isa – the International Summer Academy of the mdw was established in 1991 as an initiative of the mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts under the leadership of Univ.-Prof. DDr. h. c. Michael Frischenschlager. It was born amidst the euphoria generated by the fall of the Iron Curtain and had as its goal the facilitation of musical encounters and international networking for particularly gifted young students, in particular for those from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries.

Beginning with the 15th edition of isa (2005), Univ.-Prof. Dr h.c. Johannes Meissl worked consistently to develop the International Summer Academy into an event that draws its identity from its mix of courses, topically diverse workshops, the associated festival, academic reflection, innovative interdisciplinary artistic projects, and the building of networks based on new friendships. World-class quality and participants from 45 countries around the globe combined with the overall “isa-experience” have by now made the mdw’s International Summer Academy into an event that is unique the world over.

From the very beginning, it was also possible to secure the participation of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU) and the Franz Liszt Music University in Budapest as the programme’s main cooperating partners. And every year since then, isa has been held in cooperation with further leading music universities from the CEE region – including those of Bratislava, Brno, Zagreb, Sofia, Bucharest, Ljubljana, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Sarajevo, Vilnius and Krakow – as well as with the involvement of world-renowned institutions of musical training in London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and other major cities.

Since 1991  
Master classes for solo strings (without double bass)
Since 1993  
Master classes for string quartet
Since 1994  
Master classes for solo winds and wind chamber music
Since 1995  
Master classes in composition
Since 1998  
Master classes for singers
Since 1999  
Master classes for piano
Since 1999  
Master classes for chamber music with piano
2003 - 2010  
Master classes in conducting
From 2005    
More and more supplementary workshops and lectures
Since 2006  
Master classes for double bass
A new overall theme every year for isa and associated interdisciplinary projects (Max Reinhardt Seminar, Music Education, Stage Design, Filmakademie Wien, etc.)

2010 to 2012
Conduct of the singers’ courses in cooperation with
jOPERA Jennersdorf
Since 2013            
Transformation of the accompanying concert series into the isaFestival, including the specialised series UNERHÖRT – International Award Winners and Open Chamber Music.
Conduct of the singers’ courses as isaOperaVienna in cooperation with the mdw’s Department of Voice and Music Theatre.

isaScience – A forum for the scientific and scholarly community
Jubilee! 25th isa – International Summer Academy


em. o. Univ.-Prof. DDr. h.c. Michael Frischenschlager  
Since 2005
Univ.-Prof. Dr. h.c. Johannes Meissl                                      

Prominent isa instructors have included and continue to include leading educators from the programme’s partner institutions as well as from the mdw, many of whom have worked and continue to work worldwide as performing artists in famous ensembles and orchestras. For example: Alban Berg Quartet, Amadeus Quartet, Bartók Quartet, Janácek Quartet, Czech Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, etc.

In the past, isa participants have successfully taken part in important international competitions such as the ARD Competition (Munich), the Fritz Kreisler Competition (Vienna), the Menuhin Competition (Folkstone), the Osaka Chamber Music Competition, the Paganini Competition (Genoa), the Prague Spring Competition, etc.

Many former students of isa now have careers on the world’s concert stages or work in opera houses and great orchestras including the Budapest State Opera, the Sofia State Opera, the Czech National Theatre, the Vienna State Opera, the Zagreb State Opera, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic, the Vienna Symphony, and the Czech Philharmonic.

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