Tallinn designated as UNESCO City of Music

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay announced 49 new cities that were designated as members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Among them is Tallinn, which will bear the title of UNESCO City of Music from 2022.

The Mayor of Tallinn, Mihhail Kõlvart, noted that being a city with a history of rich musical life, Tallinn is fully deserving of the title. “A strong musical tradition has been closely embedded in our cultural heritage through centuries, and therefore the title of UNESCO Music City is extremely gratifying,” Kõlvart commented. “The title was preceded by thorough work in cooperation with Tallinn’s music professionals and cultural institutions, with whom further activities will also be carried through. Involving all shareholders in the field of music, we intend to prepare a detailed action plan based on the created Tallinn Music Strategy. Admission to such an honourable community of creative cities is an extraordinary recognition for a candidate running for first time, which shows the weight of our contribution and the strong musical tradition here.”

According to the Artistic Director of the Tallinn Philharmonic Society, Tõnu Kaljuste, it is not only great news to musicians, but is of great significance for the entire city. “Ever so often, colleagues from around the world ask me how we have managed to create such a lively and high-level music life in Tallinn. I hardly think much about these things when I make music myself – I am simply looking for new and exciting opportunities in this endlessly rich world of music. I believe that any international recognition is a small dose of praise for every musician, giving both delight of the heart and strength for the future. I hope that it will have the same effect on the city in which we live, play and sing. The UNESCO City of Music is a high recognition, congratulations to us all!”

According to Madli-Liis Parts, the Foreign Relations Adviser of the Ministry of Culture, the title will certainly enliven the international cultural relations of the whole of Estonia. “Tallinn’s reputation as a city that values culture is internationally very high. Our capital is home to many groups, festivals and concert organizers, and a great breeding ground for newcomers. Uniqueness, high artistic level and professionalism, as well as openness to new and emerging ideas are the directions that international partners are definitely looking for in cooperation. Tallinn has it all,” said Parts. “During the COVID pandemic, the organizers of Estonian music life have set an example to the whole world with fast and smart solutions. This confirms that we are also seen as active partners in shaping international music life and making music policy decisions. This position can only be strengthened through cooperation between Tallinn and Estonia.”

The process of applying for the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Music began in December 2019 and involved a number of music stakeholders. The process was coordinated by Ragnar Siil (Creativity Lab) together with a steering group consisting of representatives of the City of Tallinn and the Ministry of Culture and key partners in the music sector: the Estonian Music Council and the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Music Estonia and the Estonian Choir Association. In addition, a working group for the application of the City of Music was established, including representatives of 80 organizations from all music genres.

Tallinn’s application was accompanied by creating of Tallinn Music Strategy 2022-2025, which focuses on offering additional opportunities for creating and enjoying music. The main focus of the strategy is to support the continuous development and growth of the city’s music industry. The Tallinn Culture and Sports Department will lead the implementation of the strategy. More information can be found at

The UNESCO Network of Creative Cities was launched in 2004 with the aim of highlighting the role of culture and creativity in the sustainable urban development. There are seven categories in the network: crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music. One city can belong to only one category. From Estonia, Tartu (Literature) and Viljandi (Crafts and Folk Art) have previously been designated as UNESCO Creative Cities. Tallinn applied for membership in the Network for the first time.

In addition to Tallinn, the newly designated Cities of Music include Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Batumi (Georgia), Belfast (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Huancayo (Peru), Ibagué (Colombia), Kharkiv (Ukraine), London (Canada), Port Louis (Mauritius) , Recife (Brazil), Santiago de Cuba (Cuba) and Xalapa (Mexico). Among Estonia’s closest neighbours, the Lithuanian capital Vilnius was entitled the City of Literature. The membership title of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network is permanent

Source: Tallinn City

Riine Tiigi

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