History of the GMJO

The GMJO was founded in Vienna in 1986.

The orchestra was founded by Claudio Abbado.

The orchestra was founded with the aim to overcome political borders and to enable young talent from Austria, the former Czechoslovakia and Hungary to play music together, driven by the conviction that common cultural traditions must not remain separated by political borders.

Thus the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER succeeded as the first international youth orchestra in holding free auditions in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Since 1986 auditions were held in the former Czechoslovakia, since 1988 in the former GDR and since 1990 even in the former Soviet Union.
Since 1992 the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER has been open to musicians up to the age of 26 from all over Europe.

The orchestra was established with the aim to give talented young musicians, initially from Austria, the former Czechoslovakia and Hungary, the opportunity to play music together. Since Vienna, Prague and Budapest as well as Ljubljana and Jihlava marked important points in Mahler’s life, his name is a symbol for the bond between these countries as well as for the overcoming of borders between Eastern and Western Europe.
Aside from Gustav Mahler’s symbolic significance for the orchestra, his works are often included in the concert programmes.

The repertoire of the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER spans from the classical period to contemporary music, the emphasis being placed on the great symphonic works of the romantic and late romantic period. Nonetheless the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER has already performed numerous works by living composers and has accomplished a few premieres. Works by Gustav Mahler are often included in the tour program.

Organisation and Formation

The number of members varies depending on the concert programme. However, the strings alone count up to 86 musicians, so that the GMJO traditionally performs with a large instrumentation. In principle, between 110 and 140 musicians come together for any given project.

The condition for participation is a successful audition. The audtions are held annually in the autumn in approximately 25 European cities. Please find further information here.

The orchestra is open to musicians who are citizens of a European country, who have reached an advanced stage in their musical education and who are between the ages of 16 and 26.

Please find more information regarding the auditions here.

The number of women in the orchestra varies from tour to tour. The decisive factor for participating in the orchestra is musical skill, not gender. However, the experience of the past years shows that about half of the GMJO is made up of female members and half of it of male members.

The orchestra is open to musicians between the ages of 16 and 26.

The orchestra is open to musicians of any European nationality; there is no limitation to citizens of EU member states. Also, there are no country quotas: only musical criteria are taken into account for the participation in the orchestra.

Can musicians who are not citizens of a European country but who study in Europe play in the orchestra?

No, only musicians with a European citizenship are admitted to the orchestra. The main reason for this is the time-consuming audition procedure in which all candidates have the opportunity to participate in a live audition. A world-wide expansion of the auditions with fair conditions for all participants would not be possible, as the European auditions alone last several months – far longer than the tour projects. In addition, it would be unfair to admit non-Europeans who study in Europe while denying the opportunity to their colleagues who study outside of Europe.

The administrative staff of the orchestra is made up of five full-time employees. Approximately five further staff members join us for the tours projects.

Please find our contact information here.

The GMJO’s office is located in Vienna.

Please find our contact information here.

The GMJO receives public funding from the Republic of Austria, the City of Vienna and Bolzano, its residence city. It also receives financial support from sponsors, foundations and partners. In addition, the Förderstiftung (Beneficiary Foundation) of the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER, founded in Munich in 1995, aims to acquire further funding for the tour projects. Furthermore, an important part of the funding are the concert fees which the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER receives for its performances.

Please find further information on our partners here.

Information on how to support the GMJO can be found here.

Tours and Concerts

The next tour dates can be found here. If you want to receive information about our tour dates, concerts and news on the orchestra regularly, you can sign up for our free newsletter.

The GMJO has been the guest of renowned concert promoters and festivals around the world for years. Aside from numerous, annual concert performances all over Europe, invitations have brought the orchestra to the United States, to Japan and to South America.

Detailed information regarding the GMJO’s tours can be found here.

Aside from occasional chamber music projects in collaboration with the residence cities of the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER, a dedicated chamber music series was instituted together with the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna in 2008. Current and former members of the orchestra participate in this project.

Depending on the programme, the musicians are invited to at least one tour, but mostly to both tours of the following year after their successful audition.

Since the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER holds auditions in more than 25 European countries in order to provide as far-reaching equivalent opportunities as possible, travel expenses that may arise because of the auditions are not refunded.

The GMJO pays for all travel expenses of its members, as well as their accommodation and meals, during the rehearsal periods and the tours.

The GMJO organises all travels in connection with the rehearsal periods and tours.

The GMJO pays for all travel, accommodation and meal expenses in connection with the rehearsal periods and tours. Individual insurance policies (such as health, personal liability and casualty insurance) have to be taken out and paid for by the musicians.

The musicians’ participation in the tour projects of the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER is free of charge. The GMJO pays for all travel, accommodation and meals during the rehearsal periods and tours. Since the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER is an educational institution, no salaries or allowances are paid.

The orchestra’s common language is English (apart from music as a universal language). Language barriers have never posed any serious problems if they occurred.

Prior to its respective tours, the orchestra has a rehearsal period of about two weeks in one of its residence cities (at the moment, these are Vienna, Bolzano, Interlaken, and Lisbon starting in 2010).

In general, the rehearsals take place during a rehearsal period of approximately two weeks
prior to the tours at Easter and in the summer.

First the individual sections rehearse under the auspices of tutors (these are professional orchestra musicians – for example in the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, La Scala in Milano and the Zurich Opera). The sectionals are followed by orchestral rehearsals with the assistant conductor. Finally, the conductor of the respective tour takes over. Rehearsal periods are held twice annually: prior to the respective tours at Easter and in the summer.

The rehearsal periods prior to the tours are held in one of the residences of the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER: at the moment, these are Vienna, Bolzano and Interlaken; starting in 2010, the GMJO will be in residence in Lisbon.

In general, there are two tour projects a year: one at Easter and one during the summer. The orchestra’s upcoming tour dates can be found here.

The tour projects including the rehearsal periods amount to approximately one month each. During the academic year, the musicians can only take off for such a long time during the vacations. Thus the tours usually take place during the Easter or summer vacations.

The main objective of the GMJO is to combine the best musicians from all over Europe in one orchestra. In order to meet this objective, auditions are held annually in approximately 25 European cities from October to December. These are followed by the evaluation of the auditions and the assembly of the orchestra by the tutors. Thus a tour project in the autumn or winter months is not possible.

Yes, as a matter of principle, the musicians must bring their own instruments to the tour projects, and they bear the responsibility for them. Exceptions are percussionists, players of keyboard instruments, double bass players and contrabassoon players. These musicians must contact the organisers prior to the tours in order to clarify this issue.

The musicians must take out the insurance for their instruments themselves.

No, the musicians must take out their own insurance.

As a matter of principle, the musicians are accommodated in double rooms (with twin beds).

All participating artists kindly help the GMJO to enable the costly projects.

Please find all information regarding our CDs and DVDs here.