A Music Lover's Guide to Munich

Christian Elsässer Orchestra
Christian Elsässer Orchestra | © Lena Semmelroggen / Courtesy of Unterfahrt
Roanna Mottershead

Whether you want to sit back and listen to some new music at an open mic night or get involved yourself, Munich’s music scene has something for everyone. With a whole host of festivals to choose from as well as regular concert at the city’s big venues, here’s how to get your music fix when visiting Germany’s third city.

Bands to listen to

Munich musicians are making their mark on the German music scene and beyond. For a bit of razorlight-style indie magic, listen to the Kytes; for something more edgy, try rapper Ebow and her catchy choruses. If you’re feeling more mellow, check out electro band COSBY for chillstep-style songs, or singer-songwriter (and Bob Dylan fan) Jacob Brass. Many of them are doing the rounds at this year’s festivals.

Music festivals

Munich loves a good excuse for a festival, and music nearly always plays a part. Throughout the summer there’s a festival almost every week, including the month-long Theatron Musiksommer festival at Olympiapark in August. There’s also Tollwood; this semiannual festival has both a summer and winter edition and attracts big names from around the world as well as up-and-coming local acts. The winter Tollwood even has hot cocktails to keep you warm! Smaller festivals such as Wannda also offer something a bit different with local talent and smaller stages.

Theatron Musiksommer festival

Live music venues

Whatever kind of live music venue you’re looking for, you can find it in Munich. The major convert venues are Olympiapark (which can hold 15,000 fans), Backstage and the Muffathalle. For a more intimate experience, catch an open mic night at the diverse Munich Sessions, hosted once a month at Lost Weekend, as well as their cool jazz nights, where visitors can get up and join the talented house band.

Munich Olympic Park

Go into a beer hall or beer garden in Munich, and it shouldn’t be too long before a traditional oompah band pipes up. For guaranteed brass-band action, head to Hofbräuhaus, where the resident band will slightly deafen tables within immediate proximity as guests enjoy a beer. Four times a year, visitors also get the chance to try some traditional Bavarian dancing to match at the Tanzboden held on the second floor. This Bavarian equivalent of a Celtic ceilidh, it can get tough to keep up with the instructions after a litre (or two) of beer.
Hofbräuhaus, Platzl 9, Munich, Germany, +49 89 290136100
Jazzclub Unterfahrt
Probably Munich’s most famous live music spot, the Unterfahrt has been the heart of the city’s jazz scene for over 20 years. Originally founded in a railway subway, its new home in a sprawling former beer cellar on Einsteinstrasse is equally atmospheric. This award-winning venue hosts seven concerts a week and welcomes some of today’s most cutting-edge jazz musicians and ensembles. While there’s a variety of styles, the focus is more towards free jazz. Concerts start at 9pm – reserve in advance to get the best spots in the middle.
Jazzclub Unterfahrt, Einsteinstrasse 42, Munich, Germany, +49 89 4482794

Christian Elsässer Orchestra

Alt rock scene

Believe it or not, Munich has a pretty healthy alternative rock scene. Many rock clubs cluster around Schwanthalerhöhe, Munich’s former brewing district. For a venue with extra personality, Sehnsucht has some interesting decorations above the bar; those willing to add a bra to the collection will be rewarded with a Jägermeister! Bands such as Vertigo and The Capitols are baby-faced rockers that are starting to raise their profile beyond Bavaria, with the latter plating concerts in Hamburg, Vienna, and London.

Classical music

Munich has four professional orchestras: the Munich Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Radio Orchestra and the Bavarian State Orchestra. They often play at the Gasteig, the hub of classical music in the city. There’s also the Munich Opera Festival from June 24th to July 31st, featuring 36 evenings of opera and ballet including two free open-air performances outside the opera house.

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