Austria, Land of Music

A Brand, its History and its Functions

Both in its own self-perception as well as in the view of outsiders, Austria's image is that of a “land of music”. This branding is partly rooted in reality – such as the importance of the “First Viennese School” for European musical culture – but it is also the product of a more or less conscious branding of identity. Especially in times of crisis, such as the dissolution of the Habsburg monarchy in 1918 or after the end of World War II in 1945, the label of “Austria, Land of Music” could be exploited to build and entrench a positively loaded Austrian identity, although with somewhat varying contents. Economic considerations have played an important role in this branding process from the start, to the point where they appear predominant (for example, tourism).

The cults of certain composers have been instrumentalised by this form of identity politics, along with exhibitions, celebrations and publications, the erection of monuments, and later films, annual concerts of popular classical music (such as the New Year concerts of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) and other forms of commercialisation.  One particularly important aspect is the selection of a list of “relevant” composers, which raises the question: Which composers fit with the “Austria, Land of Music” brand? Which don't, and why?

Head of Project: Peter Stachel
Funding: ÖAW, City of Vienna (MA 7)

Photo: IKT/Peter Stachel