Why Vienna is Called the "City of Music"
If you hear “Austria”, you probably think of Sound of Music, Mozart and people yodeling in the mountains, yes? It might be a little clichéd but also true: To this day, Vienna is considered the music capital of the world - at least for classical music. Imagine this: More famous composers have lived in Vienna than in any other city! Every single night, you have the opportunity to see great musicians and artists performing on over 120 stages. Every year, the city puts on 15,000 music events, covering just about every genre imaginable.
These numbers make it difficult to separate the good from the amazing, the fake from the authentic – which is why we put together some of our favorite and most authentic classical stages. Another word of advice: All around the city, especially near our main sights, you come across men dressed in Mozart costumes trying to sell you tickets to classical performances. While they can of course be helpful, they sometimes make it seem that only they have the very last tickets to some performances, which is not true in most cases. We suggest booking directly at the venue (most of them have online booking) or asking your hotel concierge for help.
Here’s where the locals in Vienna like to visit regularly to witness sublime musical performances:
Vienna State Opera
As one of the most important opera houses in the world, the Vienna State Opera is home to 300 performances of about 50 operas and 20 ballets a year - and they change every day! The Opera opened in 1869 with the premiere of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Our tip if you don’t want to commit to a full performance (which can be up to 5 hours long): Be there early to score one of the insanely cheap standing tickets! This way, you are free to leave midway-through. Alternatively, you can take guided tours of the beautiful building to see the backstage area and find out more about its fascinating history.
Theater an der Wien
At Vienna’s newest opera house you can enjoy everything from classical to modern opera as well as contemporary musical theater and dance performances. Beethoven lived in the building for a while, and his only opera Fidelio had its premiere here. It’s also very popular with kids and teens because of their wonderful program oriented towards a younger audience.
If you aren’t that big of an opera fan – don’t worry! There are plenty of amazing concerts to enjoy at the Musikverein (also referred to as the El Dorado of classical music). The famous New Year’s Concert with the Vienna Philharmonic takes place here. Prices start from 7€ (!!).
The Konzerthaus has become quite popular in the past few years with its nouveau ambiance and diverse performances, ranging from the sounds of the Middle Ages to the most progressive electronic music. Here, too, you can take a guided backstage tour to find out more about the 100 year old history.
Musicals in Vienna
If that’s still not what you are looking for, we recommend one of the great musical theaters – the best ones are Ronacher and the Raimund Theater. Top performers and original musicals, first performed in Vienna and even exported to Tokyo and New York, made these theaters known to musical lovers all over the world.