Erwin Ortner, born in Vienna, was a member of the Vienna Boys Choir under Ferdinand Grossmann and later studied at the Vienna Academy of Music, among others with Hans Swarowsky and Hans Gillesberger. From 1980 to 2016 he taught as a full professor of choral conducting and choral voice training at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, and from 1996 to 2002 he was the university's rector. Erwin Ortner is the founder and director of the Arnold Schoenberg Choir. From 1983 until its dissolution in 1995, he was also artistic director of the ORF Choir. In 2010 he took over the artistic direction of the Wiener Hofmusikkapelle, which has existed since 1498. Numerous recordings and prizes document his close collaboration with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Concentus Musicus Wien which lasted over four decades, among others, the Grammy in the category »Best Choral Performance« for the recording of Bach's »Matthäus-Passion under Harnoncourt with the Arnold Schoenberg Choir.
Projects with Maurizio Pollini led Erwin Ortner as a conductor to New York, Paris, Tokyo, Rome and Salzburg. Regular invitations from orchestras, opera houses and concert promoters such as the RSO-Wien, Musikverein Wien, Wiener Konzerthaus and Theater an der Wien, Camerata Salzburg, Berlin State Opera, Salzburg Festival or Mozartwoche Salzburg document his numerous engagements as a guest conductor and his varied concert activities at home and abroad. At renowned courses for choral and orchestral conducting, Erwin Ortner is a lecturer in demand worldwide.