An old man has died. His prayers, the intercessions of his friends and the blessings of the priest have trailed off. A guardian angel guides his soul past ravenous demons and, after pleading and purgation, leads it to salvation: strong stuff for a compelling piece of music! Edward Elgar’s «The Dream of Gerontius» ranks among the most-performed oratorios in the United Kingdom after Handel’s «Messiah» and Mendelssohn’s «Elias». Based on a poem of nearly 900 lines by the Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, the work lasting a little over 90 minutes was first performed in 1900 in Birmingham under the direction of Hans Richter. Elgar, the English national composer, considered the oratorio boasting an extensive orchestration his magnum opus. Renowned vocal soloists will perform the piece together with the Tonkunstler and the Wiener Singverein. Michael Schönwandt, a much-liked Guest Conductor of the orchestra for many years, will take the stand.