Music-Country Austria

A Branding, 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 “music-country”. This branding is partly rooted in reality – e.g. 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 “music-country Austria” could be exploited for building and fixing a positively loaded Austrian identity, although with somewhat differing contents. From the beginning, economic considerations played an important role in the branding, to the point where they seem to be predominant (tourism).

Instruments of these forms of identity politics were the cults of some composers, exhibitions, celebrations and publications, the erection of monuments, later films, annual concerts of popular classical music (such as the New Years concerts of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) and other forms of commercialization. Of specific importance is the predefinition of a list of relevant composers, which leads to the question, which composers fit into the brand of “Music-country Austria”, and which do not fit, and for which reasons.

Publications: Peter Stachel