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 laender (see chapter on Performing Arts). In addition, there is a subsidised orchestra scene. The large festivals of classical music as well are closely connected to the public sector, there is, for instance a separate law governing the Salzburg Festival. In all these areas, conservative forms of music prevail, contemporary music – from a budgetary perspective – is created and performed only at a small scale, although defined in the mission of 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 Festival in Dornbirn, the Waves Vienna Festival, the Stuck Festival in Salzburg, 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 festivals such as Jazz Festival Vienna or Jazz Festival Saalfelden, it is mainly the many small-scale initiatives (e.g. Chili Jazz, Unlimited, Wellenklänge, Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon, Nickelsdorfer Konfrontationen) which are the major venues for the local jazz scene. The Vienna jazz club Porgy & Bess is one of Europe’s most widely acclaimed jazz clubs. In addition to many national formations, leading American jazz artists who mostly perform with local bands play at Jazzland Vienna, while Miles Smiles frequently hosts unexpected musical gems in a living-room atmosphere. In addition, new jazz venues such as Zwe on the Danube canal, which hosts regular jam sessions, have established themselves. Jazzwerkstatt Vienna provides a stage for the young generation of jazz musicians.

In recent years, the world music scene has developed a large number of festivals, such as Glatt & Verkehrt, KlezMORE Festival, Wean Hean, Salam.Orient, Wien im Rosenstolz series at Theater am Spittelberg in Vienna, hiesige & dosige, Kasumama Afrika Festival, Schrammel.Klang.Festival and many more.

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.

Outside the festivals, contemporary genres have also established themselves in the concert halls, first and foremost the Vienna Konzerthaus. Moreover, there is a large number of dedicated organisers for many contemporary genres. Compared to its size, Austria has an above-average number of venues for events and clubs (mainly in the big cities). 

Every day, some 617 live music events are hosted in Austria, approx. 10% of which are attributable to serious music, 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