The Vienna Symphonic Library's Musical Soul


More than 200 excellent musicians have devoted up to one year of their lives, sometimes even more, to the recordings for the Vienna Symphonic Library. While recording, they reach their physical and psychological limits, sometimes even transgressing them. But the strain has its rewards. Tenor trombone player Johann Schodl says that after half a year of playing for the Vienna Symphonic Library he got stronger cheek muscles. Since then, he has been able to play extremely long tones at his highest pitch without any deviation.

In order to guarantee sound consistency within an instrument - for superior sample combination possibilities and authenticity - all samples have to be played by the same musician on the same instrument. Therefore, the players of the main instruments have to be available for recording over a period of six to twelve months, the length of time required to produce up to 40,000 perfect samples of any given instrument or ensemble.

Through extensive research and discussions with the musicians and musical directors, the characteristics of each respective instrument are thoroughly evaluated and mapped out. All shapeable parameters are notated and analyzed, hierarchically categorized and cast into scores. Extra time is scheduled for practice sessions, as even the best instrumentalist is challenged by consistently playing perfect single tones and phrases over the whole tone range. The musicians came to call these sessions "paid practice" and over a period of weeks and months, even Vienna's top musicians began to improve their technique and their performance horizon, so that by the end of production, their best possible performances were captured for the libraries.