What you should know when visiting a classical concert in Vienna
Wanting to attend a classical concert is one of many reasons why Vienna is a coveted destination for every Europe traveler. Considered by many – even by a lot of Viennese themselves – to be the most beautiful city in the world, Vienna still embodies the seductive flair of an imperial capital of the Fin de Siècle. At the same time it is succeeding in positioning itself as a modern city with a bold contemporary style Architecture, very good (shopping) infrastructure and lively nightlife; there is something for everyone here.
Vienna has already been voted the most liveable city in the world nine times and it is hardly surprising that up to 15 million visitors come here each year to enjoy this certified quality of life as well as the numerous and varied cultural offerings.
An important part of this culture is the music. In the evening, for many, it is easy to visit one of the many wonderful classical concerts for which Vienna is so famous. It is not for nothing that the term “Viennese Classic” has been formed, though controversially discussed, it exists and Vienna is a cultural and musical model city.
Since these concerts are attended by classic enthusiasts as well as by “newbies” of this genre, we have answered the seven most important questions that many have before they attend a classical concert in Vienna.
- 1. Dress code: What should I wear to a classical concert?
- 2. Seats: Is there free seating at the classical concert?
- 3. Orchestra Sizes: how many musicians may I expect?
- 4. Program: Which classical music awaits me exactly at a concert in Vienna?
- 5. Tickets: Where do I get tickets for a classical concert in Vienna?
- 6. Cancellation policy: Can I cancel and how?
- 7. Barrier-free: Can I attend every concert even with limited movement?
1. Dress code: What should I wear to a classical concert?
A strict dress code does not exist for a classical concert in Vienna, simply because visitors in Vienna often buy concert tickets more spontaneously and perhaps have not even thought to bring a suit or a costume. Sometimes you decide just shortly before the concert starts for the visit. Additionally, it is not uncommon for whole groups to be brought to the concerts by their tour operators at the end of a long day, and they have not had time to change in between. And no one can ask them to do all of the sightseeing program in evening robes for a classical concert at the end of the day.
Nonetheless, many concert goers also come in chic evening attire or at least not quite ‘casual’. Making sure that you wear at least long pants and a shirt not only helps the overall appearance of the event, it also supports your own perception of the evening in Vienna’s cultural scene. And if you are completely honest with yourself, you will feel better if you are dressed accurately. 😌
Although it can occasionally happen that large organizers reserve the right to refuse access in extreme cases, we are not yet aware of any cases.
2. Seats: Is there free seating at the classical concert?
Most concert promoters offer tickets in at least two, but usually three or more price categories. You can find the exact offers of the individual providers, for example, on our ticket page at www.viennatickets.com.
The further up you want to sit, the more expensive it usually gets, as many visitors like to be as close to the action as possible. If you want to look the first violinist or the pretty clarinettist in the eye, you are usually well advised to choose the most expensive category. What many do not realize is that almost all of these concert venues have excellent acoustics, so you can expect an absolute sound experience from almost anywhere. Another fact is that in the first row one is often forced to watch the whole concert upwards at a certain angle, because of the elevated stage, which in the long run does little good for the neck. So that will possibly add a treatment at the hotel masseur to the most expensive ticket category. 😄
The size of the orchestra plays a role
It is important to note that there are also differences in the size of the orchestra and, coming along with it, in the size of the concert hall. These differences will be discussed in more detail in the next section, but it also plays a role in your own choice of location. On the one hand there are the big orchestras (with conductors) who also need large rooms and on the other side there are also many of the traditional chamber and salon orchestras in Vienna. Such a performance is quite authentically held mostly in smaller concert halls, that are architecturally designed for just this purpose. At these concerts it is really not necessary to look for tickets close to the stage, the circle of viewers is already intimate to match the size of the hall, so you really have the best acoustics and the best view from everywhere.
Usually the halls for a classical concert of a chamber or salon orchestra are structured in a way that they offer best view from everywhere…
Arrive in time, first come, first serve
Usually the seats are free to choose within the categories, so it is not necessarily guaranteed that you get the best seat in your category.
Most of the concerts have a first come- first serve principle. Therefore, it is advisable to whom it is very important to get hold of a seat according to his preference, to arrive on time to increase his chance accordingly. After receiving or redeeming your ticket at the box office, you will usually be escorted to your category or – if the traffic is too heavy at times – you will be shown where it is and in which area you can settle. It may also happen that some seats are reserved, because sometimes a large group of people book tickets and have made arrangements to sit together.
3. Orchestra Sizes: how many musicians may I expect?
For the size of each orchestra, there is no fixed rule per se, but the informed concert visitor knows the differences. If you read our remarks, you will most likely be able to anticipate the size of the orchestra and then decide on what you want to buy.
The Symphony Orchestra
We start with the concert class that many expect when they think of a classical concert: the big one, or the “symphony” orchestra. This orchestra, which is lead by a conductor, includes all kinds of instruments and in addition most instruments in multiple cast. From woodwind and brass, via strings to percussion and other instruments. Concerning the amount of musicians there is no fixed limit, but the regular orchestral performances in Vienna make a good cut of about 40 to 50 musicians, such as the Hofburgorchester, which usually plays in the Hofburg of the same name, or a concert in the well-known Vienna Konzerthaus.
Concert of the Hofburg Orchestra Vienna in the ceremony hall of the Hofburg Vienna
The chamber and salon orchestra
In addition to orchestral sizes whose names speak for themselves, such as solo pianist or string quartet, we present here a very important class for Vienna, namely the chamber and the salon orchestra. These are very typical of the Viennese music culture, since they convey to the audience the real feeling of Viennese classical music. As traditionally the circle of guests invited by the prince was limited to a few nobles to listen to the composer live. Regarding the musical composition there are no fixed rules, but we speak of a lot less musicians and a limited instrumentation. According to the definition of chamber music, a score of 2 to 9 musicians is to be expected here which corresponds to the character of a salon orchestra. But these numbers are artistically variable, and can expand to the size of e chamber orchestra; here you mostly find 10 to 12 players. The fascinating thing about these smaller ensembles already well established in Vienna is that they are not led by a conductor, but harmoniously tuned to each other so that they only follow their first violin.
The Vienna Residence Orchestra in the Knight of the Rose hall at the Palais Auersperg with the talented Alexandra Tirsu as first violine.
Small frame, great acoustics
Such chamber music performances take place on a smaller scale, usually in appropriately designed concert halls, but with a clear advantage: perfect vision and acoustics from everywhere. Such truly unique performances can be found at such venues as the Vienna Residence Orchestra at the Palais Auersperg – one of the oldest and most experienced concert providers of chamber music, as well as the Mozart Ensemble with its chamber music concerts at the Mozarthaus or the Viennese waltz concerts at the Palffy Palace and many more
Basically almost all available concert providers offer very detailed information on their websites, google or TripAdvisor. Often very illustrative information can also be found on Youtube, which are posted by visitors, the more you inform yourself in advance, the less you will be surprised.
4. Program: Which classical music awaits me exactly at a concert in Vienna?
Since Vienna has such a rich history of classical music and is also proud of the name “Wiener Klassik”, the music of Austria’s composer is of course the most emphasized. If you take a look at the various available concerts you will have no problem finding music by W.A. Mozart or the Strauss-dynasty, but also Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler and Vivaldi can be found on the programs of most of the classical concerts. There are concerts that play a whole coherent work of a composer, and some that make a selection of different pieces by two or more composers. Again, the websites of the organizers themselves, Youtube or various ticket portals, such as www.viennatickets.com provide sufficient information.
5. Tickets: Where do I get tickets for a classical concert in Vienna?
Due to the popularity and high demand for classical music in Vienna, there are of course a variety of distribution channels for concert tickets.
There are several ticket offices in the city center, especially near the State Opera. There are dedicated ticket offices operated by a concert organizer that offer tickets purely for the event, but there are also more comprehensive ticket offices that sell various concert tickets from various providers on commission. The staff is usually very friendly and can help with the selection, in case you still have questions after our extensive blog post in the selection.
Near the Vienna state opera you may find various ticket offices and street vendors
In many hotels not only numerous brochures of various organizers can be found, also your hotel receptionist should be able to advise you well, according to your wishes or at least research for you, call the organizer’s offices and also reserve tickets for you, if required. Just inquire at the reception in good time and your hotel will usually arrange everything else for you.
There are various street vendors who sell tickets throughout the city center, mainly around St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the State Opera to Heldenplatz. They are easily recognizable by the baroque “uniforms” they wear. They mostly speak several languages and usually they will give you friendly information on all your questions concerning the concerts. However, the human factor plays a major role here. Although the street vendors are official dealers and their tickets will definitely be valid, you should pay attention to one or two things:
Don’t believe everything, check for yourself
Official dealers can also identify themselves by appropriate identification, worn visibly. At least on demand presentable. Here are also some black sheep, often newcomers who do not know any better. Or maybe they just want to like and like to tell everything you want to hear. So do not fall for it when you promise you certain seats – you can do that, for example check immediately with the ticket, as there is usually free choice of seats within the categories. Do not be fooled by any promises regarding extra special treatments.
It is not uncommon to pay a small deposit on the ticket purchase and settle the difference on arrival at the box office of the venue. Just make sure that you receive a receipt or something written. This will usually be in the form of a voucher with your reservation or ticket number on it, so you can avoid potential confusion at the point of sale.
Here it is quite possible to get cheaper tickets, in the sense of category A for the price of category B or even the one or the other Freiticket, for such actions street vendors are quite authorized, which means for you as a customer, that you actually make an unbeatable Bargain; You just have to approach it carefully, which should not be difficult for you by now.
Online ticket portals
Safe, easy and fast
Buying tickets online is the friendliest way for many today, there are various ticket portals on the internet that serve this purpose, and you should have no trouble finding a vendor, or simply go directly to www.viennatickets.com. There you will also find detailed information about the respective orchestra and the music offered, including pictures, videos and program excerpts, as well as hall plans or further links to the organizers, who often present their artists as well as their historical background and much more.
6. Cancellation policy: Can I cancel and how?
As cancellation conditions are a very individual matter and therefore vary from one organizer to another, we strongly advise you to check the respective cancellation policy in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises. These can be found on your respective ticket portal.
Just as already mentioned under the topic “seats”, in the event that a cancellation is inevitable you should note:
The sooner the better
In general, if you cancel one day before the concert, your chances of getting a full refund of the ticket price are good, minus a cancellation fee if applicable. Just try to contact the dealer from whom you bought your tickets and discuss with him what you can do. He should help you to get your tickets either refunded or help with a replacement date.
We at Viennatickets.com are happy to help and do not charge you a cancellation fee for this service!
7. Barrier-free: Can I attend every concert even with limited movement?
Most of the concerts take place in many of the wonderful Baroque palaces of Vienna, which are famous for their impressive rooms. The way there usually leads over no less impressive stairs, however, almost all concert venues also provide accessibility for wheelchair users. Either on the basis of retrofitted elevators, through attached ramps or simply thanks to the kind help of local staff. Only in very rare cases is the access for wheelchair users simply not possible. Viennatickets.com contacted all our partners and expanded our information with the respective information as far as we receive it. In any case, if necessary, the organizer should be contacted in time to be completely safe and to allow access in time.
A classical concert in Vienna is definitely a wonderful experience and is part of the musical landscape of this city like the Schnitzel in the restaurant. Combined with the beauty of the architecture and the wonderful concert halls, you get a perfect package here. Thanks to the wide offer with its great diversity of concerts and thanks to our guide, it should be easy for you in the future to find the right experience
For a quick overview, here is a short summary:
There are no strict rules, but clothes make people and your evening all the prettier 😉
Subdivided into different categories and free seating within the chosen category. The closer to the stage the more expensive, but the first row does not always have to be the best, especially at the smaller chamber concerts
You can find everything in Vienna from solo pianists over string concert, chamber orchestra to large symphony orchestras. In general, the chamber orchestra is smaller and more intimate in its design is often led by the first violin instead of a conductor. To make out the differences especially of the latter two, it is worth reading this section.
The possibilities range from hotel reception to ticket offices or street vendors in the first district to online providers. The best way to get a bargain is to visit one of the street vendors, but do not blindly walk on the street, take what you are promised with a grain of salt and / or read our Street vendors section.
Cancellations or rebookings are usually no problem with timely registration, but please ask individually with the organizer and / or dealer: At Viennatickets.com you pay no cancellation fees. 😉
Almost all providers support you in this case, only very few have no possibility at all. Simply contact the provider early enough to find a solution; Information on this can be found on our homepage, as far as we have received yourself at www.viennatickets.com
Hopefully we were able to assist you in finding the perfect classical concert in Vienna for you, enjoy and let us know what you think!