Ten of the world's best musical metropolises


This year is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, with the Vienna Philharmonic launching a Beethoven cycle in the northern autumn, and other Beethoven-related events held throughout the year. The city was home to numerous classical composers, whose statues are dotted about and whose houses can be visited. Other great music-related experiences include the Haus der Musik museum, Vienna Boys' Choir, State Opera and Mozart's funerary monument. See wien.info


Music pulses through daily life and the streets of the Cuban capital. You don't have to look far to find live music, whether bolero, salsa, Afro-Cuban dance or old-time supper shows headlined by crooners in natty suits. Latin rap and hip-hop are more up-to-date musical movements. Those with a good ear will love the diversity, and note musical influences from Africa, South America, Spain and the USA. See cubatravel.cu


A night at the utterly gorgeous, red-velvet and gilt Hungarian State Opera House is a must for classical-music lovers, along with a concert at the prestigious Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, which recently had its Art Nouveau interior renovated with splendid results. For contemporary music, Sziget is one of Europe's great international music festivals. Jazz clubs abound, and DJs and live music bands fill ramshackle ruin bars. See budapestinfo.hu


Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle

Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. Photo: Supplied

You could pick any of a dozen US cities for music, but Seattle has a unique sound in its 1990s grunge, which produced bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. Currently jazz, indie and underground music venues are thriving. The very interactive Museum of Pop Culture is brilliant, with galleries devoted to grunge and to Seattle native Jimi Hendrix, plus much more. See visitseattle.org


This formerly independent city-state near Pisa has a fine musical heritage, most notably producing court cellist Boccherini and opera composer Puccini, whose home is now a museum. Opera and concerts are held in churches, convent courtyards and public squares. Among several music festivals throughout the year is the Lucca Classica Music Festival in April and the Lucca Summer Festival in July, which attracts big-name international artistes. See turismo.lucca.it


Tokyo goes mostly overlooked internationally on the music stage, which is a shame, since its live-music scene, which exploded in the 1990s, is now top-quality and among the world's most exciting – and, in Japanese style, occasionally peculiar. Major arenas, stages in parks, clubs and nightclubs provide hundreds of venues for jazz, hip-hop, rock, punk and indie music. Shibuya, Koenji, Shimokitazawa and Yoyogi districts are the hotspots. See gotokyo.org


A jubilee year is also devoted to Beethoven in his birth city, with a rich calendar of events that includes a festival and Beethoven tours that take you around 22 sights significant in the composer's life. At any time, you can visit Beethoven House, which displays original scores and his last grand piano. If you tire of one genius, you can always visit Schumann's House instead. See bonn.de


Performers at the Tango World Championships, Buenos Aires

Performers at the Tango World Championships, Buenos Aires. Photo: iStock


Tango is as much about music as dance. Its haunting notes, guitar twangs and the raspy voices of old men float from tango bars, especially in San Telmo district. Mid-August's Tango Festival is an 18-day city-wide foot-stomping extravaganza of shows, concerts, exhibitions, street dance-offs and free tango lessons. The Tango World Championships follow, during which you can see the best dancers in action. See turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar


Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Shostakovich called this city home. It boasts excellent orchestras and the Mariinsky Theatre, renowned for its superb opera and ballet company. The 2006 Mariinsky Concert Hall is another fine venue. Russia's most creative city has always pushed musical boundaries with punk, rock and more recently underground music, and is packed with live-music bars playing blues, jazz, rock, metal and much else. See visit-petersburg.ru


The Gibson guitar factory in Memphis

The Gibson guitar factory in Memphis. Photo: Supplied

Otis Reading, BB King and Justin Timberlake are among the musicians who've called Memphis home. Memphis recording studios gave the world the voices of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. Many musicians got their start in Beale Street clubs, where jazz players and gospel singers still dream of the big time. Among music-related attractions are Sun Studios, Stax Museum, the Gibson Guitar factory and Graceland. See memphistravel.com