In May 2003 the violinists and viola player of the Artis Quartet decided to try for the first time to play a concert standing. Being strongly positive about the advantages, the Artis Quartet is now one of the few quartets worldwide to prefer this way of performing.
Founded in 1980, the Artis Quartet studied first at the University of Music in Vienna, then, having won prizes in competitions in Cambridge, England (1983) , Evian, France (1984) and Yellow Springs, USA (1985) and in 1984/85, being holder of the Friedlander Fellowship, studied with the LaSalle Quartet at the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, USA.
In 1985 the ensemble began its international career performing in the most important venues and centres of music, including: London, Paris, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Osaka, Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels, Zurich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Salzburg also they played in Bangkok, New Delhi, Bombay, Istanbul, Montevideo, Santiago de Chile, Honolulu, the Faroe Islands and Buenos Aires, where the enthusiastic audiences in two concerts at the Teatro Colon gave a very warm welcome.
In Vienna, where the members of the Artis-Quartet live, their cycle of concerts at the Wiener Musikverein has been an annual event since 1988.
They have given first performances of many works by contemporary composers, such as Gottfried v. Einem, Helmut Eder, Thomas Pernes, Richard Dünser, Gerhard E. Winkler, Thomas Larcher, Gerhard Schedl, Haimo Wisser, Wolfgang Kubizek, Harry Pepl and Antonio Pino Vargas.
Notable moments in the history of the Quartet include the invitation to play all twenty-three Mozart quartets in a series of concerts in both Tokyo (Suntory Hall) and Vienna during the Mozart Year 1991. Enthusiastic press reviews included: "......this was at last the concert that made you glad 1991 is Mozart year. Other artists try to imitate Mozart; these four are the real thing..." (Jason James/Asahi Evening News/Tokyo ) "....performances proved the Artis to be top class in the international chamber music league.." (Alexander Arbeiter/Kurier /Vienna).
This success was repeated with cycles of the complete Schubert quartets in 1997 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, De Doelen in Rotterdam and the Musikverein in Vienna.
The Artis Quartet has been welcomed at prestigious international festivals such as: Salzburger Festspiele, Wiener Festwochen, Schleswig Holstein, Ravinia, Ludwigsburg, Lockenhaus, Turku, Naantali, Gstaad, Prades, Granada, Bournemouth, Rouen, Hong Kong, Paris, Colmar, Schubertiade Feldkirch, Wien Modern, Salzburger Mozartwoche , Carinthischer Sommer, Brucknerfest Linz, Klangbogen Wien, Klangspuren Schwaz etc..
They have recorded more than 20 CDs for Nimbus Records, Sony Classical, CBS/Sony, Orfeo, Accord and Koch/Schwann. Besides the "classical" quartet repertoire of Mozart, Beethoven Schubert, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Smetana and Schumann they also include works by Wolf, Webern, Gielen, Schönberg, Weigl and Berg, and have won such international awards as the Grand prix international du disque/Academie Charles Cros the Prix Caecilia, the Diapason d´Or and the Wiener Flötenuhr.
In 1997 the Artis-Quartet was awarded the" Alexander Zemlinsky Award", beginning a close co-operation with Nimbus Records (GB). Their first project, the complete Zemlinsky String Quartets, immediately gained outstandingly high recognition from the international critics including the Diapason d´Or (12/99), a Nomination for the Gramophone Award 99, Pick of the month (BBC Music Magazine), Choice Classic CD), Empfehlung (Klassik Heute), Empfehlung Repertoire (Fono Forum), and Editors Choice (Gramophone).
In October 2000 the Artis recording of the Zemlinsky quartets 3 & 4 won the German "Echo Klassik 2000" award for the best chamber music recording of the year in the 20th century category.
Amongst the newest recordings
(2006) are a CD with Quartets (all dedicated to the AQ) by Dünser, Eröd, Wisser and Zipper, a disc with Mozart's ?Don Giovanni"
, in an arrangement from 1804 (on the ORFEO label) as well as a CD with string quartets by Ignaz Pleyel.
The members of the Artis Quartet teach at the Universities of Vienna and Graz and give masterclasses around the world.
Peter Schumayer's violin was made in 2001 by Johann Rombach while the other members of the Artis-Quartett play instruments from the Collection of the Austrian National Bank - Johannes Meissl a violin by A. Guarneri (1690), Herbert Kefer a viola by J.B.Guadagnini (1784) and Othmar Mueller a 'cello by A.Amati (1573).
Highlights of the 06/07 season are the complete Mozart Quartets in Vienna, appearances at the Festivals Schleswig Holstein, Ludwigsburg, Dubrovnik and Prades, at the Tokyo International Forum (5000 Seats!) and at the Library of Congress in Washington.