Ars Antiqua Austria was founded in Linz in 1989 with the aim of introducing audiences to the roots of specifically Austrian baroque music played on period-instruments. The music performed at the imperial court in Vienna at this period shows the strong influence of Italy and later of French forms, while Spanish court ceremonials also shape the character of the works. The typical Austrian sound of the period also betrays the influence of the many Crownlands. The political and social boundaries of Austria in the baroque era were far wider than in the 20th century. Elements of Slav and Hungarian folk music mingle with alpine sounds and can be heard in the art music of the period. The Austrian sound also reflects the temperament and character of the Austrians of that period - a unifying element in the melting-pot of many different cultures: the joie de vivre of the South, Slav melancholy, French formality, Spanish pomp and the Alpine character of the German-speaking regions. This fusion of court- with folk music and a strong element of dance music form the typical Austrian sound.
The core of Ars Antiqua Austria comprises 8 musicians directed by Gunar Letzbor. The ensemble is readily augmented to accommodate a still wider repertoire..
During its early years ARS ANTIQUA AUSTRIA gave numerous concerts while researching the achievements of Austria`s baroque composers in depth. Thanks to Gunar Letzbor's unflagging commitment, many works received their first performance in modern times. Enthusiastic reviews welcomed CDs of music by Weichlein, Biber, Conti (together with the mezzosoprano Bernarda Fink), Viviani, Mealli, Arnold, Caldara, Aufschnaiter, Vilsmayr, Vejvanovsky, Schmelzer, Muffat, Hochreither, Mouthon, Radolt, Aumann and of course J.S.Bach.