Music of Austria

From Academic Kids

Central European music
Czech Republic

Vienna has long been an important center of musical innovation. 18th and 19th century composers were drawn to the city due to the patronage of the Habsburgs, and made Vienna the European capital of classical music. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Strauss II, among others, were associated with the city. During the Baroque period, Slavic and Hungarian folk forms influenced Austrian music. Vienna's status began its rise as a cultural center in the early 1500s, and was focused around instruments including the lute.


Classical music

During the 18th century, the classical music era dominated European classical music, and the city of Vienna was an especially important city for musical innovation. Three composers arose, making lasting innovations: Ludwig von Beethoven's symphonic patterns, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's balance between melody and form, and Joseph Haydn's development of the string quartet and sonata.

The latter part of the 18th century saw the spread of piano, replacing the harpsichord. String ensembles and vocal music also spread, while the middle-class grew increasingly aware of music through the Enlightenment. In 1842, Otto Nicolai of the Imperial Opera House, announced the creation of what became the Vienna Philharmonic.

During this period, a division of music into popular compositions for entertainment and serious art music began. The line was initially not drawn so clearly, with most composers, like Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss and Joseph Lanner, writing for both fields. Of these, Strauss became the most popular composer of the era, and indeed, perhaps the first popular Austrian musician. Other serious composers included Anton Bruckner and Richard Wagner.

Wagner's late romantic music was the single biggest influence on Austria's next major composer, Arnold Schönberg. His early compositions were Wagnerian, but he quickly abandoned the whole idea of major-minor tonality and began composing non-tonal compositions, beginning in 1908. This was controversial, and led composers like Hans Pfitzner and Richard Strauss to distance themselves from Schönberg, who did have followers, such as Anton von Webern and Alban Berg.

This division between tonal and non-tonal composers continued throughout the 20th century. Schönberg's followers included Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Egon Wellesz, Friedrich Cerha and Ernst Krenek, while more conservative composers include Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Gottfried von Einem, Franz Schmidt and Joseph Marx.


The most popular form of modern Austrian folk music is Viennese schrammelmusik, which is played with an accordion and a double-necked guitar. Modern performers include Roland Neuwirth, Karl Hodina and Edi Reiser.

Schrammelmusik arose as a mixture of rural Austrian, Hungarian, Slovenian, Moravian and Bavarian immigrants crowded the slums of Vienna. At the time, waltzes and ländlers mixed with the music of the immigrants absorbing sounds from all over central and eastern Europe and the Balkans. The name Schrammelmusik comes from two of the most popular and influential performers in Schrammelmusik's history, brothers Johann and Josef Schrammel. The Schrammels formed a trio called along with bass guitarist Anton Strohmayer and helped bring the music to the middle- and upper-class Viennese, as well as people from surrounding areas. With the addition of a clarinetist, George Dänzer, they formed the Schrammel-Quartett, and Schrammelmusik's form settled on a quartet.

Neuwirth is a younger performer who has incorporated foreign influences, most especially the blues, to some criticism from purists.

Alpine New Wave

Main article: Alpunk

The band Attwenger released Most in 1991, kickstarting the Alpunk (Alpine New Wave) of folk and punk rock that soon came to include bands like Die Knödel and Broadlahn.


Main article: Ländler

The ländler is a folk dance of uncertain origin. Known under several names for a long period, it became known as Landl ob der Enns, which was eventually shortened to ländler. The dance became popular in about 1720. It required close contact between members of the opposite sex, and was thus denounced as lustful by some church authorities. Ländlers were first brought to Vienna, then to as far away as Ukraine. The ländler eventually evolved into what is known as the waltz.


Main article: Yodeling

Yodeling is a type of throat singing which developed in the Alps. In Austria, it was called juchizn and featured the use of both nonlexical syllables and yells which were used to communicate across mountains. From Austria, it spread into Bavaria, Switzerland and elsewhere.

Yodels usually begin with a single voice melody, then joined by several more voices. The presence of an echo is vital to produce the correct sound.

Also see

External links


  • Wagner, Christopher. "The Alpunk Phenomenon". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 7-12. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0
  • Wagner, Christopher. "Soul Music of Old Vienna". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 13-15. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0

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