All You Need to Know about the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival 2024

At Drive South Africa, we know that our amazing country offers both locals and overseas visitors a wealth of attractions and activities to please the most discerning and divergent tastes. South Africa isn’t only one of the most sought-after self-drive routes , trails for 4×4 rentals, and safari destinations in Africa, but it also offers its visitors numerous cultural activities. These include museums, historical sites, buildings and venues, art galleries, ancient rock art, and musical events.

Amongst the latter, the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, held annually in January and February in Johannesburg, is one of the most notable and most enjoyable. We’ve put together some information for you about this popular event. It’s strongly recommended that you make your reservations and bookings well in advance for this sought-after event so you’re not disappointed.

The Origins of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival

The Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, abbreviated to JIMF, was established in 2006 under the leadership of renowned conductor and radio personality Richard Cock. It’s since become one of South Africa’s best-loved classical music festivals.

A Jazz band live performance
A Jazz band live performance

It offers a series of concerts and cultural events that aim to promote and celebrate the enduring legacy of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest classical composers. He expanded the rigid traditional boundaries of music into something new, exciting, and innovative. The JIMF brings classical music to a significantly wider audience as it fuses both South African and American jazz with classical music into what is really a unique and exciting musical experience.

A Multi-Disciplinary Musical Celebration

This festival transcends traditional classical music concerts by also incorporating opera, theatre, dance, vocal masterclasses, and visual arts that offer a dynamic, joyful, and immersive experience. It combines a creative approach with exceptional classical performances and innovative outreach projects that unite music enthusiasts of all ages, cultures, languages, and backgrounds.

Duration and Timing

The JIMF is held annually around 27 January, Mozart’s anniversary, and typically stretches from late January into early February. This coincides with the summer break in South Africa’s classical music scene and presents a diverse program of events and concerts offered at different venues in Johannesburg.

Who Performs at the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival?

World-class musicians, orchestras, and ensembles from across the globe participate in this sought-after annual event. This brings together a program of events in which distinguished artists and performers showcase Mozart’s works, as well as the works of other renowned composers and artists.

Why Mozart?

Mozart’s legacy is celebrated for his genius and extraordinary versatility. He composed more than 600 works that span operatic, piano, symphonic, chamber, vocal, and choral music genres. His consummate ease with different compositional styles and boundary-pushing creativity make him a pivotal figure in classical music.

Mozart monument in Vienna
Mozart monument in Vienna

Mozart’s enduring appeal has its origins in the idea of the precocious ‘child prodigy’ who triumphs over adversity and a tyrannical father to become one of the undisputed greats amongst musical composers. Pushing every instrument and musical genre he touched to its limits and beyond, he effortlessly moved from ‘serious’ to ‘light’ music. Every genre was simply grist to the amazing and enduring ‘mill’ of his musical genius!

Outreach and Education Programmes

The JIMF emphasizes educational initiatives for children and students. These include workshops, masterclasses, and school performances, all with the aim of fostering an appreciation for classical music and stimulating local talent.

Collaboration with Local Artists

The festival collaborates with South African musicians and performers, highlighting local talent alongside international artists. The impressive range of local musicians that were included in 2023 included trumpeter Philip Cox, soprano Andiswa Makana, contralto Minette du Toit Pearce, the Odeion String Quartet, pianist Paul Hanmer, tenors Sipho Fubesi and Siyabonga Maqungo, and percussionist Magda de Vries.

Afro Jazz set-up for local artist
Afro Jazz set-up for local artist

The Mozart Bambini Programme

This program focuses on nurturing young musical talents through workshops, competitions, and performances. By offering young musicians the opportunity to perform and take part in workshops and competitions, they’re encouraged to develop their skills and love for classical music.

Community Engagements

The JIMF reaches well beyond the concert hall. It organizes numerous community engagements like open-air concerts, workshops, and other interactive events with the aim of engaging a wider audience. Doing so brings the enjoyment of Mozart’s music, as well as other classical music compositions, to a broader, more diverse audience, as well as children and young people.

Venues

Concerts and other events are held at various iconic venues across Johannesburg, each adding its own unique ambiance and acoustics to the musical experience. These venues have previously included the Linder Auditorium, the UJ Theatre at the University of Johannesburg, Nambitha in Soweto, St Mary’s in Waverley, Northwards House in Parktown, and Parktown Girls’.

Cultural Exchange

Apart from fostering a love for classical music and Mozart’s music in particular, the JIMF also serves as a platform for cultural exchange. Not only does it attract international visitors, but it also fosters international connections through the universal language and love of music.

Celebrating the Legacy of Mozart

Reflecting upon and promoting awareness of Mozart’s genius, the festival sets out to translate his inspiring legacy and music into contemporary settings. This aims to ensure that his legacy lives on to continue to captivate audiences and enrich their lives.

Workshops and Lectures

With renowned musicians and scholars leading insightful sessions and workshops, the JIMF aims to promote musical education by providing opportunities for aspiring musicians and music enthusiasts to enhance their knowledge and skills.

This contributes to the cultural enrichment of the community and nurtures local talent by providing an opportunity to learn from experts. It also fosters cultural exchange, as well as cross-cultural learning and collaboration.

The Mozart in the Townships Project

This initiative brings classical music to underprivileged communities through performances and educational programs. It includes various activities such as performances, workshops, and music education programs with the focus of making classical music more accessible to these communities. The project also incorporates traditional township and gospel music alongside works by Mozart, Rameau, Bartók, and other composers, resulting in a unique blend of musical styles and cultural influences.


The renowned Johannesburg International Mozart Festival is a comprehensive celebration of Mozart’s music and legacy. It offers a rich and diverse blend of performances, educational activities, and cultural exchanges, making for an immersive and rewarding experience.

Welcome to Soweto sign
Welcome to Soweto sign

The range of events on offer makes it suitable for music enthusiasts of all ages and caters to both classical music aficionados and newcomers. If you want to attend this highly-rated event, rest assured that at Drive South Africa, we’ll be able to supply you with the ideal affordable rental vehicle in Johannesburg to do so in comfort and safety.

FAQs

What is the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival?

It’s an annual festival held around Mozart’s anniversary on 27 January in Johannesburg, South Africa. Its aim is to introduce classical music, and Mozart’s music in particular, to as wide an audience as possible.

When is the festival held?

It is held annually from late January to early February.

Where is it located?

It takes place at various venues across Johannesburg, South Africa.

What are the ticket options?

These range from single concert tickets to package deals. Tickets are available online.

Is the festival suitable for children?

Yes, indeed! There are, in fact, special programs for families to encourage children’s attendance.

Is only Mozart’s music included in the festival?

No, not at all. The primary focus is on Mozart’s music, but the work of other classical composers is also included.

Are educational activities included in the festival?

Absolutely! The festival includes workshops, masterclasses, and lectures.

 

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