Europe and
the world

a symphony
of cultures



16–29 April 2018

A two-week festival of
music across the Museum


Organised with

Supported by

Presented in association with



For the first time, the museum of the world becomes a stage for music taking inspiration from around the world, in a unique two-week festival.

Europe and the world: a symphony of cultures brings together diverse musical traditions in the extraordinary setting of the Museum’s galleries, surrounded by objects in the collection.

Experience works by composers that pushed European music in new directions by connecting with other cultures, including Richard Strauss, Berio, Stockhausen, Messiaen, Ligeti and Nono. Enjoy these works alongside performances devoted to historic international traditions such as classical music from India, Spanish flamenco music, Japanese spiritual music from the 7th century and Byzantine choral music.

The festival celebrates and questions Europe’s cultural interactions with the world, through a range of bold and diverse music performances and in a series of panel discussions, programmed by Artistic Director Daniel Kühnel.

The Museum has always been a place to listen, and to debate, as well as an unrivalled encyclopaedic resource where everyone can explore world culture. This festival allows everyone to listen and to explore Europe’s relationship with the world through music.

'Europe and the world hopes to encourage listening – to others, to ourselves and to the great symphony of cultures represented by the British Museum. With the generous support of the German Federal Foreign Office, these performances will look at the role of Europe, and its relationship with the world. The universality of music reveals connections between cultures across the globe and allows us to explore our shared humanity through the British Museum’s collection. This programming is a new departure for the Museum, using music to find new ways to illuminate the objects and spaces that our visitors see each day.'

Hartwig Fischer, Director British Museum

'The world collections of the British Museum provide extraordinary opportunities for musical performance. Here the material inheritance of the world’s cultures is stored and deciphered, and we are invited to interpret the ways that regions and peoples assert their identities - an endless and urgent task. We can use music and performance to tell stories, explore new ideas in a historic setting and explore encounters between cultures. This festival continues the work done in Jerusalem and Dresden exploring a European identity shaped by a new openness to the world at large.'

Daniel Kühnel, Artistic Director of the Festival

Selected events

Reading Room events


For further events, including free performances, please visit the Europe and the world events page >