Aficionados have long since considered Hamburg a top destination for the arts. The great theatres and orchestras, prestigious ballet productions and the vibrant museum scene offer a taste of the cultural riches of this city on the Elbe river.
A glance at the history books reveals that Hamburg has held a reputation as a city of music for 500 years: Mendelssohn, Brahms and Handel are among the great artists to have lived and worked in the city. In historical Peterstrasse in the Neustadt district of Hamburg, a composer mile is currently being established in honour of Hamburg's musical greats. New museums and a visitor centre are being built alongside the existing Brahms and Telemann museums to create a central hub for visiting music enthusiasts.
A counterpoint to the history-steeped Peterstrasse is the spectacular Elbe Philharmonic Hall, which rises up towards the heavens from HafenCity. The venue will stage not only classical concerts but also jazz, world music and pop in three sensational auditoriums. Hamburg's newest landmark is being built on top of the old Kaispeicher A building, which juts into the northern branch of the Elbe river like the tip of a spear. The concert hall's unique architecture sees Hamburg's distinguished history meet the modern world. Another major feature will be the public plaza set almost 40 metres above the water, providing visitors with panoramic views across the port and the entire city.
The Elbe Philharmonic Concerts are currently being held in the sumptuous neo-baroque Laeiszhalle. In these exquisite surroundings, you can also enjoy classical evenings, jazz and pop concerts and children's shows, plus performances of some of the most beautiful works in musical history performed by Hamburg's trio of celebrated orchestras. Then there's the over 175-year-old Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra, which plays at the Hamburg State Opera – Germany's first public opera house and a bastion of culture since 1678. The Australian artistic director Simone Young and, of course, John Neumeier's world-renowned ballet company regularly bring the house down with stellar performances. The Hamburg Ballet Festival in June is the season's signature event and draws in the audiences with classic productions, touring shows by internationally acclaimed companies and a grand Nijinsky gala.
Did you know... it was on Hamburg's Reeperbahn that the Beatles began their rise to international superstardom? Early on in their careers they did three residencies, each lasting several weeks, at the Starclub, where to this day a plaque honours their memory. To find out more, you can take a guided Beatles Tour along the Reeperbahn and even unearth a few secrets about the Fab Four.