Europe of the Classical Composers
Deepen your appreciation of Europe's greatest composers -
Mozart, Haydn, Dvorak and more - as you explore the cities that
inspired them and hear their music at historic and notable venues.
Walk in their footsteps, listen to their masterpieces where the
composers themselves first heard them, and experience the beauty of the
countries and cities that inspired them to write some of the
world's most loved music.
Classical music has been a cultural mainstay for centuries, and with its ability to elicit raw emotion and weave stories with sound it's an experience everyone should cherish. From the earliest medieval motets to genre-defying modern composers, there's no excuse for not finding something to inspire you.
For the classical music lover, five cities stand out as 'must-visit' destinations:
In Vienna every corner resonates with music. Famous classical
composers lived here, and today you can enjoy their legacy in
first-class venues like the beautiful Wiener Konzerthaus. You won't
have to look far to find a classical music performance in Vienna. Each
year, the Vienna Concert schedules over 15,000 events, from cosy cafe
shows to grand performances in the Vienna Philharmonic. There are even
concerts specifically for those seeking an introduction to the genre.
As the birthplace of Mozart, it's no surprise that Salzburg is
renowned for its classical music. Salzburg is still alive with the
music and memory of the famous composer, with many of the 600 pieces he
wrote regularly performed in concert halls across the city. Mozart's
birthplace, Salzburg is a true heaven for every classical music lover.
Festivals, concerts, operas, museums. Don't forget Mozart Week in
Bach, Wagner, Schumann ... an impressive list of composers created
some of their most famous pieces in this very city. There are plenty of
venues where the music lives on, including the Gewandhaus Concert Hall
that's been rebuilt three times since it was first opened in 1781. From
Wagner to Bach, Leipzig has been home for some of the most important
classical musicians. Don't miss the Gewandhaus Orchestra, one of the
oldest in the world.
In it's heyday, Prague not only produced great composers, it
attracted them too. This legacy lives on as the likes of Beethoven,
Chopin and music from contemporary Czech composers reverberates across
the city thanks to numerous street performers. Prague gave a great
contribution to classical music, and now you can hear notes from Dvorak
and Smetana at the famous Rudolfinum or during the Prague Spring music
festival in May.
In Berlin, the classical genre is more than just music to your ears.
Many of Berlin's historical churches and cathedrals serve as venues for
classical concerts, allowing you to marvel at architectural triumph as
you enjoy some of the most wonderful music mankind has ever created.
City By City Guide to European Classical Music
Amsterdam is home to the famous Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra which regularly performs at the Concertgebouw concert hall together with an array of well-known visiting orchestras. The Dutch National Opera and Ballet offer a first class season for aficionados. Throughout the summer, Amsterdam also hosts three fantastic music festivals: the Holland Festival, Robeco SummerNights and the Grachtenfestival.
Aranjuez, Central Spain
Aranjuez was made famous by the exquisite eponymous Guitar Concerto
Joaquín Rodrigo, written in 1939. Located at the confluence of
the Tagus and Jarama rivers, 42 kilometres south of Madrid, and 44
kilometres from Toledo, Aranjuez has been one of the Royal Estates of
the Crown of Spain since the times of Philip II in 1560. Until 1752,
only the royalty and nobility were allowed to dwell in the town.
Rodrigo's music is among the most popular music of the 20th century. In
particular, his Concierto de Aranjuez is considered one of the
pinnacles of Spanish music and of the guitar concerto repertoire.
Baden-Baden is a spa town in southwestern Germany’s Black
Forest, near the border with France. Its thermal baths led to fame as a
fashionable 19th-century resort. At the home of Johannes Brahms in
Baden-Baden it is still possible to view some of the rooms where the
composer liked to spend his summers. Location: Maximilianstraße
85, 76534 Baden-Baden.
In 1872 Richard Wagner had his own festival theatre built in
Bayreuth, halfway between Munich and Dresden. His last operas
Siegfried, Twilight of the Gods and Parsifal were all given their
premiere in the Bayreuth theatre on the Green Hill. Haus Wahnfried, the
villa that Wagner had built in Bayreuth for his family, is now the
Wagner Museum. Location: Richard-Wagner-Straße 48, 95444
Bayreuth, Germany. Bayreuth's Festspielhaus hosts the Richard Wagner
Festival every summer.
Bergamo, an hour's travel from Milan, Italy, is the birthplace of composer Gaetano Donizetti. The Donizetti Museum is devoted to the composer. The Museo Donizettiano occupies two rooms of a fourteenth to sixteenth century building, property of the Misericordia Maggiore, known as 'Palazzo della Misericordia'. The interior of the main reception room, dedicated to the life and work of Donizetti, is ornately decorated with neoclassical frescoes that date from 1802 which are the work of the painter Bonomini and his assistants. Location: The Donizetti Museum (Museo Donizettiano), Via Arena 9, Bergamo.
Donizetti Theatre was named after the great composer on the occasion of celebrations commemorating the centenary of his birth in 1897. A romantic monument to Donizetti, surrounded by a pond and small garden, can be found alongside the theatre. The Donizetti Theatre hosts prestigious events such as the Bergamo Jazz Festival, the Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli International Piano Festival of Bergamo and the Gaetano Donizetti Music Festival of Bergamo.
Edvard Grieg's home, Troldhaugen, can be found in the Norwegian port
of Bergen. Norway's greatest composer spent his last 22 summers here,
soaking up inspirational fjord beauty and composing many of his
greatest works. You can visit his house on your own, but it's more
enjoyable if you take the included 20-minute tour. Troldhaugen was
Grieg's home from April 1885 to his death. After the death of her
husband in 1907, Nina Grieg moved to Denmark where she spent the
remainder of her life. Grieg's and his wife's ashes rest inside a
mountain tomb near the house.Location: Troldhaugvegen 65, 5232 Paradis,
Norway. In summer, try to also attend the lunchtime piano concert. And
don't miss his little studio near the fjord; in this tiny space Grieg
created some huge works.
Bergen is the home of Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, established in 1756 and now one of the oldest orchestras in world. The Bergen International Festival is held every year for two weeks in May-June, it was modeled after the Salzburg Festival.
Germany's capital has a vibrant music scene, including two major
opera companies. Its Philharmonic Orchestra has a storied history and
has long been considered one of the top 3 or so in the world.
Carl Maria von Weber's most famous work is Der Freischütz, which established the sound and style of German Romantic opera. The first performance took place in the Schauspielhaus on Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin in 1821 and was conducted by the composer himself.
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) grew up in Berlin, the city of his musical mother. He was a musical prodigy and played the piano for the famous poet Goethe, among others, at a very young age. When he was only 17, Mendelssohn composed his masterpiece, the overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream. At that time his family lived at Leipziger Strasse 3 in Berlin, later the site of the upper house of the Prussian parliament and now the Bundesrat. As a pianist, composer and conductor, Mendelssohn made many concert tours to places such as London, Paris and Italy. He was director of music in Berlin and Düsseldorf, and he worked at the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Frankfurt Cecilia Society.
There are numerous memorial sites for Felix Mendelssohn and his equally talented sister Fanny mainly in Berlin and Leipzig but also in Hamburg, the city of his birth. The composer's final residence can be seen in Leipzig at the museum in the Mendelssohn House. Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, who died the same year, were buried in Berlin. His gravestone is at Kreuzberg Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Berlin.
In 1927 German composer Paul Hindemith accepted a professor's post in Berlin. He lived at Brixplatz, where there is now a memorial plaque. The Nazis condemned Hindemith's music as degenerate art and banned it from being performed or broadcast. In 1938 he and his wife emigrated via Switzerland to the USA, where his late symphonic works were composed.
Richard Strauss worked for 20 years from 1898 as court kapellmeister in Berlin. Today a memorial plaque marks the building on Heerstrasse where he composed the operas The Woman without a Shadow and Ariadne on Naxos.
Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born in Bonn in 1770 in a tiny attic
become one of classical music's most celebrated composers. As his
family grew in numbers, they moved into larger houses, however his
birthplace is the only one that remains. Now, over 240 years since his
birth, Beethoven's very first home has become a major tourist
attraction and houses the world's largest Beethoven memorabilia
collection, which includes manuscripts, letters, pictures, busts,
musical instruments, furniture, and household items Beethoven used. The
museum also owns the original "Moonlight Sonata" manuscript and
Beethoven's last piano-forte. Location: 20 Bonngasse, Bonn.
The Beethoven Orchestra plays both symphony concerts in the Beethovenhalle and accompanies opera perfomances in the opera house. The Beethoven Festival takes place annually in September and October.
The Hungarian capital and former second city of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire has a beautiful 19th-century opera house, and its conservatory,
named the Music Academy Liszt Ferenc after one of Hungary's national
musical heroes, is also a lovely building with an excellent concert
hall. The great 20th-century composer, pianist, piano pedagogue and
music folklorist, Béla Bartók (called Bartók
Béla in Hungary) lived and had his studio at Csalán Road
in Buda from 1932 until his departure for New York in 1940, and it is
maintained as a memorial house by the Budapesti History Museum today.
Location: Budapest, Csalán út 29, 1025 Hungary.
Kodály körönd is a circus in Budapest at the intersection of Andrássy Avenue and Felsoerdosor u., with beautifully painted old buildings and statues of four of Hungary's great heroes in each corner. The four buildings on the square form a full circle, with Andrássy út and Szinyei Merse utca intersecting in the middle. Its name honours composer Zoltán Kodály who lived and worked at the Körönd from October 1924 till his death in March 1967. The Zoltán Kodály Memorial Museum and Archives is housed there, and is the only workshop that has basically remained in the condition as left by Kodály.
In a historic building in the winding streets of the Budapest’s Castle District, the Museum of Musical History has a permanent collection and also presents a different, specialized, exhibit each year. The Museum tells the story of music through exhibitions, recitals and concerts. The emphasis on Hungarian music, which is rich in folk traditions and covers a wide spectrum from the rhapsodies of Liszt and the compositions of Bartók and Kodály to Hungarian gipsy music. Location: Táncsics Mihály utca 7, Budapest 1014, Buda, Castle Hill, District 1
This charming town in the northern Italian province of
Emilia-Romagna is synonymous with Giuseppe Verdi, one of the world's
greatest opera composers and an Italian national hero. The official
National Giuseppe Verdi Museum is here, in Villa Palavicino, one of the
grandest ducal properties in the region. Villa Verdi, still in the
family, is where the great composer lived, first out of wedlock, then
in, with soprano Giuseppina Strepponi. In the town's main piazza,
there's a statue of Verdi, while in nearby Le Roncole, you can visit
the house in which he was born. In Parma, 40 kilometres away from
Busseto, lies Teatro Regio, a classic Italian opera hall that dishes up
plenty of Verdi. Book well ahead. National Museum Giuseppe Verdi, Via
Ferdinando Provesi, 35, 43010 Busseto; Casa Natale Verdi, Via della
Processione, 1 Roncole Verdi, Busseto.
Ceský Krumlov, Czech Republic
Ceský Krumlov is home to the picturesque Ceský Krumlov Castle, whose
is the world's only 18th-century opera house that survives in its
original form with no modern additions. Historically-informed opera
performances are still occasionally staged here, making use of the
still functional 18th-century sets, props and stage machinery. The
stage and orchestra pit continue to be illuminated by candlelight
Cremona is a small, pretty, well-kept, bourgeois, mercantile city in
the fertile Po Valley of Italy. The history of this sleepy city is
inexorably intertwined with violins and
other stringed instruments. Cremona is the birthplace of the famous
violin maker Stradivarius; there were dozens of luthiers - makers of
stringed instruments - just like him working in the city centre back
then, and that tradition is still carried on today. More than 140
currently ply their trade here.
Wandering the narrow streets around the Piazza del Comune, you can watch dozens of violinmakers at their workbenches through their storefront windows. If they're not busy or if they're in the right mood, some of them may wave you inside to have a look. That makes Cremona a must-visit for music lovers. Cremona's Violin Museum has a priceless collection of violins including a 1566 model designed by Andrea Amati, credited as the inventor of the modern violin, a Stauffer ex Cristiani cello (1700) and a 1727 Stradivarius known as Vesuvius. Cremona is 1 hr 52 mins by train from Verona via Brescia.
The Semperoper is considered to be one of the most beautiful and
famous opera houses in Germany, the Staatskapelle is one of the
country's leading symphony orchestras. Composers whose biographies are
linked to Dresden include Heinrich Schütz, Carl Maria von Weber,
Richard Wagner and Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Carl Maria von Weber was appointed director of opera in Dresden in 1917, where his summer residence was in Hosterwitz. Today this house is the Carl Maria von Weber Museum (see below). There is a statue of Weber on Theaterplatz in the centre of Dresden. Oberon, Weber's last romantic opera, was composed to an English libretto for the London Opera House. Although he was already ill with tuberculosis, Weber conducted the premiere in London himself; he died there a few weeks later age 39. In 1844 his coffin was transferred to Dresden and laid to rest in the Old Catholic Cemetery. The simple gravestone was designed by Gottfried Semper and lies against the northern boundary wall. The eulogy at the reburial was performed by Richard Wagner.
The Carl Maria von Weber Museum is devoted to the life and work of the German romantic composer. While many of his original possessions were lost in the war, the museum has found other contemporary pieces or copies and the house itself, where Weber wrote many of his most famous works, gives a real sense of early 19th century country life in Germany. Location: Dresdner Strasse 44, 01326 Dresden.
In 1843 Richard Wagner became kapellmeister at the court opera in Dresden and premiered several operas of his own. There are Wagner museums and memorials in Graupa near Dresden, where he stayed in the summer of 1846. Wagner had to flee Dresden after the May uprising of 1849 and he did not return until 1860.
Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach was born on 21 March 1685 in
Eisenach and baptized two days later in St. George's Church. He spent
the first 10 years of his life at Eisenach. The family's musical
tradition brought him into close contact with music and the musical
profession. His father early taught him to play string and wind
instruments. At St. George's, Bach could witness his cousin Johann
Christoph Bach playing the organ, later his favourite instrument.
From1692 until 1695, Johann Sebastian attended the Latin school at
Eisenach and joined its chorus musicus; for its members music lessons
were included in the school's timetable on four days of the week. On 1
May 1694, Bach's mother Elisabeth Bach died, on 20 February 1695 also
Bach's father Ambrosius died. In July 1695, Johann Sebastian and his
brother Johann Jacob left Eisenach to live with the family of their
older brother Johann Christoph in Ohrdruf.
In 1665, Johann Christoph Bach was appointed organist at St. George's in Eisenach. Bach's father Johann Ambrosius Bach accepted a position as the Eisenach council's Haussmann (city music director) in 1671. The family first rented rooms in a half-timbered house in the Rittergasse 11 (directly south of today's museum garden), and owned at the time by the city's forests administrator Balthasar Schneider. Since only property owners could claim citizenship, in 1674 Johann Ambrosius Bach bought a house in the Fleischgass (probably Lutherstrasse 35), its location was 100 metres to the north of today's museum. The original house in the Fleischgass is no longer standing, it was replaced twiceover in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Bach House (above) is a museum
dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach. It displays around 250 original
exhibits, among them a Bach music autograph. The core of the building
complex is a half-timbered house, ca. 550 years old. They have
recreated the furnishings of a bourgeois household from around 1700 and
the staff give short performances of several Bach pieces on the
Eszterháza was the country estate of the Esterházy
family, home of Joseph Haydn from 1766 to 1790, where he had a whole
orchestra for himself to direct and rehearse. He would conduct his own
and others' operas, often with more than a hundred performances per
year. Hayden lived in a four-room flat in a large two-storey building
housing servants' quarters, separate from the palace. Haydn wrote the
majority of his symphonies for the Prince's orchestra. The palace was
geographically isolated, a factor which led to loneliness and tedium
among the musicians. This is seen in some of Haydn's letters, as well
as in the famous tale of the Farewell Symphony.
Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) was born into a musical family
in this northern German city. Both his parents were travelling
musicians and his cousin
Constanze married Mozart in 1782. Carl Maria's birthplace can still be
seen and there is a fine
monument to him in the Carl Maria von Weber memorial grove. The Eutin
Festival pays homage to the composer, who wrote his first opera at the
age of only eleven.
Organ of Predigerkirche. The baroque composer Johann Pachelbel
(1653-1706) was organist at Kaufmannskirche (Merchant's Church), Erfurt, from 1678 until 1690.
Alexander Müller (1808 - 1863) pianist, conductor and composer, was
born in Erfurt. He later moved to Zurich, where he served as leader of
the General Music Society's subscription concerts series. The city is
the birthplace of one of Johann Sebastian Bach's cousins, Johann
Bernhard Bach, as well as Johann Sebastian Bach's father Johann
Ambrosius Bach. Bach's parents were married in 1668 in a small church,
the Kaufmannskirche (Merchant's Church), that still exists on the main
square, Anger. After 1906 the composer Richard Wetz (1875 - 1935) lived
in Erfurt and became the leading person in the town's musical life. His
major works were written here, including three symphonies, a Requiem
and a Christmas Oratorio.
The Predigerkirche (Dominican Church) is a Gothic monastery church
the Dominicans at Prediger-strasse. Since the Reformation in the 16th
century, it is the main Protestant church of Erfurt. The baroque
composer Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) was organist at the church from
1678 until 1690.
Fingal's Cave, Scotland
Classical composers wrote idealised foreign-sounding music from
their imagination. Think of Mozart and the Turks. Romantics like
Mendelssohn, however, prioritised actual experience in the creative
process. Books, paintings and nature were the main sources of
inspiration. Most went south to the ruins of antiquity, but 19-year-old
Felix, at Goethe’s suggestion, went north on a gap-year jaunt to
Scotland and into the wild Celtic culture beyond the Roman wall (his
mum made him visit Sir Walter Scott, whose novels she loved). He
crossed the Highlands, bathed in waterfalls, sketched mountains,
suffered bagpipes and threw up on the Hebridean swell. Despite the
queasiness, Fingal’s Cave came to him with clarity enough to
notate and send home in a letter to sister Fanny.
Florence is one of the most historically significant cities and
arguably the foremost wellspring of secular music in Europe. In the
14th century, composer, performer and poet Francesco Landini served the
city's growing merchant class by writing secular music exclusively.
Regarded along with Venice as the vanguard of the Renaissance, Florence
was ruled for centuries by the famed Medici family, who were great
patrons of the arts. Florence is also the birthplace of opera: Jacopo
Peri's Dafne (now lost), the first opera to ever be composed, was
premiered at the Palazzo Corsi in 1598.
During the 1920s Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) symbolised everything
that was progressive in German music. At the age of only 20, Hindemith
was appointed concertmaster (1st violinist) at Frankfurt Opera House.
From 1923 to 1927 he lived in and wrote amongst others his opera
Cardillac in the Kuhhirtenturm in Frankfurt. This tower opened to the
public as a Hindemith museum in 2011. The Hindemith Institute is based
in Frankfurt too. The exhibition on the life and work of Hindemith is
located on the first and second floors of the Institute. It presents
numerous facsimiles of documents from the composer’s estate and
gives an overview of the most important stages of his life and career.
In addition to the permanent exhibition, there is a film for visitors
to watch as well as original objects that used to belong to Hindemith,
such as his viola d’amore, an album with personal photographs and
his train set. Location: Kuhhirtenturm, Grosse Rittergasse 118 D 60594
Frankfurt am Main.
In later life, Richard Strauss moved to Garmisch-Partenkirchen,
where he had built a villa in 1908. Today Garmisch remembers Strauss
with an annual Strauss Festival and concerts and exhibitions at the
Richard Strauss Institute. Location: Schnitzschulstraße 19, 82467
Genoa is the birthplace of master violinist Niccolò Paganini - a
museum displays one of his violins. It's also home to the prestigious
Teatro Carlo Felice, where Giuseppe Verdi, Igor Stravinsky and Richard
Strauss, among others, conducted presentations. Paganini performed for
the first time as soloist in St. Philip's church on 26th May 1794.
Paganini's favourite violin is shown in the "Sala" (the "Hall") at
Palazzo Tursi (Tursi Palace): it is the famous violin made by Guarnieri
del Gesù in 1743, lovingly called by Paganini "my cannon violin"
because of the fullness of its sound.
Grimaldi Tower in Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) is where Paganini was kept in prison in in May 1815 after being accused of rape and seduction of Angiolina Cavanna, a young girl around her twenties, with whom he lived together and had a stillborn daughter. Paganini was released after a few days of prison on the basis of a compensation agreement. In January 1825 Paganini returned at Palazzo Ducale to play during a reception promoted by the governor of Genoa.
George Frideric Handel was born in the same year as Johann Sebastian
Bach and only around 150 kilometres away in Halle an der Saale.
Although he moved away from Halle at the age of 18, Handel's legacy is
still very much in evidence all around the town. Each year in June,
Halle stages the Handel Festival – venues include the George
Frideric Handel Hall, which hosted its first events in 1998. The Handel
House, the composer's birthplace, opened as a music museum in 1948.
There's also a statue of Handel on the market square, facing west
towards London, the city where his career really took flight.
Handel would never have been able to embark on a musical career without the support of the Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels, who allowed the seven-year-old boy to play for him on the organ. This is commemorated by a plaque at Augustusburg Palace in Weissenfels. Today in Halle there is the Staatskapelle symphony orchestra and the Stadtsingechor, one of Germany's longest-standing boys' choirs.
Composers Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Johannes Brahms were born
in Hamburg, Georg Philipp Telemann, George Frideric Handel, Carl
Philipp Emanuel Bach and Gustav Mahler each spent several years of
their lives here. The city is famous for its State Opera (the first
public opera house in Germany), the Hamburg Philharmonic orchestra,
Hamburg Ballet and its conservatory.
Brahms was born here in 1833, the son of an impoverished musician. The prodigiously talented teenager was forced to supplement the family’s income by playing the piano in taverns and other, dubious institutions: an early immersion in the Hamburg nightworld that has led to various psychological theories about the bearing this might have had on his commitment-phobic attitude to women. Brahms’s early works were composed in this city, including his Piano Sonata No 1, written in 1853 and his first work to be given an opus number. His second sonata had been completed earlier, but he thought this work superior so made it his Opus 1. As he became more famous, Brahms gravitated to Vienna, but after his death in 1897 he was made an honorary citizen of Hamburg, where he is honoured at the Brahms Museum and by memorial plaques and statues in the Laeiszhalle, in the town hall and on Johannes-Brahms-Platz. Brahms Museum: Peterstr. 39, 20355 Hamburg.
Felix Mendelssohn was also born here, in 1809, though in rather more prosperous circumstances – his father was a banker. But the city can’t quite claim ownership of Mendelssohn as his family moved to Berlin two years after his birth. Still, any excuse will do to play the incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The overture, which he wrote when he was 16 and incorporated into the later extended work, is the greatest piece of music by someone so young. Felix’s intensely musical sister Fanny, a notable composer in her own right, was also born in the city.
George Frederic Handel's early success as an opera composer was in Hamburg. He had not even reached his 20th birthday when his first opera Almira was premiered. His operas were most appreciated in England, however, which explains why he spent almost 50 years of his life there.
Two other composers inextricably linked with Hamburg are Georg Philipp Telemann, who became director of music in the city’s principal churches in 1721 at the age of 40, and his godson Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, son of Telemann’s friend JS Bach. CPE Bach succeeded his godfather as music director in Hamburg. After more than twenty years' service as a harpsichordist at the court of Frederick the Great in Potsdam, and having secured his reputation as a composer throughout Europe, CPE Bach took up the post of Director of Church Music in Hamburg in 1768, which he held until his death. The Telemann Museum focuses on the careers of Telemann CPE Bach and Johann Adolf Hasse (an 18th-century German composer, singer and teacher of music), with musical examples from them spread throughout the museum. Location: Peterstr. 39 | Neustadt, 20355 Hamburg.
Gustav Mahler was chief conductor at the Hamburg State Opera, Germany’s oldest public opera house, in the 1890s. Mahler conducted the German premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in the city – the composer was in attendance and pronounced Mahler’s conducting “astounding” – and worked on his own second and third symphonies while employed at the opera house. Almost a century later, Hungarian composer György Ligeti was professor of composition at the city’s music academy in the 70s and 80s. One of his last works was the Hamburg Concerto, for solo horn and chamber orchestra.
Alfred Schnittke lived in Hamburg for the last eight years of his life – he died in 1998 – and his first few years there were, despite chronic ill health, highly productive. The works he wrote included the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth symphonies. There was even a Ninth, produced after a devastating stroke in 1994, though the fact that the score was barely decipherable and has had to be reconstructed by other composers has contributed to arguments over its critical value.
Finally, of course, there are the Beatles. John Lennon once said: “I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg.” It was where the group, who spent long periods there from 1960-62, came of age musically – and indeed, in every other way. They went from five members to four while performing in the city: Stuart Sutcliffe opted out and then died suddenly; they met Ringo Starr, who in 1962 replaced drummer Pete Best; and they had their early image defined by Hamburg-based photographer Astrid Kirchherr, who was engaged to Sutcliffe before his sudden death from a brain haemorrhage.
The Finnish capital is home of Jean Sibelius, and a modern opera
house opened in 1993.
Sibelius's work may not say "Helsinki", but the city was central to his
life. He studied there, premiered many of his works there, and wined
and dined to excess there before building a retreat, which he named
Ainola, after his wife, 30 miles north of the city. He is synonymous
with Finland and Finnish music, and deservedly in any pantheon of great
composers. The home of Sibelius is at Ainolankatu, 04400
Johann Sebastian Bach worked here as the cantor (musical director
and teacher) of St. Thomas church, from 1723 until his death in 1750 -
for a time, he even composed a new cantata every week. His remains are
buried under a bronze epitaph near this church's altar. At the
entrance, there's a Bach monument commissioned by Mendelssohn and by
the altar is Bach's grave. The Bach Museum is right next door. You'll
see the actual organ console where Bach played his favorite instrument,
an iron chest that came from his household, and original manuscripts.
With the help of the excellent audioguide, this museum is an absolute
delight for music lovers. The Leipzig Bach Festival is held each year
Romantic composer Richard Wagner and piano virtuosa Clara Schumann were born in Leipzig; Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy spent several years of their lives here. There are museums dedicated to these musicians and their works in their respective homes. Another museum displays rare and historic musical instruments. Both the Gewandhaus orchestra and the St Thomas boys' choir are classical music groups of international renown. Finally, the city has a notable musical conservatory (you may have an opportunity to listen to its advanced students).
Wagner was born in Leipzig and began his music studies there in 1831. It's fascinating to explore the city in his footsteps although much of his youth was spent in Dresden.
Museums in Leipzig which celebrate its famous composers and the music they created are:
Bach Museum, Thomaskirchhof 15/16, 04109, Leipzig - celebrating the life and works of JS Bach.
Mendelssohn-Haus Leipzig, Goldschmidtstr. 12, 04103, Leipzig - charming two-story home of composer Felix Mendelssohn, now a museum detailing his Leipzig years.
Museum fur Musikinstrumente der Universitat Leipzig, Johannisplatz 5 _ 11, 04103, Leipzig - is a museum celbrating musical instruments. The myseum has interactive components for listening to historical instruments and playback devices. The museum is arranged by era, starting with the Renaissance, then Baroque, Classical, Biedermeier period, Romantic, End of the 19th Century, and 20th Century. Parts of it concentrate on Leipzig composers, instrument makers, and collectors. Limited displays with English text.
During 1783 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart resided in a three-storey
Renaissance house at Altstadt 17, 4020 Linz as the guest of the Count
of Thun. The entrance to the building, appropriately named Mozarthaus
today, contains a bust of the famous composer and a sound installation
with the opening bars of the famous symphony. The Mozarthaus can only
be viewed from the outside, although there is an idyllic open-air
café in the courtyard. Mozart wrote his
Symphony No. 36 (1783) in Linz for a concert to be given there, and the
work is known today as the Linz Symphony. He wrote it from start to
finish in three days. He reportedly also composed his Piano Sonata 13
in B flat while in Linz, although it was published in Vienna.
Anton Bruckner was born in Ansfelden near Linz and spent several years working as a conductor and organist in Linz, where he also started to compose. The Brucknerhaus, a famous concert hall in Linz is named after Bruckner. The first version of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 in C minor is known as the Linz version.
London has a long and distinguished musical history, first as the
centre of Elizabethan musical greatness and then as the city which many
composers from the Continent toured or moved to to make their fortunes,
among them Handel, Johann Christian Bach, Haydn and Mendelssohn. While
England has for the most part lacked composers with the fame of Mozart
and Beethoven, it has nevertheless produced several internationally
renowned composers such as Henry Purcell, Edward Elgar and Benjamin
Britten, all of whom spent much of their careers in London. Today,
London is one of the world's leading cities for classical music. It is
home to the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the London
Symphony, the Royal Opera at Covent Garden and numerous other
performing organizations and features a fantastic concert hall, the
Royal Albert Hall, from where the Proms (see "Events" below) are
broadcast every year. In modern times, London is also known for its
conservatories of music, the most famous ones being the Royal Academy
of Music, the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music
The German-born George Frideric Handel moved to London in his mid-20s (a welcome economic migrant), became a British citizen and lived there for the rest of his life, dying at the age of 74 at his Mayfair home at 25 Brook Street. Handel moved there in July 1723, when the house was newly built. It was there that he composed his best-known works, including the oratorio Messiah (1741) and 'Music for the Royal Fireworks'(1749). The building is today a museum celebrating the composer's life and work. The adjoining building (23 Brook Street) was the home of rock musician Jimi Hendrix (1942-70) in the 1960s, his quarters are today occupied by part of the George Fredick Handel Museum.
London can (sort of) also claim Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The Philharmonic Society of London commissioned a symphony from him in 1817, but it wasn’t completed for seven years, so Vienna got the premiere while London had to make do with the score, on the front page of which Beethoven inscribed “written for the Philharmonic Society in London”. It is delicious to think that Beethoven’s Choral Symphony, the rousing last movement of which, with its “Ode to Joy”, has become the anthem of the European Union, began life in London.
British Composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) lived at 173 Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, 1931-1933. The son of a dentist, Britten was born in the fishing port of Lowestoft in Suffolk. While studying at Charing Cross Hospital in London he met Edith Hockey, the daughter of a junior Home Office official. They were married in September 1901 at St John's, Smith Square, London. In 1930, Britten had won a composition scholarship at the Royal College of Music and moved to London. He studied composition with John Ireland and piano with Arthur Benjamin, and won the Sullivan Prize for composition, the Cobbett Prize for chamber music, and was twice winner of the Ernest Farrar Prize for composition.
180 Ebury Street, Belgravia, London, is where classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) composed his first symphony, in 1764. The eight-year-old prodigy composed the pice while he and his family stayed for here for several weeks. Ebury Street, then known under the name of Five Fields Row, was chosen as a suitable place for Mozart's father to recover after a minor illness.
The Tuscany town of Lucca is the birthplace of composers Giacomo Puccini (La Boheme and Madama Butterfly), Nicalao Dorati, Francesco Geminiani, Gioseffo Guami, Luigi Boccherini, and Alfredo Catalani. Casa di Puccini in Corte San Lorenzo, is where Puccini spent his childhood. Here you can see the piano on which he composed Turandot, drafts and costumes, as well as letters and a large part of the family photos. Bronze statues honour Puccini and fellow composer, Luigi Boccherini (photo above). A charming home in nearby Torre del Lago is a place loved by the musician. A Puccini opera festival takes place every July-August.
The music of Classical era composer and cellist Luigi Boccherini retained a courtly and galante style while he matured somewhat apart from the major European musical centres. Boccherini was born in Lucca, Italy, into a musical family. His father, a cellist and double-bass player, sent him to study in Rome at a young age. In 1757 they both went to Vienna, where the court employed them as musicians in the Burgtheater.
The earliest records of the existence of musical schools in Lucca can be found in sources of the 7th century; the teaching of music was later considered to be of primary importance and indispensable for the continuity of the musical tradition, in a city where the art of sound has always enjoyed considerable space and which has given birth to many internationally renowned musicians. The current Higher Institute of Musical Studies Luigi Boccherini originated on 14 August 1842 when the Duke Carlo Ludovico di Borbone issued a decree with which he reordered, according to a single regulation, the public music schools; Thus was born the Musical Institute whose management was entrusted to Giovanni Pacini. On the occasion of the second centenary of the birth of Luigi Boccherini - February 19, 1943 - the Institute changed its name to that of the famous musician.
For six years, Richard Wagner occupied a manor perched on the
shore of Lake Lucerne. The building was bought by the city in 1931, and
converted into the museum just two years later. Inside the lovely
estate, you'll find various manuscripts and objects from Wagner's time
spent in Lucerne. The manor itself is even a registered and protected
historic site, and can be traced back to the 15th century. Location:
Weg 27, CH- 6005 Lucerne.
Claudio Monteverdi's favola in musica, L'Orfeo (1607), one of the
earliest operas and the oldest one that's still much performed today,
was written for the city's ruling Gonzaga family and premiered in one
of the rooms of the Ducal Palace (which room is not known).
In Meiningen, where Johannes Brahms conducted the premiere of his
4th Symphony in 1885, there is a Brahms memorial celebrating his long
association with the Meiningen Court Orchestra.
Milan's La Scala is arguably the world's single most famous and
prestigious opera house, where immortal names like Enrico Caruso and
Maria Callas built their reputations.
Moscow is another important city in the history of classical music
where many Russian
composers of the Romantic period worked. Home to the stately Bolshoi
Theatre, whose Bolshoi Ballet is one of the best regarded in the world,
and where Tchaikovsky's famous ballet Swan Lake (1876) premiered.
Home to the Bavarian State Opera (Bayerische Staatsoper), one of
Germany's premier opera companies, which is housed in the historic
National Theatre (Nationaltheater). Several famous works, such as
Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (1865) had their premiere here.
Carl Orff (1895-1982) was born into an Upper Bavarian family in Munich. Carmina Burana is the work that made him famous and its scenic choruses, which echo medieval music, have often been used in film music, pop and rock. Orff attended the Wittelsbach Grammar School and the then Royal Academy of Music before becoming kapellmeister at the Kammerspiele theatre. There is a memorial plaque on the house on Maillinger Strasse where he was born and lived until 1939, and a concert hall at the Gasteig arts centre bears his name. Orff's most famous work Carmina Burana, which was premiered in Frankfurt in 1937, is a setting of texts from a medieval manuscript that was discovered and edited in the 19th century.
In 1955 Orff moved to Diessen am Ammersee, a lakeside resort where he had spent his holidays as a child and where the Carl Orff Museum opened in 1991. The composer is buried at nearby Andechs Abbey, where the annual Carl Orff Festival and the Orff Academy keep his memory alive.
In 1864, Richard Wagner met his most important patron, the 'fairytale' king, Ludwig II of Bavaria, in Munich, where four of his operas were premiered between 1865 and 1870. A monument and a memorial plaque commemorate Wagner's Munich years. In 1872 Wagner had his own festival theatre built in Bayreuth, halfway between Munich and Dresden. His last operas Siegfried, Twilight of the Gods and Parsifal were all given their premiere in the Bayreuth theatre on the Green Hill. Haus Wahnfried, the villa that Wagner had built in Bayreuth for his family, is now the Wagner Museum.
The son of a Munich musician, Richard Strauss is said to have started composing when he was only six. At the age of 22, he became kapellmeister in Munich and soon rose to fame as a composer. He is commemorated in Munich with a memorial plaque at the house of his birth and the Richard Strauss fountain (Salome fountain) in the pedestrian area.
Better known as the home of pizza, Naples was a very important
centre of classical music from the 16th to early 20th century. The
Neapolitan school of opera was founded by Alessandro Scarlatti
(1660-1725), whose family members included other well-regarded
composers such as his son, Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), as well as
his nephew or grandson, Giuseppe Scarlatti (1718/1723-1777). Though
largely forgotten today, it was one of, if not the most important
schools of opera during the Baroque and Classical periods. Composers of
this school who were famous during their lifetimes included Nicola
Porpora, Johann Adolph Hasse, Giovanni Battitsta Pergolesi, Leonardo
Leo, Leonardo Vinci (not to be confused with the Renaissance painter,
Leonardo da Vinci), Domenico Cimarosa, Giovanni Paisiello and Giuseppe
Sarti. Naples' 18th-century opera house, Teatro di San Carlo (founded
in 1737), still hosts opera and other performances today.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
The castle's architecture and decoration are wholly inspired by
Richard Wagner's epic operas Tannhäuser and Lohengrin, greatly
admired by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who ordered its building.
As the capital of France for hundreds of years, Paris has played a
major role in the history and development of classical music in Europe.
Leoninus and Perotinus, the most famous early composers of organum,
wrote their music for performance at the Romanesque and Gothic versions
of the Notre Dame Cathedral, respectively. During the Baroque period,
quite a few great composers, such as the Italian Jean-Baptiste Lully
(Giovanni Battista Lulli, the inventor of French opera), Marc-Antoine
Charpentier and Jean-Philippe Rameau, worked for the royal court in
Versailles, now a suburb of Paris. The Baroque period also saw the
development of the high tenor, or haute-contre voice in the heroic
roles of French opera, due to the fact the famed castrati who were
popular in the rest of the continent never manged to get a foothold in
France. Later in the 18th century, several of Haydn's symphonies and
other works were performed to great acclaim in Paris, and the French
opera tradition continued with composers such as the German Christoph
Willibald Gluck, the Italian Antonio Salieri, and the Belgian
André Grétry composing many critically acclaimed works.
In the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, a long list of famous composers lived and worked in Paris, including the Belgian César Franck, the Frenchmen Hector Berlioz, Jules Massenet, Georges Bizet, Gabriel Fauré, Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Francis Poulenc, the Italians Gioachino Rossini and Giuseppe Verdi, the Pole Frédéric Chopin (Fryderyk Szopen) and the Russians Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev. Several famous organist/composers had regular jobs at churches throughout town, including St. Sulpice and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. The operetta was also invented here by the German composer Jacques Offenbach, whose operetta Orphée aux enfers (1858) contains a few pieces still instantly recognisable by current-day listeners.
The Opéra Garnier is a lovely, historic and iconic building that houses the world-renowned Paris Opera Ballet (Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris). The newer Opéra Bastille, widely considered one of the best in the world, houses the Paris Opera (Opéra National de Paris), one of the world's premier opera companies. Another significant though less well known venue is the Opéra-Comique, where Bizet's famed opera Carmen had its premiere in 1875. Paris today has a very varied performance scene and remains vital as a centre for new and experimental music, as exemplified by the ongoing work at IRCAM, the Institute for Acoustic/Musical Research and Coordination founded by the recently deceased Modernist composer and conductor, Pierre Boulez, and the Ensemble Intercontemporain, which he also founded.
That consummate Parisian Erik Satie lived in the city in its Belle Époque heyday at the turn of the 20th century. His enigmatic Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes, composed for solo piano, are a private reverie on a world that would be blown away by the first world war. What may be the world's smallest museum, the one room Musée-Placard d'Erik Satie, is modeled after Satie's tiny apartment can only be visited by appointment. Admission is free. Inside are original drawings and manuscripts by Satie as well as a few other documents and scale models. Location: Musée-Placard d'Erik Satie, Paris.
Maison Claude Debussy is a quaint museum is located in Debussy's birthplace, and houses original manuscripts, documents, and artifacts. There's also a small performance hall on the third floor. Location: Rue au Pain 38, Saint-Germain-en-Laye 78100 (outside of Paris).
Maurice Ravel's Grave can be found in Cimetiere de Levallois-Perret, Paris. Ravel's most notable work, was the Bolero. While in Paris, make sure to put a flower next to his grave.
Mozart wrote a work which came to be known as the Paris symphony, written in the French capital in 1778 when he was just 22. It is one of his greatest symphonies, scored for the largest orchestra he had written for at that point. He seems to have had scant regard for French audiences and remarked: “I hope that even these idiots will find something in it to like.” He need not have worried: the reception on its premiere in June 1778 was ecstatic.
It was in Paris, at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on 29 May 1913, that Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring was premiered, producing a near-riot in the audience, at a stroke revolutionising 20th-century music and seeming to prefigure the violence of the war that broke out the following year.
Palermo's Teatro Massimo is an architectural and acoustical
masterpiece, the third largest opera house in Europe, and served as
scenery to the final scenes (which feature the opera Cavalleria
Rusticana) of the film The Godfather Part III.
Prague, Czech Republic
Capital of the Czech Republic in modern times, and capital of the
Kingdom of Bohemia in the time of Mozart, Prague has arguably the best
preserved 18th-century downtown core of any major city in Europe.
Mozart was actually more popular in Prague than he was in either
Salzburg or Vienna during his lifetime, and his famous opera Don
Giovanni (1787) premiered here at the Estates Theatre (Stavovské
divadlo). The ink was barely dry on the score: Mozart completed it the
day before the first performance. Despite the chaos of the preparation,
which necessitated a two-week postponement, the production was a great
success. Estates Theatre has the distinction of being the only
surviving venue in the world in which a Mozart opera had its premiere,
as well as the only surviving venue in which Mozart had personally
conducted his operas.
Mozart was venerated by the musical public in Prague. In 1787, he made two month-long visits to the city, enjoyed a number of other shorter stays and warmed to the adoration he received. His first visit, in January of that year, saw the premiere of the “Prague” symphony – Symphony No 38 in D major, to give it its proper title – a glorious work occasionally overlooked because of the focus on Mozart’s final three symphonies. Mozart’s final visit to the city was in September 1791, just months before his death. He had come to conduct the premiere of La Clemenza di Tito, commissioned to mark the accession of Leopold II, the Holy Roman emperor, as King of Bohemia. The Estates theatre was again the venue. Mozart is reckoned to have bashed the opera out in 18 days, possibly with help from Franz Xaver Süssmayr (remembered today, above all, for his skilful completion of Mozart’s Requiem). Fittingly, the Oscar-winning movie Amadeus was entirely shot in Prague.
Prague was also the birthplace of Josef Myslivecek, one of Mozart's contemporaries who was hugely popular in his time but has largely faded into obscurity today, and also where many later Czech composers of the Romantic period, such as Antonín Dvorák, Bedrich Smetana and Leoš Janácek spent most of their careers.
The Bedrich Smetana museum honours one of the most important Czech composers. The museum brings together many artifacts to present Smetana's life story. In one display you can use the conductor's baton and point at the music stands to play one of Smetana's compositions. Location: situated in the centre of Prague in a small block of buildings right next to the Charles bridge on the right bank of Vitava River - Novotneho lavka 201/1 | Praha 1, Staré Mesto, Prague 110 00, Czech Republic.
Antonín Dvorák, who was born in a village on the banks of the Vltava close to Prague and took up the baton from Smetana as the exemplar of Czech music, also studied in Prague and played in a theatre orchestra in the city. Dvorak's work reflects the spirit of his homeland: Bohemia under the Austrian Empire, the Czech Republic today. The museum dedicated to Dvorak is housed in Villa Amerika, a 1720 confection that is worth a look for its Baroque and Rococo decoration. It houses a permanent collection dedicated to Dvorak's life and hosts regular performances of his work. The Prague Spring International Music Festival, a multi-genre event that takes over the city's many beautiful venues, features a Dvorak component
It is impossible to ignore the beauty of the musical instruments preserved in the Czech Museum of Music: carved and gilded wood; marvellous figures guarding the sounds of now silent music. Audio devices allow visitors to listen to the instruments in the cases, violins, pianos, trumpets, organs, etc. Location: Karmelitska 2/4, 118 00 Praha 1, Prague.
The popes have been patrons of music for over 1,000 years. Famous
composers in the Papal Court have included the Renaissance masters
Josquin des Prez and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Giacomo
Carissimi, a Roman composer in the early Baroque style of the early
17th century, is widely credited as being a seminal figure in the
development of the oratorio, as he wrote opera-like compositions on
Biblical themes for sacred concerts he directed at the Oratorio di
Santissimo Crocifisso. In spite of the fact that the Church officially
prohibited castration, nevertheless, due to the fact that women were
banned from singing in public in the Papal States, Rome saw the rise of
the castrati (men who had been castrated before they hit puberty),
starting in the second half of the 16th century.
From ear-witness reports, castrati were able to sing in ranges from alto to soprano like women, but with the tremendous lung power of a big man (as castrated men grow taller than non-castrated men), with the great Farinelli said to have had a range from tenor all the way up to high soprano, and to have been able to sing continuously for over a minute without taking a breath. The appeal of castrati spread beyond Rome to the rest of the continent (except France), with some castrati becoming sex symbols and superstars on the opera stage, such that the heroic roles in Italian Baroque operas were almost always assigned to castrati.
Although technically in the Vatican, visitors to Rome can visit the Sistine Chapel where the castrati first rose to prominence, and also where the practice continued to survive long after the castrati lost their prominence on the operatic stage until Alessandro Moreschi, the last castrato, died in 1922. Today, Rome is home to the Santa Cecilia conservatory, which also hosts the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, probably Italy's best symphony orchestra other than the RAI National Symphony Orchestra, which is based in Turin.
St Petersburg, Russia
The former imperial capital of Russia was also where many famous
composers of the Romantic period such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Modest
Mussorgsky worked for a significant amount of time during their
careers. The city boasts the Mariinsky Theatre, home to the Mariinsky
Ballet, one of the world's most renowned ballet companies, which was
most notably the location of the premiere of Tchaikovsky's famous
ballet, "The Nutcracker" (1892).
Salzburg is forever smiling to the tunes of Mozart. You'll get a
double-dose of Wolfgang Amadeus here - the Mozart Birthplace and
the Mozart Residence. The house where Mozart was born is also where he
composed most of his boy-genius works. Today it's the most popular
Mozart sight in town. You'll peruse three floors of rooms with exhibits
displaying paintings, letters, personal items, and lots of facsimiles,
all attempting to bring life to the Mozart story. The Mozart Residence
- Mozart's second home (his family moved here when he was 17) -
is a little less interesting than the house where he was born, but it's
also roomier, less crowded, holds a piano that Mozart actually owned,
and comes with an informative audioguide. One combo-ticket will get you
into both Mozart places.
Mozart's father, Leopold, and his widow, Constatia von Nissen, were buried in Salzburg within the Saint Sebastian churchyard.
Music lovers may visit a concert of the Mozarteum Orchestra, an opera performance at the Salzburger Landestheater or one of the frequent Salzburger Schlosskonzerte of chamber music. In July and August of each year, the world-famous Salzburg Festival takes place.
The Cathedral of San Marco was the workplace of great composers, and
especially Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli. The Gabrielis were known for
their music for antiphonal choirs of voices and instruments, which was
produced by placing two choirs in choir lofts on opposite sides of the
church for a stereophonic effect. The music also symbolized the unity
of the church and state, whose representatives in those days sat on
opposite sides of the pews. This contrast and unity of choirs with
different tone colors and dynamics (piano and forte, as in Giovanni
Gabrieli's Sonata pian'e forte, the first musical work to be notated
with dynamic markings) helped to bring about the stilo moderno (modern
style) in the late 16th and early 17th centuries that we now call the
The 18th-century composer Antonio Vivaldi, renowned in his day for his operas as well as his instrumental and sacred music, was another famous Venetian. The Venetian school, which included Vivaldi and other then-famous composers such as Antonio Caldara and Baldassare Galuppi, was one of the great schools of Baroque opera, rivalling the Neapolitan school. Venice was the home of the first large public opera house, built in 1642, and has since 1774 hosted the Teatro la Fenice, Venice's opera house which has been destroyed by fire and rebuilt three times.
Museo della Musica is located in the Church of San Maurizio and San Giacomo di Rialto Church. The former celebrates Vivaldi and other famous musicians, with plenty of old instruments (violins, violas, contrabass). On display at San Giacomo di Rialto Church are musical instruments from such Italian makers as Bisiach, Rocca, Testore, Amati, Gagliano, Guadagnini, Goffriller, and Grancino. Location: Campo San Maurizio 2761, 30124 Venice.
"Viva Vivaldi - The Four Seasons Mystery" is a unique, sensorial and musical experience. It offers a portrait of Antonio Vivaldi through music and colours, thanks to a unique system that combines large HD images and surround sound with with scent special effects. The show amplifies and enhances the beauty of Sant’Apollonia Complex just behind Piazza San Marco.
Vienna is to classical music what Athens is to sculpture and
to painting. You can make pilgrimages to the homes (now mostly small
museums) of many composers: Schubert, Brahms,
Haydn, Beethoven, or Mozart. You may find these places inconveniently
located and generally underwhelming.
Vienna was a very influential city during the days of the multinational Austrian Empire and could arguably be considered the world's historical centre of the universe of classical music, or at least classical instrumental music, from the 2nd half of the 18th century to the early 20th century. Many prominent classical music composers lived and worked in Vienna — most prominently, those of the First (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Salieri) and Second (Schoenberg, Berg and Webern) Vienna Schools — and the city even today boasts famous venues like the Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) and the Festival Hall (Festsaal) of the Hofburg Palace. It was also the birthplace of Johann Strauss II, famous for his waltzes and other dance music, as well as his operettas. Many fans of classical music consider the Vienna Philharmonic to be among the world's very best symphony orchestras.
Vienna is also home to the Burgtheater, the former imperial theatre of the Austro-Hungarian empire, built in 1888 to replace an older, now demolished, theatre of the same name in which Mozart had premiered his famous operas Le nozze di Figaro (1786) and Così fan tutte (1790). Yet another important location in the history of classical music is the Theater an der Wien, built in 1801 by the troupe for whom Mozart composed his final opera, The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) (1791), with its Papageno Gate (Papagenotor) having been built in honour of one of the characters in that opera. The theatre also served as the premiere venue for several famous operas such as Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus (1874). Theater an der Wien is where Beethoven had an apartment between 1804 and 1806. His 3rd, 5th, 6th Symphonies, Fidelio (1805) and other works were premiered here.
Johannes Brahms only became genuinely successful when he reached Vienna, where he wrote the Hungarian Dances and was hailed as 'the successor to Beethoven'. On April 3, 1897, just a few years from the turn of the century, Brahms died from liver cancer and was laid to rest in Vienna's Zentralfriedhof.
What looks like a picturesque home with a lovely courtyard was actually home to about 16 different families when Franz Schubert was born. Though Schubert and his family lived here for only four and half year's after his birth, the home is now a museum that houses artifacts from the composers life including his spectacles and manuscripts, as well as paintings, drawings, and Schubert's guitar. During the summer months, concerts are often performed in the courtyard. Two of the rooms in the Schubert house are dedicated to Adalbert Stifter, the great writing contemporary of Schubert. Location: 9., Nussdorfer Strasse 54
Perhaps the most poignant of all the Wien Museum’s composer memorials is the house where Schubert died near Naschmarkt. Franz Schubert lived here for several weeks as his brother's guest in an apartment consisting of two rooms and a cabinet study on the second floor of the Biedermeier house, until his death on 19 November 1828. Here he composed his last works, among them the song "The Shepherd on the Rock". Location: 1040 Vienna, Kettenbrückengasse 6.
Vienna was the focal point of Ludwig van Beethoven's life for more than 35 years. The traces of the composer are manifold: from a new large Beethoven Museum, homes and memorials, places of his triumph and doubt, monuments and Klimt's Beethoven Frieze through to the Beethoven wine tavern. Beethoven lived in the Pasqualati House (named after its owner) in the centre of Vienna on several occasions between 1804 and 1815. The composer worked here on his opera "Fidelio" and on piano pieces such as the well-known "Für Elise". Pasqualati House is today a museum with a collection that includes his death mask. The view of the Ringstrasse boulevard and the University from the fourth-floor apartment is spectacular. Location: Beethoven Pasqualati House, Mölker Bastei 8 1010 Vienna.
A large portion of Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, the "Eroica" was written at Eroica House between May and November 1803. Ludwig van Beethoven spent the summer of 1803 here in the Viennese suburb of Oberdöbling, which at the time was surrounded by fields, gardens and vineyards. The Eroica Symphony had its first private performance at Lobkowitz Palace. The Eroica House Museum contains copies of documents related to the first performance and Beethoven’s feelings about Napoleon. Images of the Dobling area of Vienna when Beethoven lived there. Location: Döblinger Hauptstraße 92 1190 Vienna.
The Beethoven Museum in Baden (an hour outside the city) is a small dedicated to Beethoven. Once the home of Beethoven, its upstairs rooms show where he lived and entertained. He composed the 9th simphony here. The composer’s apartment here is one of the few of his residences that can be visited. It is easy to get to on a tram that leaves across from the Vienna State Opera. Location: Rathausgasse 10, 2500 Baden, Austria.
Heligenstadt Testament Museum occupies the house where Beethoven lived when he realized his deafness would not improve. He wrote his famous Heligenstadt Testament here. It is a small apartment in a picturesque little courtyard. Location: Laimgrubengasse 22 is one of the buildings where Beethoven lived as he worked on his 9th Symphony. Very close to one of the hotels we use in Vienna. Today there is a good restaurant next door named “Ludwig Van”.
My personal favourite musical setting in Vienna is not a single home, however, but an entire "House of Music." The Haus der Musik is a high-tech experience that celebrates the hometown specialty. The museum, spread over five floors and well-described in English, is unique for its effective use of interactive touch-screen computers and headphones to explore the physics of sound. The museum also features fine audiovisual exhibits on each of the famous local heroes. Before leaving, pick up a virtual baton to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic.
Vienna is the place to pay your respects to many a legendary composer at Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery). Beethoven was originally buried next to Franz Schubert in the Waehringer Ortsfriedhof (Waehringer local cemetery), several kilometers away, but both were later exhumed and moved to the Central Cemetery in 1888. As with Beethoven, Schubert was originally buried in Vienna's Waehringer Ortsfriedhof, but was later moved to the Central Cemetery after his grave fell into disrepair.
There are plenty of mysteries surrounding Mozart's death and burial in Vienna. Mozart was not buried in a mass pauper's grave, as portrayed in the film, Amadeus, but an unmarked one. Though the exact burial site of Mozart is unknown, a tombstone was erected in Vienna's out-of-the-way St Marx Cemetery based on a few educated guesses. It is said that a gravedigger named Joseph Rothmayer knew where Mozart's body was buried. He supposedly recovered Mozart's skull in 1801, which is now in the possession of the International Mozarteum Foundation. The spot where Rothmayer found the skull is where the tomb is located today. It is marked by a statue of a crying angel. No more perfect memorial for the world’s greatest composer can be imagined. The stone angel and broken column are the result of restoration efforts in 1950, which repaired damage caused by World War II bombing. The column was never intended to be broken, however its present state seems appropriate for a life extinguished well before its time.
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