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What is a good place in Europe for live classical music ?

7 nights of music or festivals between now and the end of 2023. I grew up seeing Sir George Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Daniel Barenboim and then Ricardo Multi succeeded Solti here.

Posted by
8375 posts

For me, it was Budapest, but I haven't been in so long.

Posted by
7373 posts

Ok Vienna. I still need to get there. Is that classical music concert scene touristy?

Posted by
3768 posts

I still need to get there. Is that classical music concert scene touristy?

You havent lived until you attend a concert in The Vienna Musikverein , arguably one of the best concert halls in the world . Among my favorites there - Mahler 1 , 5 , 6

Posted by
5409 posts

Jazz, that sounds wonderful! I didn’t attend any classical music events in Budapest, so from my experience I would list Vienna first.

Not in the running for the best, but I am planning to attend a classical concert in Ljubljana when I’m there this year. I attended the Stresa (Italy) Music Festival and really enjoyed it!

My favorite to listen to or perform at home - Rachmaninov’s - Concerto for Piano No. 2 in C minor, Op 18 is on my iPad, so I can listen to it frequently. The performance I like the best is:
Simon Trpčeski - Piano
Vasily Petrenko - Conductor
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

BBC Proms
@ Royal Albert Hall, London

Posted by
14672 posts

With out being comparative, as that would require me having personal knowledge of half the cities of Europe:

Budapest only has a handful of venues, new and old world. What I have enjoyed most is that classical music and theater is still very much a part of the broad culture, so you aren't in tourist traps, you are participating in a cultural event.

And you have to decide why you are going.
Best orchestra?
Best acoustics?
Best cultural experience?
Best architecture (modern or older?)

If you google "Best concert halls" you will get different lists based on different criteria. I'm not an aficionado so I go for cultural experience and the halls in Odesa, Bucharest and Budapest fit that bill; and there are others, that's just the part of the world I hang out in.

Oh, and how much effort you want to put into it. If you are coming in jeans, go to London or Vienna.

And cost. For the best performance in town an entire box in Budapest may cost the same as a single seat in the orchestra section of another city. Again. About the experience you are looking for.

Anf going to X because of the acoustics and not bring interested in what is being performed makes less sense maybe.

Don't forget time of year. Many close in the summer.

I suggest you spend a lot of time shopping.

Posted by
4951 posts

Pretty sure the answer to your question is Vienna. Yes, there are the ridiculous costume’s performances for those who are uninspired, but the Opera and the Musikverein withe the Vienna Philharmonic cannot be touched anywhere else. Even the next tier, such as the Konzerthaus and Volksoper are better than anywhere else.

Posted by
4280 posts

First, a common mistake many Americans do in my opinion is to always try to find "the best", whether that is the best Pizza in Italy, the best hotel in Paris or the best city for classical music. There is many good options, but crowning one city as the best is difficult an ultimately depends on personal preference.

In general though, I'd say that two countries stand out, Germany and Austria. And if you ask me to point out three cities I'd probably say Berlin, Munich and Vienna. But, it also depends a lot on what kind of music you are looking for. When you say classical, does it have to be from the classical era? If so, Vienna might be hard to beat. There is after all a reason the era is called Viennese classical or something similar in many languages. But for Baroque music, Austria does not stand out as much in my opinion and I'd look closer at Germany. Leipzig e.g. has a great scene for Baroque music, but Berlin is also a good choice. So a bit more information might be useful.

Then there are of course other great cities in other countries as well. Don't underestimate Paris or Milan e.g.

Posted by
7373 posts

Ok Badger I updated the topic . Any period Baroque, Classical, Romantic and I know what I don't care for from the 20th century. I use to work at Tower Records and Virgin Megastore. And similarly the CSO season ends around June but we have a Grant Park Orchestra in Millennium Park in the summer here.

Posted by
9199 posts

Are you asking about week-long classical music festivals?

Posted by
887 posts

I was getting confused, reading the comments as the title was "a good place" but everyone was talking about "the best" but I see from the URL that there has been a title change.
I would add London into the mix.
I don't understand why everyone talks about going to the Theatre in London, but hardly anyone mentions Classical Music.
Just as one example, and it is only one, for anyone here during the Summer months I would contend that going to at least one or two promenade concerts (The Proms as everyone calls them) at the Royal Albert Hall. There is a huge range of world class musical music performed by world class orchestras.
But year round London has some fantastic music venues.
When I was working in London, but living in Southend, I did that several times a week, with the attendant long transfer back home afterwards. There were historical reasons why I hardly ever digged in London itself, but just stayed put in Southend more or less for almost 11 years.

Posted by
5409 posts

Since the title has been changed to “good”, I will also add another option. I enjoy attending classical ballets, also, which gives you both some beautiful music & the ballet to watch. Other than some small classical music venues in Salzburg, my first classical music experiences were in Moscow & Vienna attending ballets.

Posted by
3648 posts

Vienna, London, Paris, Milan, Venice come to mind. One of the the best things I ever did when I travelled to Vienna was buy a ticket to the “Le Nozze de Figaro” performed by the Wiener Staatsoper 5 months in advance of my trip. This was the opera being performed during my visit. I bought my ticket straight from their website (didn’t want to use a third-party online broker) and selected the very seat I wanted and paid a small fortune for it but to me, this was the essence of experiential travel and worth the price. I then listened to the opera continuously for five months, so I was familiar with every part of it and this made my experience at the beautiful opera house that much more meaningful. The orchestra was the Vienna Philharmonic itself!

Posted by
6189 posts

I would want to go to an important festival. You'll have to research dates and post-Covid existence. Of course, cities get crowded and expensive for these. And in summer, you have to consider outdoor performances that are amplified. But I remember when we went to simply regular season performances at the Vienna Staatsoper or the Bastille Opera, they sold out well in advance. Some that occur to me are:

Opera in Verona, Aix, Rome, and similar outdoor Roman arenas
Maggio [May] Musicale in Florence.
Summer festival in Ravello, Italy
Salzburg Festival
Used to be summer music at the Alhambra gardens
Venice (Art) Biennale sometimes has dance or music associated with it.
Snape Maltings/Britten-Pears festival in Aldeburgh (maybe 20th century and chamber music ... )
Several English, Welsh, and Irish festivals, especially opera

We finally got to the Proms in London, which are not exactly a cultural high point of the world, but you have to do it once. And the classical nights sell the slowest, I think. We settled for the Singapore Symphony or something like that, but they were fine.

Posted by
4903 posts

I went to hear the Berlin Philharmonic at the Berliner Philharmonie. It was an excellent concert in a very impressive concert hall.

Posted by
366 posts

Hands down Vienna. The amount and quality of musical opportunities there is unsurpassed. Chamber music, the opera, the orchestra, there are an amazing number of choices. Vienna is also a wonderful city to visit. Lay hands on Liszts piano. Look out a window as Beethoven once did.

I would choose Berlin as a second choice. In Berlin the orchestra and the theatre are quite wonderful. It's a completely different vibe than the more traditional Vienna, but not in a bad way.
Budapest would not be on my list. Having been there at least 20 times, I don't regard it to be the star destination that people somehow believe that it is.
I have also had the privilege of attending Solti performances in Chicago and Dohnányi's Ring Cycle in Cleveland. These orchestras set the bar quite high.

Posted by
3613 posts

This may be too touristy and commonplace music for your taste(Vivaldi 4 Seasons), but a concert at St Chapelle in Paris when sunlight is streaming through the stained glass is beautiful.

Posted by
3174 posts

This may or may not answer your question...last fall, we traveled around the LeMarche region of Italy and it seemed that many small towns (Fano, Fermo, and Ascoli Piceno as examples) have a beautiful theater with a performance season. At the time, I thought that it would be fun to plan a trip around performances in some of those beautiful, old, well-maintained venues.

On the past trips, we saw a performance of La Boehme in Riga, Latvia and a Beatles Musical Review in a beautiful small theater in Camogli, Italy. Many times, you can purchase tickets the day of.

For an upcoming trip, we have tickets for Romeo and Juliet in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and Madame Butterfly in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Just a reminder to always look for performances in cities on your itineraries - you might find some fun surprises.

Posted by
14672 posts

And Marsle, in those cities you are almost guaranteed a local and not a tourist experience. Sofia, Lviv, Odesa, Bucharest ... all exceptional where the venues exist solely fir the cultural taste of the locals.

Posted by
12074 posts

Anything in Austria. The street musicians are amazing, professionals are among the elite on their instruments.

I believe Austrian kids attend both regular school and music school. Maybe someone from Austria knows more?

Posted by
2052 posts

Definitely Vienna but I would add London’s St. Martin in the Field.

Posted by
4951 posts

I believe Austrian kids attend both regular school and music school.
Maybe someone from Austria knows more?

Umm, no, that is not true.