Slipping discs: Vienna loses its record store

Slipping discs: Vienna loses its record store


norman lebrecht

October 27, 2021

The unmissable EMI record store on Kärntnerstrasse, two minutes walk from the Opera, is to close next month after declining CD sales.

There has been a record outlet on that site for as long as anyone can remember.


  • Piano Lover says:

    I guess we will hear that this is due to “online buying”…of the same CDs that Amazon probably bought from that store!!
    How can it close down then??

    • Alan says:

      It’s down to streaming. CDs are dead. Just not quite buried yet.

      • J Barcelo says:

        Who says CDs are dead? Every month there are hundreds of new CD releases. Go to sites like Musicweb-International, Classics Today, Records International…at least in the classical world, CDs are very much alive. That wonderful 120-disc set with Ormandy in mono surely is testament to a thriving CD market.

        • caranome says:

          Don’t mean to pick on you, but your opinion illustrates the hopeless delusion of real serious classical music fans n their disconnect with the real world by trotting out “That wonderful 120-disc set with Ormandy in mono surely is testament to a thriving CD market.” So you bought 1 copy. Perhaps another 45 others also bought? A thriving market that does not make.

          • J Barcelo says:

            Actually, the demand for that set quickly had the first pressings sold out at Amazon and other outlets. They made a few thousand more to meet the demand.

      • Henry williams says:

        Alan cds are not dead. They continue to be
        Issued. The same as records. I go to record
        Fares they are packed. And they charge
        £5 to get in.

    • TheTom says:

      Do you seriously think Amazon buys its CDs at the EMI Store on Kärntnerstrasse?

      • Piano Lover says:

        Well there or elsewhere does not make any difference.I doubt if the local store will avoid selling to Amazon if it can get a good price(which I am sure Amazon gets) by saying I WAIT FOR LOCALS TO COME AND BUY IN MY STORE.I won’t go anyway.

  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    It reminds me a superb song of Sinatra “There used to be a ballpark”

  • NorCalMichael says:

    Takes me back to the years when I was traveling to Vienna regularly for work. I bought innumerable CDs there, at Da Capo, and of course at Arcadia Shop in the Staatsoper. And there also was a great little used CD store in the Windmühlgasse, off of Mariahilfer Straße, where you could get forgotten things at discounted prices. I remember finding the Böhm/Bayreuth Siegfried there, all 4 CDs of it, and the owner excitedly giving me a discount on it just to get it out of her store.

    Then there were occasional record collectors fairs in various locales around the city, like at the university, where I picked up yet more, including the Rothenberger/EMI Csárdásfürstin and the Chung Samson with Domingo and Meier.

    Un embarras des richesses…

    But all things must change, like it or not.

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    The space is too valuable for a business like a record store… same thing goes for the store at the Staatsoper that closed down no long ago.
    The CD store at Kärntner Straße was overpriced because of the location, and the classical music section in the top floor was not very large. Meanwhile there are every day more and more places in Vienna to buy second hand classical CDs and vynil records, there is the record store in the same building as Haus der Musik, the excellent store in Graben 16 and other stores. Don’t worry, those who still want to own a CD, can still get them.

  • Concerned opera buff says:

    I miss going to the few classical music stores in Chicago, where they would have the latest cd’s, but also opera magazines, full color catalogues from companies like DG, with each cd lavishly presented, along with color photos of the stars and the employees were very knowledgeable about opera. Bought many rare cd’s, no longer available anywhere else. Closing stores is sad commentary on state of classical music in America. Only a small section left at Barnes & Noble and few opera books featured. Have to buy biographies on line now.

  • Peter says:

    The recording industry was one of the biggest in the world. And they gave everything away… more or less for free.

    One of the most incredible mistakes ever.

    • PaulD says:

      The recording industry made the mistake of suing individual downloaders and seeking huge penalties from them. That set the industry up as the villain in the fight against illegal file sharing.

      • Peter says:

        How was it a mistake, to tell listeners that you have to pay for others people’s work, just like you pay for a pair of socks or an umbrella?

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Having worked in that very industry for decades, I agree with you in one large manner: the industry would keep remastering and reissuing their best recordings from their back-catalogs at ‘mid’ or budget price, but then charge full price for recordings of new and mostly unknown artists. They should have done just the opposite.

  • Ernest says:

    Oh dear, what is left? Doblinger?

  • Julien says:

    That’s sad, but hardly a surprise. The prices were too high in comparison to other shops, but I did buy there from time to time. Their classical offer had dramatically declined lately.
    There was just next door a good bookshop, which has also closed down and has been replaced by a souvenir shop, which sells hideous monstrosities to tasteless, hurried tourists.
    A musical city of 1.8 million inhabitants must now do with exactly 2 shops for classical CDs : Gramola on the Graben and the shop near the Haus der Musik.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I’m surprised it lasted this long, to be honest. What about Gramola in Graben? Wonderful staff and great selection.

  • Ben G. says:

    And let’s not forget the Wolf Music store in Strasbourg, having to close not only to the lack of sales, but also as a victim of Covd:

  • First visited in 1961 – they supplied us at the EMIR Import Dept. at Hayes with 45s of Austrian folk music….and other delightful lederhosen-thigh-slapping-style local “yahoo” musics….. A sad closure …. a lovely city.

    From this store MD Herr Walli (? or maybe the MD before him) took me to dinner in Grinzing where we sat in a wine press with two pretty girls from the shop … when the door opened …… and the whole restaurant rose to its feet as Robert Stolz came in.

    As he slowly passed the tables you could hear everyone exclaiming “Guten Abend, Herr Stolz” (but I’d already guessed who it was !). A moment to recall, indeed. And a first memorable visit to Vienna with 9 operas seen.

  • Zvi says:

    I visited Vienna 3 times and every time I went to EMI. You could sadly see the sad decline between 2013 and 2019. The selection was poor and the prices were high.
    But this store was more than cd’s, which occupied only the upper floor. What about the other floors like the tickets sales for opera/concerts and other shows that they sold?

  • Frank says:

    The comments seem to indicate there are various shops / stores for classical music in Vienna yet. Da Capo and ‘the little store in Windmuhlgasse’. So maybe it’s too early to claim the sky is falling…