Concerts in the Park

Outdoor classical music festivals in and around Vienna: a fresh summer breeze for the intrepid concert-goer

Wolkenturm and castle of Grafenenegg (right); costumes of Land des Lächelns (top); informal performance setting at Lockenhaus (bottom). | Photos: Andreas Hofer, Philipp Hutter, Guus Krol

Wolkenturm and castle of Grafenenegg (right); costumes of Land des Lächelns (top); informal performance setting at Lockenhaus (bottom). | Photos: Andreas Hofer, Philipp Hutter, Guus Krol

Wolkenturm and castle of Grafenenegg

Wolkenturm and castle of Grafenenegg (right); costumes of Land des Lächelns (top); informal performance setting at Lockenhaus (bottom). | Photos: Andreas Hofer, Philipp Hutter, Guus Krol

Luckily some things are still seasonal: June in Austria brings Wachau apricots and Marchfeld asparagus. July and August encompass the season for music festivals in beautiful locations. Traditionally, the Viennese leave the city for their Sommerfrische, summer air in the countryside. And much of Vienna’s classical music scene follows them, leaving the city concert halls nearly silent.

Within easy driving distance in the countryside around Vienna are a number of festivals, both indoors and out (see below, or Events: Festivals, page 25). Two of the best known are the festivals in Grafenegg and Lockenhaus.

In Vienna itself, the outdoor operetta festival in the Theresianum secondary school, in the 4th District promises to bring fine summer entertainment.

Music Summer Grafenegg

Grafenegg is a particularly idyllic location, often used for weddings. It is also home to the Tonkünstler-Orchester. Niederösterreich. The 19th-century castle stands in a 30-hectare park, whose botanical collection is outstanding. It has sequoias from California, and one of the largest red oaks in the country.

When weather permits, the concerts are outdoors, with seats for 1,700 and places on the lawn for another 300. Above the stage is the Wolkenturm, the Cloud Tower, a 15-metre-tall sculpture that provides an acoustic shell as well as visual acrobatics.

If it rains, the whole event gets moved to the auditorium, with seats for all except the picnickers on the lawn. They get to watch the concert on screens in the hall of the castle’s former riding school.

Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival

In 1981, violinist Gidon Kremer founded the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival in a small village in Burgenland. Reacting to an over-commercialised classical music scene, Kremer’s idea was to play with other world-class musicians in an intimate setting where they could be spontaneous and flexible. After 30 years, Kremer has handed the reins to cellist formidable Nicolas Altstaedt. The rehearsals are also public, so it is a rare chance to see how musicians work. A rare sort of chamber music festival it is a particularly unique event.

Vienna Operetta Summer

The garden theatre in the park of the Theresianum, the private school that feeds much of Austria’s diplomatic corps, is the site of this year’s Vienna Operetta Summer. On the programme is Franz Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns and a 75-year-late Austrian première: Joseph Beer’s Polnische Hochzeit. The first performance was in 1937 in Zurich; a planned performance in Austria was stopped by the Nazis. Before the show, you can buy picnic baskets or have dinner in the park.


Music Summer Grafenegg
Through 18 Aug.
Music Festival Grafenegg
23 Aug. – 9 Sept.

Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival 
5–11 July,

Vienna Operetta Summer
3 July – 3 Aug. Tue.–Fri., 20:00
4., Theresianumgasse 20

From “Festivals” in the Jul/Aug 2012 TVR Events Calendar:

One of the best ways to cool off on a hot summer evening is to sit in the oldest church in Vienna: Within its Romanesque stone walls, the atmosphere is naturally cool and quiet. Concerts with music from the Middle Ages to early Romantic.
Every Mon. and Tue. until Oct., and every Thu. in July
19:30, Ruprechtskirche

Halbturner Castle in Burgenland was the summer residence of Empress Maria Theresa. Featuring intimate chamber music and Lieder concerts, with sopranos Ildiko Raimondi and Renate Holm, the Augsburg String Quartet, and Robert Lehrbaumer on piano.
Every Sat., 19:30
Schloss Halbturn

Thirty-one performances of Carmen in St. Margarethen’s wonderful quarry begin at 20:30, but you can get in from 18:30. There are plenty of free parking spaces, and Burgenland is known for better weather in the summer than much of Austria. With the Italian mezzo Tiziana Carraro as Carmen and Alfred Eschwé conducting.
11 July – 26 Aug., 20:30
St. Margarethen

Four concert weekends in the private park of the Schloss Esterházy, each with a particular theme: “Vienna Classics”, “Spanish Nights”, “Music from the USA”, and “Slavic Romanticism”. Order a picnic basket filled with food with the taste of the music on the programme. Shuttle bus from Vienna available.
7–8, 14–15, 18–19 July,
25–26 Aug.

The Kamp Valley is one of Austria’s major wine producing areas. The Babenberg castle ruins provide a spectacular backdrop for summer opera. With Michele Kalmandi as Rigoletto and Florian Krumpöck conducting.
13–14, 20–21, 27–29 July, 3–5 Aug., 20:00
Babenberger Burgruine
Am Schlossberg
3571 Gars am Kamp

Mörbisch is a village at the south end of the Neusiedlersee. The 55-year-old festival has made the town a “Mecca of operetta”. The summer festival stage is on the water, giving a spectacular natural background to the music. This year you will see Johann Strauß’ Die Fledermaus. Shuttle buses from Vienna available. Make sure to bring your mosquito
12 July – 25 Aug., 20:30
Seebühne Mörbisch

A baroque castle on the outskirts of the city, Schloss Laudon is a favourite place for weddings and events. The summer chamber music festival features the aron quartet and the Trio van Beethoven.
21–26 Aug.
Schloss Laudon
14., Mauerbachstraße 43–45

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