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As a pioneering original instrument ensemble, the Concentus Musicus Wien paved the way for the success of the historically informed performance movement. The ensemble was founded in 1953 by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who remains Artistic Director: “The music of every period can best be brought to life using the resources of the time” is Harnoncourt’s credo. The ensemble’s musicians spent more than four years rehearsing so as to fine-tune their sound and arrive at an authentic interpretation of works from the baroque and pre-baroque eras before giving their debut concert in 1957 at the Palais Schwarzenberg in Vienna. That event soon launched an annual series of concerts in Vienna, tours (starting in 1960), and a multitude of recordings beginning with the Brandenburg Concertos of Johann Sebastian Bach. Among the many extraordinary projects undertaken by the Concentus Musicus Wien are a complete recording of all the Bach cantatas, which was made between 1970 and 1989 and won a Gramophone Award. The ensemble has also made recordings of such operas as Mozart’s Lucio Silla and Il re pastore, Haydn’s Armida, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and The Fairy Queen, and Monteverdi’s L‘Orfeo, as well as of numerous oratorios by George Frideric Handel. The ensemble regularly performs in opera productions at the Theater an der Wien, the Styriarte Festival in Graz, and the Salzburg Festival and undertakes concert tours throughout Europe. Today the Concentus’ repertoire ranges from the Renaissance to Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, encompassing sacred and secular works alike.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 27 March 1996 in a program including Haydn’s Symphonies No. 52 and 85, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.