St. Louis has made a tremendous contribution to nearly every genre of American music. Among them:
- Ragtime and Blues -- Even before Scott Joplin lived here and wrote ragtime hits like “The Entertainer,” St. Louis was a cradle of the blues. Among those who lived here were W. C. Handy, the composer of “The St. Louis Blues,” followed by the likes of Albert King and Ike and Tina Turner, and now Kim Massie and others. The blues are still popular at clubs here, and the Big Muddy Blues Festival is an annual event on the Mississippi Riverfront at Laclede’s Landing. Not far from that site, The National Blues Museum opened downtown in 2016.
- Classical and such-- The St. Louis Symphony, the second-oldest symphony orchestra in the United States, is also ranked among the nation’s best. It’s one of the few orchestras in the country that’s invited each year to perform in New York’s Carnegie Hall, and its European tours have drawn raves in such musical capitals as London and Berlin. It maintains a nationally recognized outreach program that enables St. Louisans to hear the Symphony’s world-class musicians in many places besides Powell Hall, the Symphony’s home. The Symphony’s musicians perform in parks, churches, museums, hospitals, schools – all over the area. And the foundation they provide helps lead to a variety of small, independent music groups who give St. Louis a year-round concert calendar in early music, classical guitar, chamber music, choral ensembles, opera (Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the Union Avenue Opera), and more.
- Jazz – As it has for its sister genres, ragtime and the blues, St. Louis has also been a cradle for jazz, producing figures like Tom Turpin, Clark Terry, and Miles Davis, among others. Today, jazz is declining in many other cities, but it’s enjoying a renaissance in St. Louis, thanks to the efforts of both individuals and such organizations as Jazz St. Louis, a non-profit that conducts educational outreach and sponsors concerts at Jazz at the Bistro, its night club in Grand Center.
- Rock & Pop –Chuck Berry, the St. Louisan who pioneered rock ‘n roll, still performs monthly at the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, providing a bucket list-worthy evening. Just down the street, The Pageant provides a mid-size setting for artists like Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello.
- Venues – A generation ago there were only a handful of places to hear live music in St. Louis. Today there are dozens. Whole neighborhoods are dotted with clubs: Washington Avenue in downtown, The Grove, the Loop, Maplewood, Soulard, and South City, among many more. And there are charming outdoor music series at places like the Missouri Botanical Garden (Whitaker Music Festival), Francis and Tower Grove Park (Compton Heights Concert Band), Forest Park (Twilight Tuesdays) and more.