When it comes to the more sophisticated end of the music spectrum, Vienna tends to be associated with older eras. It’s sort of inevitable when denizens of the city included Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, and Beethoven.
The Wien Modern festival belies that impression by showcasing the work of more contemporary composers.
- Annual 30+ day contemporary music festival
- Dozens of premieres & prestigious international performers
- 2023 dates: TBA (normally all of November)
- See also:
What’s Wien Modern?
(Scene from the excellent Blackboxed Voices, which I saw in 2022; press photo © Tobias Leibetseder)
Put away the period costume and your plastic Mozart figurine. We’re talking more John Cage than Johann Strauss in a celebration of contemporary music that also draws in the visual arts.
First established back in 1988 by Claudio Abbado, Wien Modern sits at the interface between tradition and innovation, the past and the future. At least that’s my impression.
About a month’s worth of concerts and other events gently nudge aside the conventional music scene to give voice to more avant-garde approaches, fearlessly incorporating electronic music, dance, and similar to pronounce classical music as an ongoing process.
In 2022, for example, I attended Martina Claussen’s Blackboxed Voices – I am Here: an acousmatic soundscape with integrated interpretive dance, lighting, and screen projections.
The result was a remarkable and absorbing multidimensional experience…made all the better by allowing the audience to wander freely through the auditorium (a columned hall from the late 19th-century).
As well as featuring the work of some of the best contemporary composers the world has to offer, Wien Modern usually also features some of the best performers, such as the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
Numerous venues participate. These typically run the gamut from classical favourites, like the Konzerthaus and Musikverein, to art-flavoured coffee houses, like Café Korb, and more unexpected locations, such as the Ruprechtskirche church or Kunsthistorisches Museum.
2023 dates and tickets
Wien Modern normally takes up all of November and ran from October 29th to November 30th in 2022. I don’t have precise 2023 dates yet, so watch this space or check the official website for details and a full schedule of events and locations (once available).
The official website is also the place to find information on tickets and festival passes, though some events may be free.