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The Music Capital of Europe

Statue of Johann Strauss in Stadtpark
The Viennese Opera holds around 300 performances per season
Monument to Mozart  in the Burggarten garden

Cha già José via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA Guillaume Speurt via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Mozart said it was the best city in the world for his profession, and the more than 15,000 concerts held annually in Vienna show he was right.
You can feel it, or rather, hear it in every street, where the greatest composers in history once strolled: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Joseph Haydn, Franz Peter Schubert, Johann Strauss (father and son): Known and admired names, even by those who are not scholars of classical music. But that is not the only reason. The Austrian capital illustrates that, if you want to promote something, first you have to invest. A city cannot boast such a musical and cultural reputation if the spaces have not been created for it first, and the Viennese can boast of having done that: theatres, concert halls, academies, conservatories and the most famous opera in the world, the Vienna State Opera.

Music also permeates the museums. They are dedicated to musical instruments (such as the Renaissance or Baroque instruments in the Hofburg Palace collection) or to the art itself, like the Haus der Musik (House of Music). The latter was the residence of the first director of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and has been converted into a six-floor museum where you will not only see and study instruments and sheet music, but also interact with them creating, for example, your own opera on a virtual stage. Children can also have fun conducting a particular “zoological concert” where each animal sings a musical style. Houses where the musicians lived have also been turned into museums, such as Strauss’ apartment and Mozart’s house, found at Number 5 Domgasse. Despite being born in Salzburg, he gave his first concerts in Vienna, where he enjoyed most success. He lived there for a decade and composed many of his most famous works, including ‘The Magic Flute’. It was in St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a symbol of the city, that Mozart married his wife Constanza and where his funeral was held.

The tourist routes not only take you around the monuments; there are also specific routes to discover the most musical niches of the city. To enjoy 15 minutes of organ music, just go to the Anker clock at the Hoher Markt at noon. If you are looking for something a little more educational, the University of Music and Dramatic Art (MDW) is located right in the centre of town. With luck you’ll be able to attend a concert given by the students.

However, in spite of its undeniable importance, classical music does not hold the monopoly on this art in the city. The Austrian capital has a real penchant for jazz, which can be heard and enjoyed in many pubs and restaurants like the Albertina Passage or Monday's Finest. There’s also the famous Vienna Jazz Festival that takes place every summer in the first week of July. Meanwhile, venues such as Escape or Amananth's Place demonstrate that rock also has an important place in Viennese hearts; since 2015 the Vienna Rock Festival has hosted many of the world's biggest bands. Electronic beats and house are also heard, livening up the city night in numerous Viennese clubs, Flex and Pratersauna being the best examples.

Vienna is a place where silences sound like a waltz, the Ringstrasse is a musical stave and the Viennese people, quavers on a musical scale that runs through every street in the city, from the Prater to the Stephansplatz. Music, maestro!

The Vienna Philharmonic Orquestra

Considered the “best orchestra in the world’, it dates back to the 19th century. Known around the world for the famous New Year Concert, held every 1 January since 1941 and broadcast around the world by television. In spite of its fame, the orchestra has also received criticism for not allowing women to become full members until 1997, a situation that changed with Anna Lelkes, a harpist who finally achieved membership after playing with the orchestra for more than 30 years.

Vienna, birthplace of the waltz

The waltz is a widely-known, fast-stepping dance with a 3/4 time signature and the quasi-official dance at any wedding worth its salt. It was Johann Strauss (the father) who popularised the dance all over the world, composing 152 Viennese waltzes during his lifetime, the most famous being the Lorelei Rhein Klänge. The city of Vienna has picked up the baton of his legacy and today several waltz exhibitions can be seen at the Opera and in theatres. Tourists and Viennese alike can learn it at places like the Rueff Dance School, where you don’t even need to enroll.

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