A house of music in the city of music: Vienna’s Haus der Musik is a rather unique experience, like a cross between a musical history museum and a hommage to Stanley Kubrick.
- Presents Vienna’s great composers and musical institutions
- Also tackles the wider concept of “sound” with futuristic displays
- Full of interactive exhibits and activities (good for kids, too)
- All information is in German and English
- Standard adult tickets are €14* or get free entry with a Vienna Pass
- See also: Composer trails | Mozarthaus
The House of Music
The museum takes you on two journeys.
The first sends you through the musical history of Vienna.
One floor, for example, presents the story of two great Viennese institutions: the Staatsoper and the Wiener Philharmoniker orchestra (whose founder lived in this very house).
Another floor dedicates a room to each of the famous composers associated with the city, including Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Strauss and Mahler. Quite a lineup, no?
The second journey examines the concept of sound in all its facets, with a range of interactive experiences.
One floor, for example, is almost futuristic in design, exploring the meaning, science, and creation of sounds in a series of audiovisual and VR environments.
So what caught my eye (and ear)?
(A portrait of Gustav Mahler, one of the composers featured at the Haus der Musik. Photo courtesy of the Rijksmuseum)
If you like musical memorabilia, prepare for a feast.
The Haus der Musik’s composer rooms feature instruments from the time and (copies of) original sheet music. But it’s the personal items belonging to conductors and musical geniuses that truly build the historical connection. For example:
- Batons belonging to Richard Strauss, Herbert von Karajan, and others (some batons clearly wielded with dramatic emphasis, going by the damage)
- Gustav Mahler’s travel cap
- Brahms’ reading glasses and ink pen – imagine what notes must have tumbled out of its nib
- Talking of glasses, how about a pair of Schubert’s and a pair belonging to Strauss?
- The conductor’s score for the Marriage of Figaro, including Mahler’s handwritten annotations
- The actual entrance door to Beethoven’s last home
- A fascinating copy of the title page to the manuscript copy of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony (Eroica). He crossed out the original dedication to Napoleon with some vehemence
Some of the Haus der Musik’s interactive elements are particularly enjoyable. For example:
- Create your own unique waltz by rolling four virtual dice four times each
- One set of stairs in the house doubles as a piano, where each step plays a note. You can’t help but try it out
- Conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra virtually. Great fun, unless you have an audience waiting expectantly for your virtuoso performance (the pressure)
- Create your own soundscape from an astonishing range of adjustable sounds from the environment, space, the human body, and more (I lost a lot of time playing with this)
- Let Mozart put your name to music (really – he defined musical associations with each letter of the alphabet)
- Control an audiovisual operatic artwork with your body movements. A few moments into this, and you’re moving around like some avant-garde performer at an off-Broadway dance production. Or maybe that was just me
And sound is everywhere in the Haus der Musik, whether the strange beats a baby might hear while still in the womb, or the famous compositions of those giants of classical music.
Tickets & visitor tips
Some things to note:
- The Haus der Musik also hosts various concerts, including evenings of Mozart, Strauss and more from the Imperial Classic Orchestra*
- All information displays, exhibit labels, screen text etc. is in both German and English
- There’s a free cloakroom for bags and coats (but you can make a voluntary donation). The staff were remarkably friendly and helpful, too
- The Haus der Musik shop is large and full of delights. As well as the expected (CDs, DVDs, books, etc.), be prepared for some outrageous musical ties and a whole range of music boxes that play everything from Puccini arias to the theme tune to Dr Zhivago
- Some of the popular interactive elements are, well, popular. So during busy seasons, you may have to wait to wave your baton at the first violin of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
How to get to the Haus der Musik
The Haus der Musik is very central, not far from the common tourist routes.
Subway: just a short walk from Karlsplatz station (U1, U2 and U4 lines – look for the Oper exits), Stadtpark (U4) and Stephansplatz (U1 and U3).
Tram/bus: take trams 2, 71 or D around the Ring to Schwarzenbergplatz, then simply walk down Schwarzenbergstraße. Or bus 2A to Schwarzenbergplatz or Kärntner Straße
Address: Seilerstätte 30, 1010 Vienna | Website