The Wiener Jeunesse Orchester (WJO), founded by Manfred Honeck in 1987, can look back on 35 years of musical activity in October of 2022. The ensemble, which brings together students of the music universities and conservatories of all Austrian states aged 18 to 26, and quickly established itself as the leading youth symphony orchestra in Austria. The young musicians regularly participate in festivals in Austria and abroad, such as Klangbogen Wien, the Wiener Festwochen and the Salzburg Festival. In August 2018 the WJO undertook a concert tour of Romania; in September 2019 it performed at the anniversary concert “70 Years of Jeunesse”. Its repertoire incorporates mainly great Austrian symphonic music by Bruckner and Mahler, but also Antonín Dvořák, Richard Strauss and Franz Schmidt. An important place in its repertoire is reserved for Austrian contemporary composers, from whom the orchestra regularly commissions world premieres. Herbert Böck has been the WJO’s chief conductor since 1989.
Herbert Böck began his music education as a member of the Vienna Boys’ Choir, subsequently studying oboe, conducting, composition and music pedagogy at the Vienna Music Academy. From 1985 to 1990 Böck was principal oboist of the ORF Symphony Orchestra. Since 1995 he has been a professor of choral and ensemble conducting at the Mozarteum Music University in Salzburg; since 2007 he has also been the director of the Mozarteum University’s chamber choir, which he founded. Numerous concert tours have taken him through all of Europe, to Russia, Israel and the USA during the past decades. Herbert Böck has enjoyed many years of artistic partnership with Den Norske Oper in Oslo and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 2009 he has been a popular guest conductor at the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra in Tromso, Norway, where he has performed major choral works by Bach, Mozart and Haydn. Since 1989 the 63-year-old has also been chief conductor of the Wiener Jeunesse Orchestra.
Daniel Auner, born in to an Austrian-Russian family of musicians in 1987, is one of the internationally most sought-after Viennese violinists of his generation today. Recent invitations have taken him to the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra, the Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa and the Orquestra Sinfónica Brasileira. A former student of Christian Altenburger, Igor Ozim and Boris Kuschnir, he has studied baroque performance practice of the 17th and 18th century particularly, culminating in a recording of Bach’s complete solo sonatas and partitas released in 2019. Auner has performed as a cultural ambassador of Austria in many non-European countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Iran, Kuwait, Indonesia and Malaysia. The violinist plays a historical instrument built by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini on loan to him from the Austrian National Bank’s collection of valuable string instruments. In 2015 he founded the Auner Quartet; he has also been teaching violin as a professor at the Prayner Conservatory in Vienna since 2018.
Over the course of the past decades, Kurt Schwertsik, 85 years old today, has earned the reputation of a colourful figure in Viennese music life. Internationally, he has long been considered one of Austria’s leading composers, whose works have been performed at many large festivals. In the 1960s he was a student of Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne, but Schwertsik soon gave up serialism again and began to compose tonal music. Often, his works are characterized by an ironic, humoristic note. Also a horn player in the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Schwertsik enjoyed success with numerous solo concerti, but also the fantastical opera Fanferlieschen Schönefüßchen (1983), the five-part orchestral cycle Irdische Klänge (1992) and his Sinfonia–Sinfonietta (1996). He wrote his Divertimento Macchiato (2007) for the trumpet player Håkan Hardenberger; his ballets Macbeth, Frida Kahlo, Nietzsche, Gastmahl der Liebe and Hans Christian Andersen were created in cooperation with the choreographer Johann Kresnik.
Symphony No. 1 in D-major Op. 25 “Symphonie Classique” (1916-1917)
Violin Concerto No. 2 Op. 81 “Albayzin and Sacromonte” (2000)
Symphony No. 7 B-minor D.759 “Unfinished” (1822)
Symphonic Suite from “The Love for Three Oranges” Op. 33 a (1919)
Trying to describe the programme of the Wiener Jeunesse Orchester, one might call it an inventive melange. An Austrian-Russian one, so to speak, spanning more than 200 years of music history. At its centre, in the truest sense, are two quintessential Viennese composers: one the one hand Franz Schubert and his famous “Unfinished”, the B-minor Symphony in two movements; on the other Kurt Schwertsik, now aged 85, a veritable Viennese institution, whose Second Violin concerto will be performed by the young violinist Daniel Auner. The works bookending these pieces could not offer greater contrast: in the beginning there is Prokofiev’s indestructible Symphonie classique, while the finale features the temperamental suite from his opera The Love for Three Oranges. While the Wiener Jeunesse Orchester stood out during previous festival editions with large-scale symphonic works, this time the Austrians show their lighter side – perhaps we might even hope for a Strauß waltz as an encore?
The concert is recorded by Deutschlandfunk Kultur and broadcasted nationwide – via FM, DAB +, Kabel, online and app.