At the start of 1818, before and during the first Lower Rhine Music Festival, a society of music lovers emerged. Their first appearance on May 10, 1818 with the performance of Haydn's Four Seasons under the baton of City Music Director, Friedrich August Burgmüller, marks the birth of the Städtischer Musikverein zu Düsseldorf (City Music Society of Düsseldorf). Soon the Musikverein proved to be a driving force of public musical life in Düsseldorf, not only by its own concerts, but also by organising orchestral concerts. During this early time, the appointments of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Robert Schumann as City Music Directors were progressive, thoroughly ambitious decisions, even if the terms of office for neither composer turned out to be entirely successful.
Under the Music Director, Julius Tausch (1855-1890), the musical life of the Düsseldorf bourgeoisy blossomed. His successors, Julius Buths, Karl Panzner, Georg Lennart Schneevoigt and Hans Weisbach, earned the Musikverein by 1933 an international reputation. In 1902, for the first time outside England, Edward Elgar's oratorio, The Dream of Gerontius, was performed in the presence of Richard Strauss as well as the composer. Already in 1912 the Chorus performed Gustav Mahler's Eight Symphony and, on November 19, 1925, the Gurre-Lieder by Arnold Schoenberg.
During the Nazi-period the Musikverein was led by Hugo Balzer. The plans to establish Düsseldorf as "Reichsmusikhauptstadt" (Music Capital of the Reich) were shelved with the outbreak of the war. After World War II, the chorus work had to be re-built with considerable effort. Nevertheless, the chorus made its first guest appearance in Neuss in 1947.
However, the major boom of the chorus started in the 1950’s. Under the General Music Directors, Heinrich Hollreiser, Eugen Szenkar, Jean Martinon, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Henryk Czyz, Willem van Otterloo, Bernhard Klee, David Shallon and - since 1993 - Salvador MasConde, the Musikverein also had increasing international recognition. Thus, already in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Chorus appeared several times in Paris, Madrid, Granada, Besançon and at the Flanders Festival.
Chorus Director, Professor Hartmut Schmidt, began his impressive influence on the Chorus in 1964, and under his leadership the guest appearances were extended to renowned locations like Salzburg, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Orange, Aix-en-Provence, Vienna, Jerusalem and Helsinki. Under Hartmut Schmidt the Musikverein started an intense activity of recording. Conductors such as Wolfgang Sawallisch and Riccardo Chailly repeatedly invited the Chorus for these the productions. The Discography includes L.v. Beethoven's 9th Sumphony as well as the great choral works by Felix Mendelssohn and Schumann, Berlioz' Damnation of Faust, Gustav Mahler's Klagendes Lied - nominated for a Grammy - or the most recent production: the entire choral works of Alexander Zemlinsky together with the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln under the baton of James Conlon.
From 1995 to 2000, the Städtischer Musikverein was led by Chorus Director, Professor Raimund Wippermann. Under his direction the choral works of Alexander Zemlinsky were prepared and performed, and the cooperation with the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln under James Conlon led to CD-productions under the EMI label. At the first guest appearance by a foreign chorus at the Cincinnati May Festival, the Musikverein performed Gustav Mahler's Eight Symphony and Schönberg's Gurre-Lieder together with the May Festival Chorus conducted by James Conlon.
Since 2001 Marieddy Rossetto ist the first female choir conductor in the history of the Städtischer Musikverein. The new choir conductor´s first 15 months were distinguished by challenging achievements: Arnold Schoenberg´s Gurre-Lieder were performed in Düsseldorf together with the Bonn Philharmonic Choir and in Recklinghausen and Gelsenkirchen with a new grouping consisting of choirs from those two towns. At the Berlioz festival in La Coté Saint André Hector Berlioz’ Grande Messe des morts was performed. Immediately after this the Verdi Requiem and his Quattro pezzi Sacri were up for performance in Düsseldorf.
The first months of 2002 were filled with the rehearsal of the Book with Seven Seals by Franz Schmidt. This major project was fulfilled in a mere two and a half months and the work was performed with great success in Düsseldorf in mid March 2002 with the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker under Leon Botstein. In December 2002 Marieddy Rossetto rose to another great challenge for the Städtischer Musikverein with the rehearsal of Peter Ruzicka´s Recherche (-im Innersten), wich, under conduction by the composer, had its first Düsseldorf performance.