Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde

The Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien (English: Society of Friends of Music in Vienna), also known as the Musikverein (English: Music Association), was founded in 1812 by Joseph Sonnleithner, general secretary of the Court Theatre in Vienna, Austria.


Its official charter, drafted in 1814, states that the purpose of the Society was to promote music in all its facets. In early 1818, Franz Schubert was rejected for membership in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde as a professional musician, something that might have furthered his musical career.

The Society accomplished its goals by sponsoring concerts, founding the Vienna Conservatory in 1819, founding the Wiener Singverein in 1858, constructing the Musikverein building in 1870, and by systematically collecting and archiving noteworthy music-history documents. It is now one of the world's leading music archives.

The first music director was Carl Heissler, who was followed by Anton Rubinstein (appointed in 1871) and Johannes Brahms (appointed in 1872). Other notable music directors include Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan and Gustav Mahler. Membership in the Gesellschaft has included a who's who of notable 19th- and 20th-century musical figures, including composers, conductors, and instrumentalists.

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