The Best Classical Concerts In Vienna

A Guide For Music-Loving Tourists

Attending one or more classical concerts in Vienna is an opportunity not to be missed by music lovers. No other city can claim to have been home to a more impressive list of composers.  Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Joseph Haydn, Arnold Schoenberg, Gustav Mahler and last but not least, the waltz king, Johann Strauss – they all contributed to make Vienna the classical music capital of the world.

Wiener Symphoniker’s orchestra concert in the Wiener Konzerthaus©WienTourismus/Peter Rigaudmax.
Vienna Symphony Orchestra concert in the Konzerthaus. ©Vienna Tourism/Peter Rigaudmax.

The good news for tourists is that classical music concerts in Vienna are very accessible to the general public. Around 10,000 music fans are treated to classical concerts in Vienna every night. Tickets cost anything from €5 (standing opera tickets) to

Vienna’s music venues range from grand concert halls such as the State Opera, Musikverein, Konzerthaus and the Volksoper to the city’s cathedrals and palaces. There’s no doubt that the city still sets the tone as the capital of classical music, where gifted musicians pay homage to timeless pieces created by the likes of Mozart and Strauss.

A Short History Of Strauss And Mozart Concerts In Vienna

Vienna became a mecca for composers during the 18th and 19th centuries, due in large part to the patronage and influence of the Habsburgs. Also known as the House of Austria, the House of Habsburg was among the most influential royal houses of Europe, holding the throne of the Holy Roman Empire for three centuries.

While many composers gravitated to the city during the classical renaissance, two notable Austrian natives gained favour from the aristocracy, Wolfgang Mozart and Johann Strauss I.

Mozart, best known for his symphonies, concertos, and operas, had found support from Emperor Joseph I. Later on, Strauss, primarily recognised for his waltzes, achieved recognition from Ferdinand II.

The royal sanction granted to Mozart and Strauss in Vienna ensured them both lasting legacies, and their compositions are still held to be among the most popular among classical audiences of today. That’s why the music of these two native sons form part of most classical concerts in Vienna.

Music venues available during Mozart and Strauss’s time in Vienna were limited. Since then, Vienna has seen many grand concert halls erected where gifted musicians pay homage to the timeless classical pieces created during its prime.

The Best Classical Music Concerts In Vienna

Musikverein Vienna

Classical concerts in Vienna are dominated by two venues, the Musikverein and the Konzerthaus.

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra makes its home at the Musikverein, a neoclassical structure resembling a Greek temple, which was inaugurated in 1870. In addition to the Philharmonic, the Golden Hall in the Musikverein is also the main stage of the Vienna Mozart Orchestra.

Musikverein© WienTourismus/Christian Stempermax.
The Vienna Musikverein. © Vienna Tourism/Christian Stempermax.

The Vienna Mozart Orchestra, as evidenced by its name, has devoted itself to performing Mozart concerts in Vienna. The orchestra engages internationally renowned singers and soloists and performs in period costumes and wigs. They aim to celebrate the life and work of Mozart by creating a historic atmosphere wherever they play.

In addition to satisfying the most ardent fans of Mozart, the orchestra also performs some of the more famous pieces by the Strausses such as “The Blue Danube Waltz” and “The Radetzky March.”

The Musikverein’s Golden Hall is considered one of the finest and most traditional concert halls in the world because of its grand décor and unique acoustics. Apart from concerts by the Vienna Mozart Orchestra, it serves as the venue for the world-famous New Year’s Concert performed annually by the Philharmonic, with a heavy concentration on the works of both Strauss I and II.

The regular classical concert at the Musikverein features the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, or Schubert and is performed in the Brahms Hall.

From April to October, you can also combine a Musikverein concert with a three-course dinner in the Grand Hotel Vienna. Check here for dates and prices.

Konzerthaus

The Konzerthaus in Vienna was opened in 1913 to appeal to a broader audience than the traditional Musikverein. It was built in the art nouveau style and is home to the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, both dedicated to carrying on the Viennese classical tradition. The historic venue hosts the Vienna Spring Festival annually in April and May and the Internationale Musikfest in May and June.

Tip: You can watch the Vienna Hofburg Orchestra play in the Konzerthaus on many nights from May to October as well as on special dates like Christmas and New Year.

Check Vienna Hofburg Orchestra dates and availability.

Vienna State Opera

Originally known as the Vienna Court Opera, the Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) dates to the mid-19th  century. As a little girl growing up in South Africa, I dreamt about attending the Staatsoper (or any other classical concert in Vienna for that matter). The reason was a world-renowned South African opera singer called Mimi Coertse.

Auditorium at Vienna State Opera©WienTourismus/Paul Bauermax.
Vienna State Opera Auditorium. © Vienna Tourism/Paul Bauermax.

Coertse became a star after joining the Vienna State Opera in the 1950s. She was the youngest singer ever to be appointed to its permanent ensemble. She was so loved in Vienna, that the Austrian Government honoured her with the title “Kammersängerin”, the equivalent of a British Dame.

Vienna’s opera house is a neo-Renaissance building. Construction was completed in 1869 when it opened with a performance of the Mozart opera “Don Giovanni.”. The building suffered massive damage during World War II, and the opera was forced to stage rehearsals at the Theater an der Wien and performances at the nearby Volksoper following Austria’s liberation from the Nazis.

The opera house was rebuilt and restored to its original state after the war, in large part due to private donations and contributions from the citizenry of Vienna. During that period, the Wiener Mozart-Ensemble was formed and carried on the Viennese tradition of classic symphonic sound.

Today, the Staatsoper is one of the most famous opera houses in the world and is closely linked to the Vienna Philharmonic, whose members are selected from its orchestra. During performances, audiences can follow the action as subtitles are shown in eight languages at all seats and standing berths.

How To Get Vienna Opera House Tickets

Attendance at the Vienna State Opera is over 99%, which means there aren’t many last-minute tickets available. Standing tickets go on sale at knock-down prices 80 minutes before the performances begin. They are especially sought after by tourists who don’t have the luxury of securing seats in advance.

Vienna State Opera Standing tickets cost between €5 and €10. The standing-room box office is in Operngasse and opens 80 minutes before curtain time.

Fortunately, for those who don’t want to stand, the Wiener Staatsoper has a very user-friendly website from where you can buy opera tickets before arriving in the city. Prices range from €6 for seats with limited visibility up to €287 for the best seats in the house.

When you click on the button that says “Karten Kaufen” (don’t worry, there’s an English version of the website until you get to this point), you will see a seating plan with all the available seats for a specific date. This makes it very easy to select your seat and buy your ticket.

Foyer at Vienna State Opera©WienTourismus/Paul Bauermax.
Last-minute tickets are available in the foyer of the Vienna State Opera. ©Vienna Tourism/Paul Bauermax.

If you’re unable to buy your Vienna Opera House Tickets online in advance, the evening box office in the foyer and arcades of the opera building opens one hour before curtain.

Vienna Volksoper

The Vienna Volksoper (Vienna People’s Opera) is an important opera house that was built in 1898 for the initial purpose of staging plays. It has evolved into one of the premier places to experience the operas and operettas of Mozart and the Strauss dynasty.

Operas from the 18th to 21st centuries, as well as classic musicals and ballet, are performed in the Vienna Volksoper. The repertory theatre seats 1,337 people and stages around 300 performances of 32 different productions between September and June each year. English subtitles are provided for some German performances.

Kursalon 

The Kursalon is a music hall built in the Italian Renaissance style between 1865 and 1867. The first concert performed at the Kursalon was by Johann Strauss II, the son of “the king of the waltz,” and a gifted composer in his own right.

Today, the Salonorchester Alt Wien continues the Viennese classical tradition at the Kursalon, including a heavy emphasis on works by both Strauss and Mozart in its repertoire. The orchestra accompanies renowned opera singers and ballet dancers for an all-round classical music experience in Vienna.

The Kursalon concert is held almost every day. For a proper night out in one of Vienna’s grandest venues, you can even indulge in a 3-course dinner, sampling some of the finest Austrian food, before the concert begins. A combined ticket for the Kursalon concert and dinner is available.

Check availability for the Mozart and Strauss concert in Kursalon Vienna

Classical Music Concerts In Vienna’s Palaces

Hofburg

The Imperial Palace (Hofburg) is the former imperial residence of the Habsburg dynasty. It is now home to the Wiener Hofburg Orchester. The orchestra was founded over 30 years ago, and its mainstay is a program consisting of beloved works by both Strauss and Mozart. The orchestra comprises more than 40 world-class musicians accompanied by Vienna State Opera soloists. They sometimes perform in the Hofburg, but also at the Musikverein and other venues.

Check for Vienna Hofburg Orchestra concert dates

The Hofburg is the oldest of the Viennese Palaces. © Travel Tyrol.
The Hofburg or Imperial Palace Vienna.

Schönbrunn Palace Classical Concerts

It was at Schönbrunn Palace where Mozart the child prodigy jumped on Empress Maria Theresa’s lap and kissed her. In later years, he performed in the palace Orangerie.  And this is where you can still hear his music today, played by the Schönbrunn Palace Orchestra. The

The orchestra is accompanied by two opera singers and two ballet dancers.

Due to the popularity of the Schönbrunn Palace concerts, they are held almost daily. Apart from arias and duets from famous Mozart operas, you’ll also be carried away by Strauss Waltzes and Polkas.

Again, if you want the enjoyment to last longer, you can spend a romantic evening at Schönbrunn, comprising of a palace tour, dinner, and concert.

Palais Eschenbach

Apart from the big Viennese palaces, Vienna is home to many smaller “palaces” or grand homes. Called Palais, this is where the rich and noble stayed in times gone by. Today, many of them have been turned into hotels or conference and concert venues.

The Vienna Supreme Orchestra regularly plays compositions by Strauss, Mozart, and Schubert in the golden ballroom or large banquet hall of Palais Eschenbach.

Check Palais Eschenbach concert dates and availability.

Palais Auersberg

The Vienna Residence Orchestra, arguably one of the best chamber orchestras in the world, has made the Palais Auersberg their concert home. This baroque palace is steeped in history, especially musical history. Both Mozart and Haydn performed here in person.

Vienna Residence Orchestra concerts are held in Palais Auersberg very frequently (daily in summer). You can also look forward to classical singers and ballet dancers performing with the orchestra.

Palais Schönborn-Batthány

The beautiful Palais Schönborn-Batthyány is an architectural masterpiece. Inside, you’ll find one of Vienna’s finest concert halls where the Vienna Baroque Orchestra performs. You can opt for a stand-alone classical Viennese concert or a concert with dinner at Café Landtmann, one of Vienna’s finest cafés.

Classical Concerts In Vienna’s Churches

Vienna’s churches make great venues for classical concerts. Often, these concerts are also more affordable than those performed in grander venues.

Karlskirche – For a break from Mozart and Strauss, the Orchestra 1756 regularly performs Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in the Karlskirche. But if it’s Mozart you want, his Requiem can also be heard in this magnificent baroque church.

Karlskirche Vienna
Vivalid’s Four Seasons can be heard in the Karlskirche.

St Peter’s Church – The Classic Ensemble Vienna takes you on a musical tour of the works of Vivaldi, Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, to mention a few.

St Anne’s Church – The Viennese Spring Ensemble plays works representing all the Viennese classics in this 70-minute concert in the heart of the city.

7 Tips for attending classical music concerts in Vienna

  • Dress code – There is no strict dress code for attending classical concerts in Vienna. While you certainly won’t be chased away if you arrive in jeans and a t-shirt, it’s also true that dressing up just a little may contribute to a nicer sense of occasion. (Don’t worry, you won’t be the only one looking somewhat smarter. Many local concert goers do wear something a little more chic than their normal day attire.)
  • Arrive early – For some concerts, there are no seat numbers allocated within the different categories. That means the earlier you get there, the better your chance is to select a good seat within that specific category. Another reason to arrive early is that most venues are very strict when it comes to allowing people in after the concert has started. Your only hope is that there’s an intermission so that you can at least catch the second half.
  • Stay seated – Don’t get up from your seat before the concert has ended (or there is an intermission) unless you absolutely have to. If you’re like me, that may mean postponing pre-concert drinks to after the concert 😊.
  • Cloakrooms – You may not be allowed to take your jacket and/or bag into the concert hall. And yes, the chances are good that you’ll have to pay to hand it in at the cloakroom.
  • Cameras and mobile phones – It goes without saying that mobile phones must be switched off/put on silent. Furthermore, no photography is allowed.
  • Children – While Vienna is a great city to visit with kids, children under five years are generally not allowed in concert halls. Those older require their own ticket to attend classical music concerts in Vienna.
  • Applause – If you’re unsure when to clap, wait until the rest of the audience claps before you join in. Generally, there is applause when the musicians/conductor/concertmaster comes onto the stage and again only at the end of each piece of music (which may be broken up into several movements).
    Wiener Symphoniker’s orchestra concert in the Wiener Konzerthaus©WienTourismus/Peter Rigaudmax.
    Knowing when to clap, like these concert goers listening to the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in the Konzerthaus, is important. © Vienna Tourism/Peter Rigaudmax.

Vienna is a city whose place in the history of classical music is unmatched. Today, this history is kept alive through Vienna’s numerous concert halls and symphony orchestras, who place particular emphasis on the works of Mozart and Strauss, two of Austria’s greatest musical claims to fame. 

*Disclosure*

Dear Reader,

Having fun in Austria and neighbouring countries, and then writing about it, is hard work 😆 . That’s why some links in this article are affiliate links. I may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you use any of them to make a purchase for your upcoming trip. It’s totally cool if you don’t use them. I love to help anyway. But if you do, we’ll probably blow it on another family excursion. Which really isn’t such a bad thing, because it will only result in another blog post for you to read.

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Linda de Beer
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Name: Linda de Beer Profession: Travel blogger and freelance writer
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I have never been a big fan of classical concerts, but this seems so cozy and fancy I will have to give it a try