The historic conception of art music as a border-crossing medium forms the foundation of the Art Ensemble Vienna. The ensemble focuses on selected compositions by classical composers such as Gustav Mahler, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, Johann Sebastian Bach and Johann Strauss with specific respect to the culture of Austria known as the world capital of music, as well as on national and foreign Folk music. The VAE interprets well-known compositions in a unique way by combining classical aesthetics with the hypnotic verve of a jazz quartet. The members of the VAE have performed all across the globe and teach at internationally established tertiary institutions.
The founders and leaders of the Art Ensemble Vienna are Martin Harms and Michael Kahr. The typical formation of the ensemble consists of woodwinds, keys, bass, drums.