One of Vienna's music halls

Sightseeing Sonata: Discover Europe's Most Musical Cities

21 Sep 2016

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There’s something about drifting down the iconic waterways of Europe that begs the romance of a classical soundtrack. Maybe it’s the slow rhythm of the rivers, the bucolic beauty of the countrysides or the grand artistry of timeworn cityscapes. Or maybe there’s just something in the air.

Whatever the combination may be, this magical region has managed to inspire some of the great musical masterpieces of our time, and setting adrift on a river cruise puts you in perfect position to live the notes of composers past in these, the most musical cities of Europe.


One of Vienna's music halls
Photo: Getty


Vienna is considered by many to be the home of classical music. This Austrian capital has a former resident list that reads like a who’s who of powdered wigs and musical genius. Mozart, Beethoven, Handel and Schubert (to name a few) once lived, studied and worked here. So important is classical music to this city, you can still hear the powerful progressions of some of the most famous works in history. Regular outdoor performances in parks offer a jubilant soundtrack to your journey through the city, but don’t forget to make time to see some of the historic concert halls. Aside from being exceptional architectural monuments, the Wiener Konzerthaus, Theater an der Wien, Weiner Musikverein and the Staatsoper all host regular performance schedules.  


Inside St Thomas Church
Photo: Getty


Another ‘power-haus' on the classical music front, Leipzig was once the home of none other than Johann Sebastian Bach. The famed composer resided in this historic German city from 1723 to 1750 and directed the St Thomas Choir – now considered to be one of the oldest and finest boys’ choirs in the world. Wagner and Mahler also spent a considerable amount of time working in Leipzig, further bolstering its classical musical credentials. The city continues to call to musically-inclined creatives across the world. Be it to take up residence or simply tour the incredibly rich history found here. When in the city, a concert at St Thomas Church or Gewandhaus Leipzig is well worth considering, or get to the Museum of Musical Instruments of Leipzig University to see its fantastic collection.


City view of Bologna
Photo: Getty


Named a UNESCO ‘City of Music’ in 2006, Bologna’s affinity for music stretches from classical to blues jazz. The University of Bologna (the oldest university in the world) was the first to offer degrees in music, and the city prides itself on utilising music, past and present, in its overall social and economic development. Oh yeah, and it was once home to Gioachino Rossini (The Barber of Seville, anyone?) and Giuseppe Verdi (how about Aida?). As you might expect from this Italian destination, opera plays a large part in the city’s history, which can still be enjoyed at the Teatro Communal di Bologna. This incredible opera house once held premiers for both Rossini and Verdi and is one of the most important venues in the country. Even if opera isn’t your cup of tea, check out the International Museum and Library of Music or any of Bologna’s diverse festivals.


The front of the National Academy of Music in Paris
Photo: Getty


It’s hard to picture Paris and not hear the distant reedy trill of bal-musette accordions somewhere in the back of your mind. The City of Love is all about music, whether it’s the works of composers like Debussy and Chopin or the poetic lyrics of Edith Piaf. And, from the Moulin Rouge to the Opera Garnier, there is no shortage of venues to partake in Paris’s rich musical history. For those that love classical concertos, the Salle Pleyel is home to the Orchestra de Paris, while the Opera Royal de Versailles is the home of baroque. The latter also happens to be one of the most beautiful venues in France. If you’re ears are after something more contemporary, Paris’s vibrant jazz clubs are sure to seduce your musical soul, while providing a night out that won’t soon be forgotten. If you’re lucky enough to be in the city on the 21st of June, the Fete de la Musique sees hundreds of performers take to the streets to share their talents on every corner and balcony in the city!  

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A view of one of Prague's music halls
Photo: Getty


It may come as somewhat of a surprise to see Prague on the list, but this European capital is well known among melomaniacs for its musical ties. In fact, Mozart’s Symphony No 38 in D major and Don Giovanni premiered in Prague. The latter was held at the historic Estates Theatre, which still hosts a regular schedule of operas for your musical enjoyment. The Golden City is home to the amazingly beautiful Rudolfinum, where the Czech Symphony Orchestra performs, as well as the Prague Spring International Music Festival. Known as one of the largest and most prestigious showcases of international performing artists, orchestras and ensembles, this festival is held every May, delighting visitors and locals alike with classical and chamber music performances.         

Experience Europe's musical capitals from a luxury river cruiseBook before 31st October and recieve a complimentary set of BOSE® QuietComfort® 35 Acoustic noise cancelling® wireless headphones valued at $499*. Chat to your Travel Associates Consultant to find out more!

*Conditions apply

Carlie Tucker

Travelling is for discovering the unexpected. From fantastic meals in ramshackle joints to stumbling upon a best kept secret, I love those fortuitous travel moments that couldn't be planned if I tried.