© Christian Jungeblodt

BIMM Cities

6 Reasons Hamburg is Great for Music Lovers

6th November 2017


If you’re thinking about studying at BIMM Hamburg, but would like to know more about the city’s musical credentials, then you’re in for a real treat. Hamburg literally has music flowing through its cobbled streets and floating down its canals. It’s an exciting city for all visitors, but particularly for musicians… so here are six reasons why Hamburg is the perfect place for music lovers.

Classical music tourism

Hamburg has been a centre for classical music since the 17th century when Europe’s first public opera house opened its doors on the Gänsemarkt in 1678, and you can still see the Hamburg State Opera perform there today. Hamburg is also the birthplace of composers Mendelssohn and Brahms, and Telemann, Mahler and Johann Sebastian Bach’s son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, all worked in the city. Spend an afternoon visiting the grand 1908 concert hall the Laeiszhalle, home to both the Hamburger Symphoniker and the Philharmoniker Hamburg, before popping into Johannes Brahms’ old house, which now operates as a museum, and is where you can tinkle on the ivories of one of his old pianos.


Follow in the footsteps of The Beatles (John, Paul, George and Ringo, plus Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe) who lived in Hamburg between August 1960 and December 1962, right at the start of their career. It’s where the band honed their performance and songwriting skills (pre-Brian Epstein), along with their image (it was Hamburg photographer Astrid Kirchherr who was responsible for giving the boys their famous moptop haircuts), playing still-open venues like Indra, Molotow and Kaiserkeller (now called Grosse Freiheit 36), as well as now-closed ones such as Top Ten Club and the Star-Club. Pay homage to the Fab Four at Beatles-Platz in St. Pauli, or take a Beatles tour of the Reeperbahn district which, among other things, will help you find the doorway where John Lennon nonchalantly leans on the cover of his first solo album ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

Cool record stores

Music in Hamburg is prolific, varied and eclectic… just like their record stores! There are plenty to choose from, including Michelle Records in the city centre, who regularly hold free live shows in-store, and the very indie Zardoz Records on Schulterblatt. Karoviertel’s Groove City Record Store stocks mainly soul, funk, jazz, psych, hip-hip, Latin, Afro and Middle Eastern, while the truly artistic Smallville Records at Neuer Kamp 32 uses DIY methods to release their artists, accompanied by a host of specially created drawings.

Weird and wonderful venues

As far as macabre music venues go, you can’t go past Uebel & Gefährlich – an old World War 2 bunker which has been turned into a truly amazing, yet slightly creepy, gig venue. Also worth mentioning is the recently opened Elbphilharmonie – a 360-foot concert hall on the banks of the Elbe, beautifully designed by Swiss architects Herzong & de Meuron to resemble a great glass galleon floating down the river, with its interiors created using optimum acoustics and clever sound design. And don’t miss Knust – a sprawling former slaughterhouse converted into a fab mid-sized venue which hosts indie bands, experimental DJ sets, acoustic raves and even spoken word nights.

The music festivals

Hamburg is just the ticket for emerging musicians and future music business entrepreneurs. The city hosts a number of incredible music festivals throughout the year, including Dockville in August, and Reeperbahn Festival in September – referred to by many as Germany’s South by Southwest. Dockville is an arts and music festival which has been running since 2007, held on Europe’s biggest river island in the district of Wilhelmsburg. Reeperbahn Festival hosts over 800 live music events across 70 venues in the square mile of the Reeperbahn district of the city and, thanks to BIMM’s unique partnership arrangement, it features many a BIMM student performing too.

The music business

Hamburg’s historic background as a centre for trade and commerce, and subsequent economic prosperity, has seen it attract many of music’s biggest names in business, including record label Warner Music, publishing company Warner Chappell, as well as key independent music companies like Peer Publishing, [PIAS], Kontor/Edel, The Orchard/Membran, Freibank Music Publishing, ROBA Music Publishing and Soulfood Music Distribution. The city is also home to numerous recording studios, as well as several concert organisers including a.s.s. Concerts & Promotion and FKP Scorpio Konzertproduktionen.

If you’d like to learn more about studying music at BIMM Hamburg, why not come to our Open Day at the Nochtspeicher club in St. Pauli on Saturday 11th November for live performances, Q&As and the chance to meet some of our BIMM tutors – book your place here.

Photography – © Christian Jungeblodt


Nic Ledger