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Sound of Music: Vienna’s classical history

February 18, 2015 3:41 pm by

Vienna is undisputedly one of the world capitals of music as it was the birthplace of the waltz as the city that nurtured some of the most famous composers of all time; Wagner, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Strauss and Haydn – to name a few – who all have roots in Vienna. Their musical influence is all over this cultural capital and you can barely turn a corner without seeing a plaque, monument or even museum dedicated to a famous classical musician.

Whether you’re clued up in the music department or not, Vienna’s classical music scene has to be appreciated during your visit. Vienna is home to some great historic attractions so we thought we’d highlight our favourite five composers and some of the music-related sights and museums you can visit for free in Vienna:


Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most recognised names in the world across all nations. Thanks to his musical family – his father was his first piano teacher – Beethoven rose to fame at aged just seven, rivalling Mozart one year his junior. Originally from Bonn, it wasn’t until his later years when Beethoven was an established pianist and composer that he moved to Vienna where he lived and worked for eight years in an apartment-turned-museum, now dedicated to his life and works, before moving to Heiligenstadt where he spent his final years.

Visitors can go to Beethoven Pasqualati House for free with the Vienna PASS to learn more about this famous composer and see where Beethoven composed his 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th symphonies and Fidelio opera.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) was a child prodigy who rose to fame at the tender age of five when he was already composing his own music and performing in front of European royalty. Did you know that the Mirror Room at Schönbrunn Palace was where Mozart gave his first performance to Empress Maria Theresa? Mozart composed over 600 works during his time, and lived in Vienna for some of most productive years.

Here you can visit the Mozart House, a museum dedicated to his works and influence over classical music as we know it today. The museum itself is one of Mozart’s former apartments, just off St Stephen’s Square, and is one of the most popular attractions in Vienna.


Some say Strauss invented the Viennese Waltz. He was classically a composer of light, dance and operetta music and composed the unofficial national anthem, the Danube Waltz. From a family of composers, his two brothers were also composers of the same genre but never garnered as much success as their sibling. Although his father never believed that he should be a musician, and even tried to beat it out of him as a young boy, he defied authority and became one of Vienna’s most revered composers.

The Vienna PASS includes free entry to the Johann Strauss Apartment where he lived for seven years – and in which he composed the Blue Danube Waltz. Take a sneak peek at his life in the 19th century and learn a little about Strauss’ mischievous and playful side.


Schubert was the only composer out of these famous five to have been born and have died in Vienna. Although he had a relatively short life, living only until the age of 31, he composed over 600 secular vocal works, as well as seven symphonies, operas and other music. His popularity grew posthumously with Brahms and Mendelssohn championing his achievements later on and now he is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Classic and Romantic eras.

Visitors with the Vienna PASS can see Schubert’s birthplace in Nußdorfer Straße 54, where he lived for the first four years of his life. Now it’s been turned into a museum showcasing some of Schubert’s personal artefacts including his reading glasses. Complete the journey by visiting Schubert’s place of death in which he lived with his brother until 1828.


Joseph Haydn, once tutor to Beethoven in late 1790s and a friend to Mozart, was a composer in his own right – and a celebrated one, at that. He is nicknamed ‘Father of the Symphony’ and ‘Father of the String Quartet’ thanks to his contribution to the development of the Classical era. Although he came from a humble and somewhat poverty-stricken background, Haydn rose into

To mark the 200th anniversary of his death, his former residence was restored into a fascinating museum and enriching place for visitors to learn about Haydn’s achievements and his legacy. The Haydn House is well worth a visit to learn about the socio and political struggles in which he lived, as well as learn about his contemporaries and music scene in his prolific era.

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