It’s probably inappropriate for a philistine like me to make any kind of comment about the Musikverein.
In golf, it would be Augusta. In football, Anfield. In art, the Louvre.
- Possibly the best concert hall on the planet
- First concert there was on January 6th, 1870
- Hosts primarily classical concerts featuring the world’s greatest performers
- Also a common venue for Vienna Mozart Orchestra concerts
- See also:
History and prestige
The Musikverein is actually the name used for the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien, which translates roughly as the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna. The term is also used for their concert hall, technically the Musikvereinsgebäude or Musikverein Building.
The venue opened officially on January 5th, 1870. Like so many great constructions of the time, it used land freed up by the removal of the city fortifications.
A first concert took place a day later and featured, for example, Beethoven’s Egmont overture and his symphony number 5.
The society itself dates back to 1812, once putting on Handel’s Samson for delegates to the Congress of Vienna in 1814, when Europe’s great powers decided on the future of the continent.
Beethoven, Liszt, Bernstein and Abbado, to name but a few, were honorary members, and Salieri the first director of its singing school (now the famous University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna). So, yes, the society has a rich tradition and history.
As for the venue, well, Strauss, Bruckner, and Mahler premiered compositions here, for example. Schoenberg directed here. Brahms worked here. When I last walked past, the great cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, was about to perform (sold out, of course).
The Musikverein also provides a home for the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic), perhaps the world’s finest orchestra, and the venue hosts the New Year’s Concert, perhaps the world’s most-watched classical music event.
A shop around the back even sells pianos. Not just any pianos, but Bösendorfer – suppliers to the Imperial royal court and in business since 1828. Brahms, Strauss, and Mahler were fans, apparently. Not bad in terms of celebrity endorsements.
Basically, the Musikverein is classical concert heaven. Look at any list of the world’s greatest concert halls and it’s invariably at the top.
For a lighter dip into Viennese classical music, the location also acts as a main venue for the Vienna Mozart Orchestra, which puts on tourist-friendly concerts featuring Mozart’s musical highlights and a bit of Strauss thrown in for good measure. The performers all appear in historical costumes!
Tickets & visitor tips
The Mozart Orchestra concerts take place in the Musikverein’s Golden Hall or Brahms Hall (note that they shift to the – also impressive – State Opera House on August 17th, 19th and 20th).
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
For the full, broader programme at the venue, the official website has all the details of forthcoming concerts at one of the seven halls within.
You can buy tickets online from them, too: use their event search filter to limit the results to those concerts where online tickets are still available.
If you want to buy in person, note that you don’t access the ticket office through the main entrance. If you’re facing that entrance, go left around the side of the building.
If you wish to simply see inside, the Musikverein offers behind-the-scenes tours in English on most days. See here for my experiences on the tour.
By the way, the building next door – the Künstlerhaus – might be worth your time, too, given it houses the Albertina Modern art museum. And to see what the Musikverein looks like from above, pop across to the Karlskirche church and use the panorama lift.
How to get to the Musikverein
The building is very central and easily reached by taxi or public transport.
Subway: The Karlsplatz station is almost opposite, and accessed via subway lines U1, U2 and U4.
Tram/bus: It’s just a short walk from the Oper/Karlsplatz stop on various tram services, including the 1, 2, 62, 71 and D lines. The 59A bus stops here, too.
Address: Musikvereinsplatz 1, 1010 Vienna | Website