Herbert von Karajan, who was born on 5 April 1908 in Salzburg and died on 16 July 1989 near Salzburg was one of the most important conductors of all time. One of his main concerns was that the artistic pursuits that had interested him throughout his life should survive him and be kept safe for future generations. During his lifetime he had already set aside significant financial sums in order to leave behind a comprehensive "musical bequest" for posterity. In 1969 he set up the Karajan Foundation for the advancement of young artists. In 1986 he founded the "Telemondial Foundation" to safeguard and administer his artistic estate. As a result of an initiative launched by this foundation, and at the suggestion of Karajan's wife Eliette von Karajan, the Herbert von Karajan Centre became a reality and was opened to the public in Vienna on 11 November 1995.
The centre gives the general public access to Karajan's considerable life's work, thereby promoting interaction and dialogue among young people, art lovers and artists, and, reaching out beyond the music itself, it brings people together. The centre ensures that the master's artistic legacy and his spirit live on in the people. It is housed in an historic building on Vienna's Ringstrasse, not far from the Opera House, and has been equipped with the most modern technology to ensure the success of the numerous events, international symposia, special film screenings and exhibitions which it hosts. Countless hours of video and sound materials are safely stored in the centre's comprehensive archive.