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Vienna Art Orchestra

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Vienna Art Orchestra
Vienna Art Orchestra, Hamburg, 1985
Vienna Art Orchestra, Hamburg, 1985
Background information
OriginVienna, Austria
Years active1977–2010
LabelsExtraplatte, hat ART, Amiga, Moers Music, Amadeo, Quinton, Verve, Art
Past members

The Vienna Art Orchestra was a European jazz group based in Vienna, Austria. Organized at different times as either a big band or as a smaller combo, it was regarded as one of the leading European jazz ensembles and was an official cultural ambassador of the Republic of Austria.


Founded in 1977 by director and composer Mathias Rüegg, the band started out by performing Rüegg's postmodern compositions on stages throughout Europe. Among the founding musicians were singer Lauren Newton, saxophonists Wolfgang Puschnig and Harry Sokal, trombone player Christian Radovan, tuba player Jon Sass, and mallet percussionist Woody Schabata. In 1980, the ensemble signed a recording contract with the Swiss hatART label, and in 1984 they toured the United States for the first time.

The group essentially disbanded for a brief period at the end of the 1980s. In 1992, the VAO opened a new phase with a smaller complement of musicians. The band played fewer of Rüegg's compositions and concentrated on arrangements of works by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and other noted American jazz composers, as well as music inspired by the classical music of Verdi, Wagner, Schubert, and Erik Satie.

In 1997, the ensemble's personnel changed once again, increasing in size and adding younger musicians. New compositions by Rüegg became a regular feature of VAO concerts, which often included visual and dramatic elements.

The Vienna Art Orchestra has performed more than 800 concerts and released more than 35 recordings. The film An Echo from Europe: Vienna Art Orchestra on Tour by Othmar Schmiderer was released in 1998.

The ensemble was nominated for an Amadeus Austrian Music Award in 2001 for the album All That Strauss, and again in 2003 for Art and Fun.

On July 10, 2010, Mathias Rüegg announced that the Vienna Art Orchestra had been disbanded for financial reasons.[1]


Vienna Art Orchestra[edit]

Album Label Year
Jessas Na! Extraplatte EXS 15 (Single) 1977
Tango from Obango Extraplatte EX 10 (LP) 1979
Concerto Piccolo hat ART 6038 (CD) 1981
Suite for the Green Eighties hat ART 6054 (CD) 1982
From No Time to Rag Time hat ART 6073 (CD) 1983
The Minimalism of Erik Satie hat ART 6024 (CD) 1984
A Notion in Perpetual Motion hat ART 6096 (CD) 1985
Jazzbühne Berlin 85 Amiga Jazz 856 16816 10M (LP) 1986
Nightride of a Lonely Saxophoneplayer Moers Music 02054/5 (2 CD) 1986
Inside Out Moers Music 02062/3 (2 CD) 1987
Two Little Animals Moers Music 02066 (CD) 1988
Blues for Brahms amadeo 839 105-2 (2 CD) 1989
Innocence of Clichés amadeo 841 646-2 (2 CD) 1990
Chapter II amadeo 849 066-2 (CD) 1991
The Highlights 77-89 Live in Vienna amadeo 513 325-2 (2 CD) 1992
standing... WHAT? amadeo 519 816-2 (CD) 1993
The Original Charts of Duke Ellington & Charles Mingus Verve 521 998-2 (CD) 1994
European Songbook Verve 527 672-2 (CD) 1995
Vienna Art Orchestra 20th Anniversary: Verve 537 095-2 (3 CD) 1997
1) Powerful Ways: Nine Immortal NonEvergreens for Eric Dolphy Verve 537 096-2
2) Quiet Ways: Ballads Verve 537 097-2
3) Unexpected Ways: M Concerto for Voice & Silence Verve 537 098-2
Tango from Obango (special ed. with bonus CD): Extraplatte EX 10-2 (3 CD) 1997
1) Tango from Obango Extraplatte EX 010 097-2 A
2) Two Songs for Another Lovely War / Jessas Na! Extraplatte EX 010 097-2 B
American Rhapsody RCA Victor 0902663-227-2 1998
Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love TCB 99802 1999
All That Strauss TCB 20052 2000
Artistry in Rhythm TCB 01102 2000
A Centenary Journey Quinton Q0104 2001
ART & FUN Universal Music Emarcy 017 072-2 2002
Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love Vol. 2 Universal Music Emarcy 0602498654194 2003
Big Band Poesie Universal Music Emarcy 986771-0 2004
Swing & Affairs Universal Music Emarcy 9874469 2005
3 Universal Music 06025 172 287-9 5 2007
All That Strauss Vol. 2 Art Records 1002 2007
Third Dream Extraplatte Extraplatte EX 998-2 2009
Third Dream - Limited Edition VAO-Shop Extraplatte EX 999-2 2009

Vienna Art Special[edit]

Album Label Year
Serapionmusic Moers Music 02050 (LP) 1986
Two Songs for Another Lovely War Extraplatte, EX ED 001 (LP) 1988
Swiss Art Orchestra MGB 9201 (CD) 1992
Fe & Males amadeo 513 328-2 (CD) 1992
Plays for Jean Cocteau Verve 529 290-2 (CD) 1996

Vienna Art Choir[edit]

Album Label Year
From No Art to Mo-(z)-Art Moers Music 02002 (CD) 1983
Five Old Songs Moers Music 02036 (CD) 1985
Swiss Swing Moers Music 02060 (CD) 1987

Vienna Art Orchestra with Ernst Jandl[edit]

Album Label Year
bist eulen? Extraplatte EX 316 141 (CD) 1984
vom vom zum zum Extraplatte EX 316 145 (CD) 1988
lieber ein saxophon Extraplatte EX 316 153 (CD) 1991

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rüegg, Mathias. "Game Over". Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2012.

External links[edit]