• Founded 1985
Often appears with
Austrian composer Beat Furrer founded Klangforum Wien, a chamber orchestra devoted to contemporary music, in Vienna in 1985. The group is made up of 24 players and considers itself a collective, with its members responsible for artistic decisions. It does, however, engage guest conductors for works large enough to require one. Based in Vienna, the group maintains a very full schedule of performances throughout Europe and occasionally tours internationally. As of 2012, Klangforum Wien had presented the premieres of over 500 new works and had made over 70 recordings. Furrer led the first concert of the group, originally known as Societé de l'Art Acoustique, at the Palais Liechtenstein. The ensemble adopted the name Klangforum Wien in 1989.
In its earliest years the group played composers from a broad spectrum of nationalities, including Feldman, Crumb, Tower, Birtwistle, Xenakis, Murail, Varèse, and Boulez. It has since become more narrowly focused on works by German, Austrian, Central European, and, to some extent, Italian modernists, largely to the exclusion of other nationalities. The list of composers whose work it has performed reads like a Who's Who of late 20th and early 21st century middle European modernism and includes Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel, György Kurtág, Isabel Mundry, Helmut Lachenmann, Heinz Holliger, and Giacinto Scelsi, among many others.
Klangforum Wien has made a specialty of contemporary opera and has performed Peter Eötvös' Drei Schwestern, Olga Neuwirth's Lost Highway, Beat Furrer's FAMA, Wolfgang Rihm's Jakob Lenz, Bernhard Lang's I Hate Mozart, Kaija Saariaho's La passion de Simone, and Philippe Boesmans' Yvonne, as well as operas by Georges Aperghis, Johannes Kalitzke, Georg Friedrich Haas, and Salvatore Sciarrino. In the field of opera, the ensemble expanded its horizons to include works of other eras, with performances of Weill, Britten, and Offenbach. It performed Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea in a new orchestral realization by Philippe Boesmans at Teatro Real, Madrid, in 2012.
The members unanimously gave the composers Friedrich Cerha, Beat Furrer, and Sylvain Cambreling honorary membership in the ensemble. Cambreling has been principal guest conductor of the group since 1997.