History of the International Baroque Days Stift Melk

Monasteries have always been places of spirituality and music. This is also true of Melk Abbey, where the cultivation of monastic music reached a high point in the 18th century. The idea of Prof. Helmut Pilss, which originated in 1978, to establish a concert series tailored to the baroque rooms of the monastery for the Whitsun holidays, takes up this tradition again.


After several years of a broad classical concert program, the decision was made in 1991 to specialize in the future in the music of the Baroque period and its reinterpretation in the sense of historically informed performance practice.

In 1992, the first International Baroque Days took place at Melk Abbey; Umberto Eco gave the opening speech and, in addition to Ton Koopman and Bernhard Klebel with the Salzburg Bach Choir, the style-defining ensemble Il Giardino Armonico was also a guest. In the following years, the International Baroque Days developed into a meeting place for the emerging European baroque music scene, and as early as 1993, the Johann Heinrich Schmelzer Competition for young soloists and ensembles was held for the first time.

Thanks to the long-standing cooperation with Prof. Dr. Bernhard Trebuch and the cultural broadcaster Ö1, it was possible to anchor the International Baroque Days in the Austrian festival landscape and to document highlights of the concert events in numerous recordings and CD editions. From the very beginning, the International Baroque Days at Melk Abbey have been committed to combining a musical program of the highest quality with a love of experimentation and a great sensitivity for the uniqueness of the venues.


The current Artistic Director KS Michael Schade also sees himself in this tradition when he says: "We want to present ourselves as a festival that makes it possible to experience and feel the baroque cosmos and emphasizes the interplay between music and the baroque jewel of Melk Abbey."

KS Michael Schade OC was appointed Artistic Director of the International Baroque Days Stift Melk in 2013. For the first time, the Baroque Days took place under his programming in 2014. His artistic direction was extended in 2017 until the programming of the festival in 2022.