Events, Festivals

The highly subsidised State Opera and Volksoper are governed by a separate federal law. Equally, there are publicly-funded opera houses and music stages in the capitals of Austria’s federal states (see chapter on Performing Arts). In addition, there is a subsidised orchestra scene. The large  classical music festivals are also closely connected to the public sector. There is for instance, a separate law governing the Salzburg Festival. In all these areas, conservative music forms prevail, contemporary music – from a budgetary perspective – is created and performed only on a small scale, although it is part and parcel of the mission statement of both the Federal Theatres Holding company and the Salzburg Festival.

In the field of pop/rock/electronic, the Pop Festival Vienna, founded by the City of Vienna, has meanwhile established itself as a platform for exclusively Austrian musicians and bands. The programmes of the poolbar and Dynamo Festival  in Dornbirn, the Waves Vienna Festival, the Stuck Festival in Salzburg, the C ́est la Mü in Oslip, the Elevate Festival in Graz, the Ottensheim Open Air in Upper Austria also feature a high share of Austrian performers. And the line-ups of the major festivals (such as Frequency, Nova Rock, Urban Art Forms, Danube Island Festival) frequently feature the names of Austrian acts. 

Apart from the leading jazz festivals such as Jazz Festival Vienna or Jazzfest Saalfelden and the Stadtfestival Jazz & The City Salzburg, it is  the small scale festival initiatives which are the major venues for presenting local artists, (e.a. Artacts, Unlimited, Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon, Inntöne, Nickolsdorfer Konfrontationen).  Vienna’s jazz club “Porgy & Bess” is one of Europe’s best known addresses and also promotes a broad line-up of local artists, for example with the “Stageband” format. There is quite a list of clubs in Austria regularly presenting local bands. The younger generation has gained visibility partly through label platforms (Freifeld Records, Listen Closely, Session Work Record, Laub Record, Fraufeld). Musician initiated festivals have an important function for visibility and scene development (Session Work Festival, VN:M Festival, Hoert, Hoert, Jazzwerkstatt Festival).

Austria’s World Music scene has in the last 10 – 20 years, been internationally firmly ankered with Glatt & Verkehrt, Musikfest Waidhofen, Akkordeon Festival, Wean Hean, Salam Orient, Wellenklänge, hiesige & dosige, Kasumama Afrika Festival, Schrammel Klang Festival, and many more. The club landscape covers longer established venues such as the Sargfabrik Wien and small cultural initiatives throughout the country dedicated to new local and European playing forms.

One of the internationally most renowned festivals in the area of contemporary music/New Music is Wien Modern. Others include the musikprotokoll in the framework of Steirischer Herbst, Klangspuren Schwaz, Salzburger aspekte, Bregenzer Tage der Neuen Musik and the Tage der Neuen Musik in Lower Austria.

Aside from festivals, contemporary genres have also found a place in concert halls, first and foremost the Vienna Konzerthaus. There are a large number of dedicated organisers for many contemporary genres. Compared to its size, Austria has an above-average number of clubs and event venues (mainly in the big cities). 

Some 617 live music events daily are hosted in Austria, approx. 10% of which are attributed to mainly classical music.10

Info site

  • How to organise a concert yourself
  • Organisers, booking agencies and taxes 
  • Event and festival venues in Austria

10 Harald Huber, Austrian Report on Musical Diversity. Österreichischer Bericht zur musikalischen Vielfalt 2000-2010, mdw 2012, p9