The Wiener Symphoniker was founded in 1900 and consolidated in 1921 from the ranks of another Viennese orchestra. The group's first permanent conductor was Ferdinand Löwe, a noted pupil of Anton Bruckner who conducted the premiere of Bruckner's Symphony No. 9. He led the orchestra for its first 24 years.
The Wiener Symphoniker was taken over by the city of Vienna in 1938 as a municipal orchestra. After World War II, with the resumption of artistic life in Vienna, the orchestra came under the direction of Herbert von Karajan, who was kept from working with the more prestigious Philharmonic by his rival Wilhelm Furtwängler.