“A bit of music in the garden” takes on another dimension in the Viennese summer. The “music” is a live performance by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; the “garden” is the landscaped park of Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Welcome to the annual Summer Night Concert.
- Free, open-air Sommernachtskonzert in the palace grounds
- Classical music programme with a world-class conductor and soloist(s)
- 2020 date: Sept 18 (but not open to the general public this year)
- See also: Classical concerts in Vienna | The Festival of Joy
Vienna has a habit of throwing up beautiful settings for unique events. The Summer Night C
Each year, the Wiener Philharmoniker gives a free open-air performance in the Schönbrunn Palace gardens.
Picture a huge stage standing among sculpted flower beds and lawns, a golden Imperial palace on one side, the majestic Neptune fountain on the other. Then add lights, fireworks and, most importantly, one of the world’s greatest orchestras. That’s the Summer Night C
The tradition began in 2004 as a “concert for Europe”, conducted by none other than Bobby McFerrin, and has since gone global: the event is broadcast around the world.
The programme usually features more accessible classical pieces, with the occasional surprise: perhaps my favourite moment was a rendition of the Imperial March from Star Wars (better known as the Darth Vader music).
Originally scheduled for May, the organisers postponed the concert to September following the Coronavirus situation.
The planned theme will be “Liebe” and German tenor and global opera star, Jonas Kaufmann, will sing. Last year, he released an album of Viennese songs and scenes from operettas by the likes of Johann Strauss (in cooperation with the Wiener Philharmoniker).
The conductor is Valery Gergiev, music director of the Munich Philharmonic (among other activities). he first conducted the Wiener Philharmoniker back in 1997 at the Salzburger Festspiele.
Here’s a look back at 2019:
The programme ran under the title “Rhapsody in Blue”, with Johann Strauss and Anton Dvorak rubbing shoulders with the likes of Leonard Bernstein and Max Steiner.
Gustavo Dudamel led the concert. The Venezuelan conductor is no stranger to the Philharmonic, having toured with them throughout North and South America in 2018. He also wielded the baton at the 2017 New Year’s Concert:
The soloist on George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” was
Wang also give a cycle of concerts at the Konzerthaus across the first half of 2019. Nor is Wang unfamiliar with the orchestra and palace settings, having performed with the Vienna Philharmonic at Versailles in late 2018.
2020 dates and tickets
The 2020 Summer Night Concert is planned for Friday, September 18th.
Unfortunately, given the current situation, the size of the audience is strictly limited this year, so there is no public access (but you can watch on TV).
In normal years, the concerts typically begin at 8.30pm. You would need to get there much earlier, of course, because entry is always free and requires no ticket, with admission on a first come – first served basis.
The park gates close once the park reaches full capacity, plus the earlier you arrive, the better view you’ll get.
How to get to the concert
Directions for the palace are here. Access to the concert site for able-bodied non-VIP visitors is only from the northeast and northwest ends of the park, via the so-called Meidlinger and Hietzinger gates.
If using public transport, take the U4 subway line to either Schönbrunn station (close to the Meidlinger gate entrance) or Hietzing station (close to the, um, Hietzinger gate entrance). This subway line gets busy, though, so check the link above for alternatives.
Address: Schloß Schönbrunn, 1130 Vienna | Website