A string quartet with a double bass instead of a cello? That is a combination which is both interesting from a musical point of view and "original" as, for instance, in Mozart's divertimenti or Haydn's early string quartets. This constellation also allows the Ensemble to fulfill its philosophy of incorporating lesser-known works by Franz Schubert, Joseph Lanner and the Strauss Dynasty into its otherwise classical programming. Accordingly, its repertoire extends beyond original compositions, including works arranged exclusively for the Ensemble Wien. The ensemble's outstanding interpretation of the seemingly simple entertaining waltzes, polkas, German dances, country dances and minuets, clearly ranks these compositions among classical masterpieces.
By following these programming guidelines, the Ensemble Wien (all members with the exception of the bass player are also members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) has been very successful, holding a very popular subscription concert series for the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde at the Musikverein in Vienna since 1988/89.
The quartet regularly takes part in important festivals (e.g., the Salzburg Festival, the viennese "Festwochen" and "Frühlingsfestival", the "Schubertiade" in Feldkirch, Berlin's "Festwochen", the Ravenna Festival) and gives concerts in other major music centers throughout Europe (Amsterdam, Athens, Cologne, Munich, Paris), Japan and America (New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Orange County, Quebec, Toronto and Vancouver).
Appearances with artists of such calibre as T. Barto, J. Carreras, P. Domingo, B. Frittoli, A. Kirchschlager, G. Maisenberg, J. Vakarelis and S. Vladar round off the activities of the Ensemble.
A television appearance in the interval film of the 1999 New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra broadcast worldwide as well as radio appearances on Austrian State Radio (ORF), including three concerts transmitted throughout Europe by the European Broadcasting Union, have helped consolidate the reputation of the Ensemble at home, throughout Europe and overseas. Last but not least, numerous CD-recordings testify to the multifaceted music of this unusual chamber music formation.