In 1957, the Zagreb Municipal Assembly, led by Mayor Većeslav Holjevac, decided to build a concert hall. Plans submitted by a group of architects – Marijan Haberle, Minka Jurković and Tanja Zdvořak – were accepted.
Construction of the Lisinski Hall began in 1961. Besides the architects and contractors, credit also goes to representatives of the city of Zagreb: Mayor Holjevac, President of the National Committee of the city of Zagreba, Ivo Vrhovac, President of the Zagreb Municipal Assembly; Stipe Milanović, President of the Committee for the Construction of the Hall; Ivo Vuljević, the first Director of the Hall and many other distinguished figures in the cultural and public life. The hall is named after Vatroslav Lisinski, the composer of the first Croatian opera, Love and Malice.
Although a free children’s program was presented on December 26, 1973, the official opening, entitled Zagreb Artists for the Zagreb Public, was held on December 29 and 30 of that year, in which all the performers, including the most distinguished ensembles and soloists in the country, donated their services to present a variety classical and popular music.
Since then, December 29 has remained the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall Day, when a varied program, including concerts, exhibits and film projections, is offered throughout the day.
The Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall includes the Main Hall (1,874 seats), Small Hall (304 seats), four conference rooms, a large functional foyer (1,888 m² of horizontal and 300 m² of vertical exhibition space), and three snack bars.
The production and organization of superb musical and also numerous multimedia events have assured the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall the leading position in the concert activities of Croatia, as well as the immediate region. This temple of music is exceptionally aesthetically and acoustically designed, and features the latest technical equipment. Conceived as a multifunctional space, in addition to top concert events, the Hall organizes film premieres, interesting exhibits, and is often the host to international congresses and meetings, thereby systematically cultivating congress tourism while promoting the ecnomic and tourism potentials of Zagreb and Croatia. So far, Lisinski has been the venue for the Days of Oris (an international architectural symposium), the Forum of the Croatian Energy Society, European Day of the Entrepreneur (EDE), the Congress of the European Senior Organization (ESO), the Congress of Small and Medium-Sized Entrepreneurs, the World Congress on the Pathiophysiology of Pregnancy, the World Congress of Perinatal Medicine, the Adria Business Forum, the Congress of the European Academy of Childhood Disability (EACD), Opening Ceremonies of the International Healthy Cities Conference, the Congress of the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), the World Peace Summit, the Opening of the 66th SKÅL World Congress, the South European Convention, Pliva Business Forum, Marketing Forum and the Grand Opening of the Meeting of the States-Parties to the Ottawa Convention.
The Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall has always enjoyed close ties to the Croatian Composers' Society, the Croatian Society of Musical Arts and the Music Academy of Zagreb, resulting in a variety of programs over the years, including Jazz (Lisinski Jazz Series & the Croatian Composers' Society, International Jazz Review and Spring Jazz Review), contemporary compositions (Music Biennale Zagreb) and promising young Croatian musicians (Young Performers at Lisinski Series & the Croatian Society of Musical Arts and the Music Academy Presents). The Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall is also the home of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and the Croatian Radio & Television Symphony Orchestra.
The Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall has long surpassed the confines of Zagreb and Croatia, and is now a place where Croatian culture encounters other cultures. During the past 38 years, Lisinski has organized an impressive number of world- class concerts and performances by top international soloists and ensembles, thereby enriching the local cultural scene (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Bolshoi Theater, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal London Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein, Lovro von Matačić, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Valery Gergiev, Riccardo Muti, Karl Richter, Mariss Jansons, Sergiu Celibidache, Vjekoslav Šutej, Nikša Bareza, Luciano Pavarotti, Jośe Carreras, Dmitrij Hvorostovsky, Leo Nucci, Vladimir Ruždjak, Teresa Berganza, Montserrat Caballé, Inva Mula, Ruža Pospiš Baldani, Dunja Vejzović, Ivo Pogorelić, Marta Argerich, Claudio Arrau, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sviatoslav Richter, Lang Lang, Vadim Repin, Maxim Vengerov, Mischa Maisky, Mstislav Rostropovich etc.).
Besides the leading international names in classical music, Lisinski has also hosted performances by some of the biggest names in pop and jazz (Tina Turner, Nick Cave, Ella Fitzgerald, Sting, Cesaria Evora, the Platters, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Julliette Gréco, Chick Corea, Charles Aznavour, Omara Portuondo, Misia, Paco de Lucia etc.). Keeping pace with contemporary music and avant-garde trends, Lisinski has been chosen by numerous artists as the place to present their newest works, especially during the Music Biennale Zagreb (Igor Stravinski, Krysztof Penderecki, Pierre Boulez, John Cage, Witold Lutoslawski, Mauricio Kagel, Luciano Berio etc.). The exceptional quality and variety of the performances at Lisinski represent a major contribution to the promotion of Croatian music and culture in the world.
This was recognized in the year 2007 when the Croatian Society of Musical Artists presented the Milka Trnina Award to the Lisinski Program Department.
For more than 45 years, the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall has been synonymous with the finest musical performances. The series Saturday Night at Lisinski is a unique package consisting of a classical concert followed by an interview with the performers. This series has introduced the public to the most sought after ensembles and musicians in the world. The success of this series, which started in 1981, was affirmed by the City of Zagreb Award, presented to the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall in 1989.