Vienna Classical Music - Peter Siroki
The Vienna State Opera. Photo by Peter Siroki.

How Vienna Changed the Classical Music World

October 7, 2016

For approximately 100 years, the Classical Period reigned the music world from the mid-18th into the 19th century. At the heart stood Vienna; a virtual melting pot of artistic influences and the home to Gluck, Mozart, Hadn, Salieri, Beethoven, and Vienna-native Schubert. Its great musical and other artistic output therefore earned the period the nickname: Viennese Classic.


This quintessential European city cherished tradition, but why did it have such a lasting impression on Chamber Music? Perhaps it was in part geographic and political influences, as the capital of the Austrian Empire, and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Vienna’s educated audiences and informed monarchs and patrons may have played a role, as music was still tied to aristocratic court culture. But all these influences are merely factors in the the city’s musical legacy, due mostly to the individuals who inhabited Vienna for those and other reasons.

Vienna proved inspirational to composers such as Mozart, Schönberg, and Brahms and their joint body of work had lasting effects.

Mozart, Schönberg and Brahms

The infant prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart flourished under music instruction from his father, and performed his first musical tour across Europe at age 5. He went on to perform for Austrian royalty at age 6, and after moving to Vienna at 25 he produced his greatest legacies, including the Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute.

The son of a musician, Johannes Brahms managed the Vienna Singer’s Academy in 1862 and 1868, as well as gave numerous concerts of his own music. He considered Vienna his second home, and enjoyed a fruitful career there.

Of the Second Viennese School, Arnold Schönberg stood out; a self-taught composer and performer, Schönberg was greatly influenced by expressionist painters of the time. Of Jewish descent, he was forced to flee Vienna in 1933, living out his days in Los Angeles.

A Night in Vienna

Join us Sunday, November 13th at the Vancouver Playhouse for A Night in Vienna, as performed by the Chamber Music Society’s String Sextet. Violinists Sean Lee, Alexander Sitkovestsy, Matthew Lipman and Richard O’Neill, along with cellist Keith Robinson will perform Mozart, Schönberg, and Brahms under the direction of CMS’ co-artistic director David Finckel.

Experience some of Chamber Music’s best for an unforgettable afternoon. Purchase your tickets here.