No wonder William Wordsworth was mesmerized by the melancholic strain of the solitary reaper in the Scottish highlands that he didn’t understand but contemplated deep in his heart. That’s the beauty of music! The evolution of certain genres of music has been endemic to a place. However, very few places or cultural centers are actually able to hold on to the legacy. The old schools with their efficient masters and platforms to perform have kept the musicians going for centuries now.
Lately, there has been a global boost in Music Tourism. The idea of travelling to a place just for a music festival has been catching up with the millennials. Summerfest, the largest music festival in the world is an 11-day event in Wisconsin, the USA that sees over 1 million footfall every year. However, in this article, I would talk only about Europe and save the USA for another blog post.
Here is a list of 5 places all music lovers should visit in Europe at least once.
If you are a classical music connoisseur, you should have the ‘Music Tour of Vienna‘ in your bucket list. The Mozart House and ‘The Beethoven House’ are a testimony of the great musical history that Vienna boasts of. True to the legacy of the concert halls, musicians like Mozart Beethoven, Brahms, Wolfgang Amadeus, Joseph Gilles and the master violinist Antonio Vivaldi who still holds a place in the heart of music lovers, spent a considerable fraction of their lifetime in Vienna. If you are keen to spend a romantic evening with your partner, you should add ‘Wiener Konzerthaus’, ‘Theater an der Wien’ and ‘Stephansdam’ to your itinerary.
2. Ghent, Belgium
If you keen to experience Opera music that tantalizes your soul, this is one of the best places for you.
Ghent, a city full of culture, arts and events, offers a unique combination of a celebrated past and a lively present.
With its university and several institutes for higher education, Ghent is an educational hub where approximately 12% of the city’s students are following culture oriented training. Ghent is also a regional economic hub in which the cultural and creative sector accounts for 4% of total employment.
Ghent is internationally known for its dynamic music scene and its many music festivals including the Festival of the Flanders, offering a range of concerts from classical to world music; the Ghent International Film Festival focusing on the impact of music on film; the open-air festival Gent Jazz, which is top in its genre; and Glimps, an international showcase festival for pop and rock music.
The use of historical venues as unique locations for concerts is another asset of Ghent’s vibrant music life. Among the most notable sites are the Ghent Opera House dating back to the 19th century, the Bijloke Concert Hall which is located in a medieval hospital ward, and the HA Concert Hall, situated in a former stock exchange.
A broad range of initiatives in music education characterizes the city’s daily life. In addition to music classes on drums or classical guitar, the municipal intercultural centre De Centrale also offers lessons in lesser known instruments such as Qanoen, Saz and Oed. The Ghent-based International Opera Academy and the Orpheus Institute both offer unique post-graduate training programmes in their respective disciplines.
3. Bologna, Italy
The rich cultural and musical legacy of this Italian city was recognized by UNESCO when it declared it ‘City of Music’ in 2007. If you are in Bologna, don’t forget to frequent wine bars with live music. The city houses the International Museum and Library Of Music. The legends like Rossini and Verdi have performed in the Opera House and ‘The Teatro Comunale’. If you have a knack for conventional music, you should visit the city during ‘Robot Festival’. Held in Autumn every year, hundreds of artists showcase their talent in electronic music and digital art during the feat.
4. Paris, France
With the invention of phonograph, the French have always created havoc in the world with their melodious recorded voices. The city of great chanteurs and chanteuses like Sacha Distel and Charles Aznavour, Paris is the cradle of cabaret and jazz music. You can drink and dance to the tunes of excellent jazz musicians in the clubs. You can schedule a visit to ‘Paris Opera’ and ‘Paris Conservatory’. Music is an integral part of the Parisian churches. The grandiloquent Cathedral Notre Dame houses a famous organ dating back to 18th century, that echoes the glory of God during prayers. One can also easily spot musicians in public places well versed in rock, rap, Bal-musette and hip-hop style songs.
5. Milan, Italy
For all the Opera buffs and EDM lovers out there, you have to visit Milan once to immerse in the live music played in the various concert halls and public places. Opera and Italian nightlife are inseparable like cheese and wine. If you are heading to Milan, don’t forget to add ‘Teatro alla Scala’ and ‘Auditorium di Milano’ to your itinerary. La Scala Milan …more descriptive
6. Glasgow, Scotland
Of course Glasgow would be home to the World Pipe (as in bagpipe) Band competition and the highly coveted winner’s trophy. But Glasgow is far more than that – it is an Old World city with a rich history filled with creative arts. Music is one of its most notable. For almost a century, St. Andrew’s Hall was one of the most celebrated musical venues in Europe. It was burned to the ground in 1962 by a careless smoker at a boxing match, but its reputation for musical excellence sustains to this day. With UNESCO as partner, Scottish musical enthusiasts have written a book, Dear Green Sounds that tells the musical history of Glasgow through its historic venues as a walking tour. From the classical offerings at St. Andrew, to perhaps less refined though no less memorable concerts from Frank Sinatra to Freddie Mercury. It is one of those places in which music is ingrained. Classical fans still lament the loss of St. Andrew’s, but it has kept up with time and fashion.
7. Katowice, Poland
Katowice is the capital of the Upper Silesian Region in Southwestern Poland. Deeply marked by the industrial age, Katowice has been investing in culture and creativity to revitalize and regenerate, summarizing its vision by the motto “from heavy industry to creative industries”. This city of 310,000 inhabitants contributes 45 million euros each year in the form of grants to foster the creative economy, predominately focusing on the renovation of cultural spaces largely dedicated to the music sector, which today truly fuels the socio-economic development of the city.
Often considered underground and subversive, with a long tradition of amateur choirs and orchestras, music in Katowice testifies of a rich diversity of genres, from classical to rock, jazz, baroque, electronic and rap. Among the 27 music festivals that liven up the city’s cultural life, three major and world-renowned events – OFF, Tauron and Rawa – annually add around 2.7 million euros to the city’s local economy. Katowice is also recognized across the country as a centre of comprehensive music education. The city is notably home to the Karol Szymanowski Academy, which founded the first Department of Jazz music in Poland.
The Municipality is committed to further nurture cultural and creative industries as levers for the city’s urban renewal and sustainability, especially through its five-year Cultural Zone programme, which is the largest investment in cultural infrastructures in Poland to date. The main achievement of this programme is the establishment of the headquarters of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) and the Silesian Museum on ancient mine sites. Katowice proves that investing in creativity can transform a once-industrial district into a vibrant creative city.
8. Norrkoping. Sweden
Often referred to as the Manchester of Sweden, Norrköping (pop. 140,000) bears witness to a rich and diverse musical scene covering genres from classical and electronic to new and modern music. It is home to the Arbisteatern (Arbis Theatre), the country’s oldest amateur theatre stage and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. Founded in 1912, the Orchestra is one of the most renowned in Scandinavia, consisting of 85 musicians and, in previous years, hosting many distinguished conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, Okko Kamu and Franz Welser- Möst. The city possesses a heavy-set musical education system and an industry represented by 500 musicians and 300 established music enterprises, generating an annual turnover of US$28.9 million.
At the core of the city’s cultural life, music events are celebrated year-round. ‘Where’s the music?’ (WTM) is a platform for new music – part music festival, part music conference – showcasing a hundred artists, as well as gathering music industry stakeholders to discuss current trends in the sector. The Bråvalla Airfield pop-rock festival is one of Sweden’s largest events, having previously headlined internationally renowned artists and bands such as Kanye West, Kings of Leon and Muse. It is a socially responsible and environmental-friendly event which attracts an average audience of 50,000.
The Musikhuvudstaden programme, framed by the Trade and Industry Department and Vision 2035, provides the current policy guidelines to make cultural and creative industries part of Norrköping’s urban development. The first initiative to be undertaken will be to renovate the old concert hall Hörsalen into a music hub for young artists and students. The programme also finds in music an important lever for social inclusion and has supported the migrant community with employment opportunities within the sector.
9. Seville, Spain
Another European capital with sites galore for music lovers, Prague was where Mozart’s Don Giovanni and La clemenza di Tito were premiered in the 18th century at the historic Estates Theatre. The Czech Symphony Orchestra is based at the magnificent Rudolfinum, where the Prague Spring International Music Festival is held focusing on classical and chamber music. There’s also a major jazz festival that’s been held each year since 1964, welcoming the likes of Dave Brubeck, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman. And check out the Dvorak Museum for information on the Czech Republic’s finest composer.
11. Mannheim, Germany
Love Parade was a popular EDM festival in West Berlin which has been discontinued since 2010. In July 2010, 21 people died in a stampede during the Parade, after which the organizers permanently called it off. If you are a music lover with an eclectic taste in world music, you should definitely visit these cities once in your lifetime.