This Summer’s Classical Music Events in Europe
For most people – myself included – classical music is historically associated with central and eastern European nations like Germany, Austria and Russia. That’s because many of the classical greats – Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Brahms and many more – all came from these regions. But the truth is that classical musical has roots all over Europe, from the UK (Britten) and France (Bizet) to Russia (Shostakovich).
So in an effort to better acquaint myself with classical music from all across the continent, I’ve been doing some research on cities with a range of classical concerts on this summer. So if you’re a classical fan looking for city break inspirations, here’s some suggestions for you.
Festivals in the Netherlands and the UK
Much to my surprise, one of the most interesting places for classical music this summer is Amsterdam. Every year, Amsterdam hosts the Holland Festival, the Netherlands’ oldest performing arts festival – in June. There’s a range of strands in the festival programme, including theatre, modern dance and film, but classical music and opera are at its core. This year’s programme includes a celebration of modern composer John Cage and an exciting concert by the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, conducted by the world-renowned Gustavo Dudamel.
Many of the Holland Festival’s classical events take place at the Concertgebouw, whose city centre location means that it’s near some great cheap Amsterdam hotels.
Closer to home, there are some great classical music festivals happening in Edinburgh this August. I always think of London as being the UK’s centre of classical music, but in August the Edinburgh International Festival can actually give the capital a run for its money. Highlights of the festival programme this year include a four-concert residence from the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by internationally acclaimed conductor Valerie Gergiev, as well as appearances from violinist Leonidas Kavakos and classical guitarist John Williams.
There’s even a performance of Gagaku, billed as “the world’s oldest living orchestral tradition”. And since Edinburgh is in the UK, it’s pretty easy to get to by train, though flights do also operate from major cities like London, Manchester and Bristol.
Classical music in Italy
I’ve been to Italy numerous times but, shamefully, I’ve never experienced its rich classical music tradition. I’m hoping to put that right on an upcoming trip with a visit to see Opera Roma. One of Italy’s most acclaimed classical music companies, their current season looks very appealing. Its season includes performances of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in June and Adolphe Adam’s music from the ballet Giselle in June and July. They’re even performing Sergei Prokofiev’s soundtrack to Sergei Eisenstein’s 1938 film Alexander Nevsky on one night in July. Sadly, I’ll miss this performance, but hopefully will get to see their production of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet in September.
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