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 planet’s best concert hall
- First concert held on January 6th, 1870
- Attracts the best classical performers
- Venue for the Vienna Mozart Orchestra
- See also:
- Find a Mozart/Strauss concert* for your chosen date
History and prestige
(Front entrance with the Karlskirche behind)
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.
People also use the term 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 late 19th century, it used land freed up by the removal of the obsolete 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.
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. I once walked past to discover the great cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, about to perform (sold out, of course).
The Musikverein also provides a home for perhaps the globe’s finest orchestra (the Wiener Philharmoniker or Vienna Philharmonic) and perhaps the world’s most-watched classical music event (the New Year’s Concert).
(Façade above the main entrance)
For a lighter dip into Viennese classical music, the location acts as a regular host for the Vienna Mozart Orchestra, who put 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.
A shop around the back of the Musikverein 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.
Tickets & visitor tips
For the full, broader programme at the venue, the official website (see below) has all the details of forthcoming concerts at one of the seven halls within. You can buy tickets online from them, too.
A few tips:
- If you’re searching for light Mozart / Strauss concerts designed for visitors, try these venues.
- If you want to buy from the Musikverein in person, 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.
- Should you simply wish to see inside this historical venue, the Musikverein offers behind-the-scenes tours in English on most days. See here for my experiences on the tour.
In the area…
(Look out for Johannes)
By the way, the building next door – the Künstlerhaus – might be worth your time, too, given it houses the Albertina Modern art museum with its series of special exhibitions.
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