One of the amazing things about traveling to different places is exploring other rich cultures. A love of music is one of the many things that cultures all around the world have in common. So much of the music we enjoy today is a mixture of emerging and traditional tastes. The bands we know and love are often made of musicians trained in classical and/or jazz techniques. Today, we’ll be exploring influential destinations of live classical and jazz music.

Let’s take a look at a few historically rich sites in the music world!

Classical in Austria and France

Vienna, Austria

strauss memorial summer nights concert

Who was here? Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, and Alban Berg were Viennese. Many other geniuses of the arts came here to perform and study, such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, and even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Beethoven studied the works of Mozart in Vienna, lived most of his life there, and was eventually buried in the Vienna Central Cemetery.

What to see? Stadtpark is similar to New York’s Central Park in that it’s a green oasis in a dense city. The River Wien runs through this municipal park. There are tributes to Viennese heroes of the arts throughout the park (including statues of Franz Schubert and Johann Strauss). The northern end contains the Museum of the Applied Arts, and at the southern end, there is the Kursalon, a Renaissance- style building that doubles as a restaurant and a regular host of classical concerts.

Where to listen? There are many amazing venues for indoor and outdoor listening, such as the Kursalon, the State Opera House, Volksoper, Wiener Konzerthaus, and most notably the Schonbrunn Palace. Mozart performed at the Schonbrunn when he came to Vienna in 1762. At the foot of the Schonbrunn, the Summer Night Concert for classical music has known to attract over 100,000 eager listeners.

Salzburg, Austria

mozart square in salzburg austria

Who was here? Mozart was born in Salzburg 1756, were he lived until leaving at 25. His sons helped form the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg. There’s a Mozart Square, and the performance of his compositions have been traditional elements of the highly acclaimed Salzburg Festival for generations.

A Historical Festival Salzburg is where the Sound of Music was filmed. In the story, the characters sang at the Felsenreitschule Theater and escaped through a crowded festival. The theater is still in use today, and even that festival has been a cultural tradition since its debut in 1910. After WWII had ended, the Salzburg Festival was instrumental in bringing people together and re-establishing a sense of togetherness through the arts.

Where to listen? Salzburg has no shortage of annual classical music festivals. Some of the larger festivals are the Mozart Festival, Salzburg Easter Festival, and the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. The Salzberg Stage of the World site is an excellent resource for researching tickets, events, and venues.

Paris, France

parc floral

Who was here? So many classical composers called Paris home. Among these are Claude Debussy, Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt, and Maurice Ravel. Chopin is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery, and Debussy is buried in Passy Cemetery. Memorials for both composers and their contributions to music can be found throughout Paris.

Where to listen? There is a vast range of music venues in Paris—indoor, outdoor, concert hall, theater and opera house, as well as casual seating in restaurants hosting live performances. Among the impressive auditoriums in Paris are the Phillharmonie de Paris (which can seat 2,400 people), the Louvre and the Salle Gaveau. Theatres and opera houses, such as the Théâtre du Châtelet, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Palais Garnier, and the Opéra Bastille are incredibly beautiful venues. Churches are also on the list of impressive venues, such as the Église Saint-Ephrem and the Église de la Madeleine.

Major Festivals The Classique au Verifestival in the Parc Floral, outside the Bois de Vincennes, has been going for decades. Every weekend in August and September hosts a major classical music festival. Thirty-four years going is the Festival Chopin at the Orangerie du Parc de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne. This venue also hosts the Solistes, a Bagatelle festival in the autumn of every year.

Jazz in New Orleans, New York City, and Chicago

New Orleans, Louisiana

preservation hall

Why New Orleans? New Orleans was a catalyst of music fusion. African folk music and the classical harmonies/technical abilities of European music were brought together to make something new that influences us even today. New Orleans introduced jazz to the world’s music scene. Some notables from this vast crowd of artists are Louis Armstrong, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Trombone Shorty, Big Freedia, and Hurray for the Riffraff.

Where to listen? Preservation Hall, the Mother-In-Law Lounge, the Rock-N-Bowl, the Maple Leaf, and Vaughn’s are barely a handful of the high-rated venues in New Orleans. Also high on the list are The Jazz Playhouse, the Maison Bourbon Jazz Club, a BB King’s Blues Club location, and The Spotted Cat, which features local musicians in a location that’s freer from the hustle and bustle of Bourbon Street. The National Parks Service also has a live jazz venue as part of a jazz museum in New Orleans.

New York City, New York

blue note cafeWhere to listen? New York is the home of many jazz clubs that present many different types of live jazz. Jazz at the Lincoln Center is a phenomenal organization that supports all things jazz in community and educational efforts. The center’s orchestra (JLCO), is led by Wynton Marsalis himself.

The Blue Note Jazz Club has been around since the 1980s and has since spread all over the world, with locations in Rio, Tokyo Beijing, and Milan. The original NYC location has hosted Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, and Oscar Peterson. The Showman’s Jazz Club is a higher-end club that has hosted jazz music since 1942. On a long list of famous performers is Duke Ellington, and the atmosphere in this club is said to be timeless and unparalleled. Keep in mind, to spend time in this club there is a $14 minimum per person, per set. Bill’s Place is a snug, authentic speakeasy in Harlem, a tribute to the legendary Billie Holiday. The venue’s roots trace back to the Prohibition era, and the atmosphere mimics the period very well (according to reviews).

Who was here? Jazz came to NYC with Duke Ellington, and the city saw the work of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Billy Holiday, to name a few. 

Chicago, Illinois

jazz festival

Who was here? Chicago saw the work of Louis Armstrong, Joseph “King” Oliver, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and many more jazz artists.

Where to listen? Chicago is the home of many jazz clubs that present many different types of live jazz. The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge hosts artists playing traditional New Orleans jazz to New York’s avant-garde jazz. The atmosphere of this club mimics the 1940s, and the Uptown Poetry Slam has been performing on Sunday nights since 1986. Jazz Showcase has seen Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie. Andy’s Jazz Club is a more modern take on the city’s traditional jazz clubs. Andy’s has centered on sax solos for five decades.

Apart from the city’s many clubs and restaurants, larger events also encourage the jazz community. The Chicago Jazz Festival consistently attracts over 100,000 people to Grant Park in the summer.

These are just a few of the classical and jazz music destinations around the world. There are so many to explore!