Home >> Our History


The Prayner Conservatory of Mag. Josef Schmid for Music and Dramatic Arts, one of the most historically significant conservatories in Vienna, was founded as a music school in 1905 by the music teacher Eugenie Patonay. In 1911 the institute was relocated to today’s premises within Mühlgasse 28-30 in the 4th district. This location, which had formerly housed the Ehrbar piano company, was the property of Kurt Steinitz. A lively starting period followed with a large intake of students, who soon became outstanding graduates of the Lutwak-Patonay Conservatory. 


Kurt Steinitz was the proprietor of Mühlgasse 28-30 until 1938. When Austria was annexed by the German Reich that same year, Kurt Steinitz fled to South America and the premises were then Aryanised by Stefan Lehner, a trusted lawyer to the Gestapo. As of 1939 the Conservatory lodged within the premises was also Aryanised by Professors Karl and Margarethe Prayner, a wedded couple on the governing council.


The teaching rooms of the Conservatory, including the famous former concert hall of the Ehrbar piano firm which had played a vital role in the Viennese concert culture at the turn of the century, functioned as storerooms during the First and Second World Wars and subsequently served as a factory location and warehouse.  After World War II, the premises of the Conservatory were restored to their original form. The nondescript whitewashing was removed and the historically valuable gilts were revealed once more. In November 1946 the Ehrbarsaal was reopened with a celebratory concert by the Vienna Philharmonic under the conductorship of Rudolf Moralt.  From that point on, the Ehrbarsaal and its adjoining premises could once again be used for their original tuition and performance purposes.


The Aryanisation was acknowledged by the courts after 1945, and the restoration and financial compensation were carried out by the Viennese Commission for Restitution. On 31st March 1958 the Conservatory was granted a licence by the Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (and was thereby granted public status and the right to publicise, although a privately-lead institution).


In the year 2011 the premises of the Conservatory were expanded to include a second location at Mariahilfer Straße 51 in Vienna’s 6th district. In this newly-renovated location, besides the teaching and practice rooms, we have a new theatre, rehearsal stages and a dance studio available to our students for their music studies. As an internationally-renowned educational centre with long-standing tradition, the Conservatory today offers over 900 students from over 60 different countries a well-grounded and practical Artistic Diploma course of study in a wide range of disciplines within the fields of Classical and Jazz music.

Ehrbar the Piano Manufacturer and the Ehrbarsaal

Friedrich Ehrbar was born on 26th April 1827 in Hildesheim, Germany and died on 23rd February 1905 in Hart bei Gloggnitz, Lower Austria. On his way towards becoming one of the most significant piano manufacturers, he went to Vienna in 1848 and worked in the workshop of the piano maker Eduard Seuffert. After the latter’s death in 1855, Friedrich married Seuffert’s widow and took over the business. He then led this important family tradition of piano and organ making under his own name and handed the directorship over to his son, Friedrich Ehrbar Junior, in 1898. Under both his and Seuffert’s leadership, the piano firm became one of the best-known in the world, in which a certain Heinrich Steinweg (Henry Steinway) also worked as a trainee and later became world famous.


Eduard Seuffert’s son, Martin, created the upright-standing hammer piano, which acquired the fetching title “giraffe grand” due to its curious outer appearance, amongst other inventions. Friedrich Ehrbar meanwhile was the first Austrian piano maker to use the cast-iron frame.


The Ehrbarsaal was constructed in 1876 by the piano manufacturer Friedrich Erhbar within our main location (Mühlgasse 30, 1040 Vienna) in order to replace an auditorium for music which had become too old and small for its purpose. The architect Julius Schrittwieser was guided by the architectural style of the Italian High Renaissance. This performance venue in the heart of Wieden quickly became a musical hub of the city of Vienna with its ideal acoustic. Alongside the Great Hall of the Musikverein, this hall was the only other in Vienna which was exclusively dedicated to concert performance, since the Brahms Hall of the Musikverein was originally intended for tuition purposes. The building acquired its present-day form when the gallery was added in 1911. 


Many of the best-known musicians of the age performed repeatedly in the Ehrbarsaal, such as Belá Bartók, Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner, Ignaz Brüll, Josef Helmesberger, Gustav Mahler, Pietro Mascagni, Max Reger, Anton Rubinstein, Leo Slezak and Bruno Walter. Concert series by well-known musicians also took place here, such as "Musik der Gegenwart" founded by Paul Amadeus Pisk, Friedrich Wildgans, Marcel Rubin and Ernst Bachrich. The first section of Arnold Schönbergs “Gurreliedern” was premiered here on 14th January 1910, along with other works by the composer.


To this day well-known international artists continue to perform in the Ehrbarsaal – such as:


Vocal: Luara Aikin, Sir Thomas Allen, Florian Boesch, Andrea Lauren Brown, Alfred Burgstaller, Bernarda Fink, Franz Grundheber, Dietrich Henschel, Robert Holl, Wolfgang Holzmair, Soile Isokoski, Daniel Johannsen, Angelika Kirchschlager, Emma Kirkby, Elisabeth Kulmann, Marjana Lipovsek, Dame Felicity Lott, Matthias Rexroth, Markus Schäfer, Anja Silja, Iris Vermillion, Ruth Ziesak

Piano: Eugene Asti, Leonore Aumaier, Greta Benini, Christian de Bruyn, Sam Haywood, Cornelia Herrmann, Matthilde Hoursiangou, Nadja Höbarth, Gerold Huber, Paul Gulda, Frantisek Janoska, Graham Johnson, Christiane Karajeva, Till Alexander Körber, Florian Krumpöck, David Lutz, Ingrid Marsoner, Stephan Möller, Florian Müller, Eytan Pessen, Roberta Pili, Fritz Schwinghammer, Charles Spencer, Anthony Spiri, Donald Sulzen, Matthias Veit, Natasa Veljkovic, Marita Viitasalo, Agnes Wolf, Shai Wosner, Midori Ortner

Strings: Christian Altenburger, Annette Bik, Albena Danailova, Claire Dolby, Susanne Ehn, Johannes Flieder, Bettina Gradinger, Holger Groh, Ute Groh, Erich Höbarth, Rainer Honeck, Herbert Kefer, Ernst Kovacic, Roby Lakatos, Andreas Lindenbaum, Herbert Mayr, Othmar Müller, Sabine Nova, Thomas Riebl, Sophie Schafleitner, Benjamin Schmid, Fuminori Maro Shinozaki, Gerhard Zank, Florian Zwiauer

Brass:Reinhold Brunner, Wolfgang Koblitz, Donna Molinari, Marina Piccinini, Josef Reif, Matthias Schorn


Guitar: Alegre Correa, Dietmar Kres, Diknu Schneeberger


Wienerlied, Jazz & World music: Alegre Correa, Peter Havlicek, Karl Hodina, Roland Neuwirth, Agnes Palmisano, Gerald Preinfalk, Roland Sulzer, Wiener Tschuschenkapelle


Actors and others: Ulrike Beimpold, Anne Bennent, Helmut Berger, Maria Happel, Nicole Heesters, Elfriede Irrall, Andrea Jonasson, Sona MacDonald, Karl Markovics, Karl Menrad, Elisabeth Orth, Udo Samel, Martin Schwab, Peter Simonischek, Julia Stemberger, Angela Winkler


Ensembles: Hugo Wolf Quartet, Ensemble Klezmer Wien, Faltenradio, Mnozil Brass, Prazak Quartet, Romantic Chamber Group of London, Vienna Clarinet Connection, as well as members and ensembles of the great Viennese orchestras, perform in our “Ehrbarsaal”.


Our events calendar is looking as full as ever in the upcoming year. Here you can have a look at the concerts organised by the Stadtinitiative Wien:


© Prayner Konservatorium des Herrn Mag. Josef Schmid mit Öffentlichkeitsrecht 2018Contact UsDisclaimer