orchestra of the Staatsoper , and are better known in the public eye . The deciding factor for you will be the programming available during your stay . If , for instance , one choice might be a concert of works by Brahms and Mozart , and another is one of Second Vienna School composers ( Berg , Webern , and Schoenberg ) your choice will depend on how sophisticated your tastes are . It is all good , but the second choice requires an advanced musical awareness for you to appreciate it .

Posted by
4062 posts

Well, the Vienna Philharmonic is considered one of the best orchestras in the world, if not the best. Go see them either at the Opera or the Musikverein (both of which are about the most famous buildings for music in the world).

Posted by
2920 posts

Certainly , Vienna is one of the top tier orchestras in the world , but the best ? Arguably that would be an invidious description , relative to many other well known orchestras . The big five in the States ( NY Philharmonic , Boston , Philadelphia , Cleveland and Chicago Orchestras ) , and European Orchestras - Berlin Philharmonic , Staatskapelle Dresden , and Leipzig Gewandhaus , to name several , all play at the same level as Vienna ( and I'm a big fan of the Vienna Philharmonic ) . One unique aspect of the Vienna orchestra is a certain style of playing which tends to be apparent in performances of classic waltz music ( Strauss family ) , and technical aspects in the orchestra , being the use of Viennese horns and oboes , not used in any other orchestras

Posted by
4062 posts

I think when you combine the orchestra with the venue, you can’t do much better anywhere.

Posted by
2920 posts

Quite true , a combination of the Musikverein and The Vienna Philharmonic is pure " Mit Schlag " - By the way , one of the other delectable combinations is The Boston Symphony Orchestra and its venue , Boston Symphony Hall . While many halls have acoustical shortcomings , ( like Lincoln Center in NY ) Boston 's design is modeled on The Musikverein . Charles McKim , the architect , knew where to look for perfection !

I'm one of those "regulars" getting a standing ticket every other night... They are FANTASTIC if you know to come well in advance to secure a good spot!
Musikverein: buy your ticket in advance, come at least one hour before the concert. Once they open the doors, wait below the staircase either on the right or the left side. You will have to check your jacket and bag. At some point you'll be allowed to wait at the door of the Golden Hall. When the bell rings, RUN for the best spot... Good luck! Aim fo the railing and between columns...
Staatsoper: come a good 2-3 hours in advance. If you're at the front of the line, take a chance with the excellent "Parterre" spots. If not, aim for the less crowded "Galerie". Bring a scarf to tie around the railing and thus "reserve" your spot so you are free to wander around and check your coat and bags (also compulsory).
Volksoper: book standing tickets online. Then coming 30 minutes before the performance is usually more than enough!
Theater an der Wien: 50 standing tickets (25 sold online a week prior, 25 at the box office one hour before the performance). My advice: book online, then queue in the theater about 90 minutes before the show to secure a good spot.
With just a little bit of planning I've had excellent experiences with all of these venues!

Note: standing tickets for the Philharmoniker at the Musikverein are sold directly at the orchestra's office, not at the Musikverein. You can go there or book by phone or online on the Monday before the concert you plan to attend, at 9:30 sharp!

Posted by
613 posts

The last time I was in Vienna (11/19) I attended a delightful concert performed by a sloppy orchestra in a venue withe demonstrably awful acoustics. What made the day was the choice of music and that the audience was mostly drunk and so received the concert with great enthusiasm. .

As for the VPO, its easy to prove it is far from the best orchestra in the world. Just count the number of females in the cast. I've only attended one VPO concert-- Karl Boehm conducting-- and it was a singularly depressing waste of time. The two best concerts I ever attended were both at the Kennedy Center, a notoriously bad acoustic hall: Beethoven's 9th by Haitink & the Concertgebouw and an all Wagner by Frubeck de Burgos and, by universal agreement, the second rate National Symphony.

If your interest in concert going is counting coup, then go stand for 3 hours at the Musikverein and be miserable. If you want a good experience, look first at what's on the program. Then, and only then, consider venue and conductor.

Posted by
1278 posts

As for the VPO, its easy to prove it is far from the best orchestra in the world. Just count the number of females in the cast.

Besides the fact that the VPO is the best orchestra in the world, I don't think that there is any quality issue related to the number of females in the orchestra.

The VPO had performed without females for about 150 years. About thirty years ago criticism of this policy was rising, namely during two tours of the VPO in the US, when suffragettes tried to incite people to boycott the orchestra's performances and records. This negative publicity eventually led to a change.

The criteria for being accepted as a member of the VPO are very strict, ensuring highest standards among the musicians. As far as I can guess the percentage of females in the orchestra is between 10 and 15 percent, slowly increasing.

Posted by
613 posts

wmt1 : Follow the math. Half the population is female. Ergo, if the VPO had the 10 best orchestral violinists in the world in the cast, 5 of them will be female, assuming equal access to studies by sex. In reality, misogamy makes it a certainty that more than half the best will be females. The first 11 chairs of the VPO's 1st violins are male. That's misogamy, and simple probability tells us that better orchestras exist where more equality rules.

Stowkowski founded an all female orchestra whose recordings are more than the equal of any other orchestra of the time.

American orchestras started blind auditions for hiring new members of an orchestra after experiments showed that conductors and male members of the orchestra consistently underrated the quality of female aspirants if they knew they were females. When it comes to hiring competent females, the VPO is 200 years behinds the times and it can help but hurt their quality.

wmt1 wrote: "suffragettes tried to incite people to boycott the orchestra's performances and records" Suffragettes campaigned to get the vote for women. The referenced female boycott effort was by feminists, not suffrages.

In his unsubstantiated claim "that the VPO is the best orchestra in the world", wmt1 studiously avoids my other critique of the VPO. Karl Boehm was the star conductor of the VPO. The orchestra members select the conductor, and they kicked von Karajan out to hire Boehm. In wmt1's book, that made the Boehm/VPO concert I attended the pinnacle of concerts, but it sucked. It was the most boring concert I ever attended, beating out Solti/Chicago slaughtering Mozart because Subvert's "Great" is twice as long as Mozart. The VPO's somnolence inducing performance was not Schubert's fault. Kertez' 40 year old Decca recording of the work will keep everybody on the edge of their seat.

If the VPO is so good, why can't they play Bruckner, the quintessential Austrian composer? I found about 50 available boxes of the Bruckner symphonies on the web, but none by the VPO. If the Sinfonieorchester Aachen can do Bruckner, why can't the VPO?
By universal acclaim among the critics, Naxos' Bruckner Box with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and other obscure outfits, is at or near the top of the Bruckner heap, not the VPO, which isn't even on the map.

There is no question that VPO is one of the world's great orchestras, but the best? Give us a break. In Germany alone, the VPO is no better than the Munich Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony, BPO, and Dresden. Not to mention the afore mentioned Sinfonieorchester Aachen. Tiny little Holland has an orchestra with a better claim to world's best than does the VPO. I have heard both in live performance, and the Dutch win hands down. The VPO isn't even in the game.

Posted by
1150 posts

Wiener Philharmoniker are one of the best orchestras of the world, and they have a very distintive style - due both to the use of their own models of some instruments, and due to the fact that most of their members seem to come from local schools (this is less true since a few years). You do not assemble the best orchestra in the world by choosing twenty of the best violin players of the world and getting three Russians, three Chinese, one Japanese, two Germans, three Americans and so on, each of them playing in their own style. WPh seem to prefer uniformity of style, to the point that most of the string players use instruments owned by the orchestra - this is very unusual - good instruments but not top ones, but very similar in sound. It is a pleasure to see WPh touring with collective violin cases! - WPh could easily be the best orchestra in the world if they weren't a bit too self-complacent. They seem to care only about some top conductors; when playing under what they think are second-rate conductors they seem to play as a still good but somewhat second-rate orchestra. I have heard too many unsatisfactory concerts with WPh at Salzburg Festival that I no more care to look for them.

As for women in the orchestra, they were an all male orchestra - and being so faithful to traditions they tried to remain an all male ensemble as long as possible. They had to change when they were notified that under EU rules they had to begin to immediately hire female players as well, or all their state funding would have been revoked. It looks like female players have not changed the nature of the orchestra; a recent rift between two female flute players shows that adding females does not solve their problems as well.

I should add that even Berliner Philarmoniker now seem to share some of the Vienna problems. - I have recently seen them touring with a Wagner program played with reduced instrumentation - a thing unimaginable to the old Berliner. The best orchestra in the world should not play Siegfried's Funeral March with 14 first violins and without Wagner tubas; such adaptations were made for regional orchestras. It looked like touring business was more important to them than artistic integrity,

Two of the best orchestra I have heard live - and I think I have heard most of the major ones - were the Bayerische Rundfunk under the late Mariss Jansons and the extraordinary St. Petersburg Philharmonic under Temirkanov. It looks like not being the best orchestra of the world lets you concentrate on really making music instead of making money.

Posted by
1278 posts

kb1942:
Your math is not correct. From the fact that half of the population is female you cannot infer that half of the top musicians are also female. (It is worth discussing why women are generally underrepresented e.g. among CEOs, politicians, nobel prize laureates, chefs, painters, composers, and probably musicians. But this is a complete different issue.)

The VPO had and has ever since blind auditions for applicants. This did not change when it was decided about thirty years ago to accept female musicians. Therefore your allegations of present misogyny are off the mark.

The organization of the VPO is that the musicians form an own legal body, allowing them virtually to do what they want (except their obligation to play at the Vienna Opera). So they can choose conductors and decide what CDs they want to produce.

I do not follow the VPO's concerts so closely, but I can remember that the performed Bruckner symphonies with Christian Thielemann several times.

As Karl Böhm passed away 1981, the concert he conducted and you had attended was more than 40 years ago. It is questionable whether one could rate the quality of an orchestra by one incident, and in contrary to the opinion of most experts.

I know what suffragettes are. I used this term ironically to refer to the aggressivity of that anti-VPO campaign which was not well taken in Austria.