It was with complete shock and disbelief that I learned of the threatened closure of the RSO Vienna, Austria’s only radio orchestra, who over the past 54 years have brought exceptional classical music to homes across the country and to distant lands.
The RSO has an unparalleled reputation for its focus on contemporary classical music, an integral component in the rich musical diversity of Austria, which celebrates the excitement of the new alongside the richness of traditional repertoire. ‘Musik unserer Zeit für Menschen unserer Zeit’ (‘Music of our time for people of our time‘) is at the core of everything we do and cultivating new Austrian music is written into our mission.
Through our critically acclaimed recordings played across the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and our internationally renowned performances, the RSO is a exceptional ambassador for Austria’s cultural heritage. I was proud to bring the Orchestra for their debut at the BBC Proms last year which was televised internationally and undoubtedly confirmed their reputation as a leading Austrian orchestra.
There is no doubt in my mind that to close down the RSO Vienna would be a decision that damages Vienna’s reputation as a musical capital in the world and potentially weaken Austria’s international cultural soft power.
As Chief Conductor my first thoughts are always with the musicians of the orchestra. The 88 permanent members and 10 academy members rank among the finest in the world, and to risk their livelihoods during a time of economic hardship is barbaric.
I strongly urge ORF to consider this decision-making process incredibly carefully and act to safeguard its cultural integrity by continuing to fund the RSO.