9 elegant pieces of architecture inspired by classical music

30 June 2021, 08:50

Incredible buildings inspired by classical music.
Incredible buildings inspired by classical music. Picture: Getty / Alamy

By Rosie Pentreath

We explore the most mind-bendingly brilliant music-themed buildings and spaces around the globe.

We’ve seen classical music housed in some pretty spectacular spaces – from ornate opera houses and iconic, bedomed concert halls, to sensational architectural landmarks and jaw-droppingly beautiful natural surroundings.

But music, in turn, has inspired actual buildings of its own. And the most inspiring of these, for us, are the architectural wonders that are literally music-shaped and built around giant musical instrument designs.

Here are some of the most stunning examples around the world.

Read more: Discover the world's most beautiful concert halls

  1. Violin and piano Building, Huainan City

    The Shannan district of Huainan City in China is home to this form-defying building, which is not one glorious musical instrument but two.

    A perfectly proportioned glass violin, which houses the building’s entrance, elevator and staircase, leans against a steadfast grand piano containing concert halls and practice spaces.

    Violin and piano Building in Huainan City, China
    Violin and piano Building in Huainan City, China. Picture: Alamy
  2. Dancing House, Prague

    The ‘City of a Hundred Spires’ houses a (literally) mind-bending tower of glass amidst its dark gothic and baroque façades.

    The building of Nationale-Nederlanden financial services, located on the Rašínovo nábřeží in Prague, is nicknamed Dancing House – Tančící dům in Czech – or Fred and Ginger, in memory of the beloved ballroom pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

    The building was the ingenious invention of Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić, working in collaboration with famous Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry.

    Read more: An opera singer, an empty Hollywood Bowl and 3 minutes of beauty we all need.

    Dancing House, Prague
    Dancing House, Prague. Picture: PA
  3. Singing House, Dresden

    From a dancing house, to one that sings…

    Nestled safely in Dresden’s student district, Neustadt, is this wonderful building that makes music at the first drop of rain.

    Situated in an art complex called the Neustadt Kunsthofpassage (‘Art Courtyards’), the melodious maison is the brainchild of sculptor Annette Paul, and designers Christoph Roßner and André Tempel, who were keen to augment that tuneful tap of rain on the windows…

  4. Music Box Village, New Orleans

    Music Box Village is a community art project that features distinct ‘musical houses’ celebrating the artistic genres of the New Orleans.

    “Each installation is inspired by the unique musical and architectural culture of our home city of New Orleans, and represents a collaborative process between artists based here and abroad,” the creative space’s website explains.

    Music Box Village, New Orleans
    Music Box Village, New Orleans. Picture: Getty
    Music Box Village, New Orleans
    Music Box Village, New Orleans. Picture: Getty
  5. The Guitar Hotel, Hollywood FL

    Hollywood Florida’s gigantic, glitzy Guitar Hotel is part of the recently expanded Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort complex. The glass-fronted, 450-foot guitar houses 638 luxury guest rooms and suites, and was designed to resemble back-to-back guitars. A snazzy light show illuminates the striking building every evening.

    The Guitar Hotel in Hollywood, Florida
    The Guitar Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. Picture: Getty
    The Guitar Hotel is part of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
    The Guitar Hotel is part of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Picture: Getty
  6. Old Schmitt Music Building, Minneapolis

    Minnesota’s musical landmark is the Old Schmitt Music Building in the city of Minneapolis.

    Its façade has housed the score of Ravel’s piano suite Gaspard de la Nuit for years. As the adopted name indicates, this building is the former headquarters of music store, Schmitt Music.

    The late great Prince famously posed here for the ultimate music selfie.

    Old Schmitt Music Building, Minneapolis
    Old Schmitt Music Building, Minneapolis. Picture: Getty
  7. Holiday Inn, New Orleans

    Holiday Inns tend to be pretty run-of-the-mill, right? Not this one. The Holiday Inn New Orleans-Downtown Superdome is decked out with a giant and stunningly detailed clarinet mural.

    We’ve seen guitars a plenty; violins and pianos both make striking shapes for buildings, but we see less of this modest member of the woodwind family when it comes to architecture. So big props to artist Robert Dafford for giving the clarinet its day in the sun (and rain, at times).

    The hotel is across the street from the house that iconic jazz trumpeter and vocalist Louis Armstrong grew up in, and doubles up as an art museum dedicated to the area’s rich cultural history.

    Holiday Inn New Orleans-Downtown Superdome with clarinet mural by Robert Dafford.
    Holiday Inn New Orleans-Downtown Superdome with clarinet mural by Robert Dafford. Picture: Getty
  8. Lullaby Factory at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London

    Patients at the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building, part of Great Ormond Street children’s hospital, were front of mind for this escapist musical design.

    The Lullaby Factory, which was created by Studio Weave, features structures evocative of brass instruments and makes its own music, which can be heard via the hospital’s Patient Bedside Entertainment System or online.

    The Lullaby Factory at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London
    The Lullaby Factory at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. Picture: Studio Weave
    The Lullaby Factory at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London
    The Lullaby Factory at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. Picture: Studio Weave
  9. Chimes, Exeter

    David Sheppard Architects unveiled a house fit for a pianist when it completed the elegant, curved ‘Chimes’ building in 2014.

    The private one-bedroom premises was the home of a pianist who had made but one request: make the space suitable for my two pianos and their resplendent music.

    The house’s curves evoke the unique shape of the piano with ingenious economy, while resonating the instruments’ sound with cleverly planned acoustic elements.

    Chimes, Exeter
    Chimes, Exeter. Picture: David sheppard Architect
    Chimes, Exeter
    Chimes, Exeter. Picture: David sheppard Architect