Two rivers and a canal
This MRT music festival follows the highly successful model we have pioneered since 1994: a succession of private concerts in beautiful and appropriate historic buildings, with the audience accommodated on board a comfortable modern river cruiser where they dine, sleep, relax and listen to lectures. In this case, there are two rivers and a canal: the Danube, the Main and the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.
The attempt to link the two greatest rivers of Europe via an artificial waterway, and hence the North Sea with the Black Sea, was first attempted by Charlemagne in the eighth century. The canal finally opened to traffic in 1992, passing through a region which is one of the scenically most alluring and artistically most accomplished in Germany.
The beautiful heart of Germany
In mediaeval and early modern times Franconia was at the heart, geographically and culturally, of the German-speaking world. By the time it was added to the Electorate of Bavaria in 1803 it was already becoming a backwater. Actually, the festival extends beyond Franconia: Regensburg lies in Bavaria proper, but we hope readers (and Bavarians) will allow us to stretch a point for the sake of simplicity of nomenclature.
The Festival visits three of Germany’s best preserved historic cities, Regensburg, Nuremberg and Bamberg, and there is time to explore their architecture, museums and picturesque streetscapes as well as attend concerts in some of their best buildings.
Appropriate music in historical buildings
As with most of our festivals, a key feature is that most of the concerts are performed in buildings which are of the same period as the music. Most are in palaces or great country houses, but there is also a Romanesque church, a mediaeval and renaissance town hall and a 17th-century warehouse.
Both musically and architecturally, however, the 18th century dominates. Mozart pops up regularly, as do Bach Vivaldi, Haydn, Mysliveček and Franz Benda. One programme also reaches back to 16th-century Venice and another explores the Holy Roman Empire in the 17th century; others reach forward and include Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler and Richard Strauss.
Musicians of the highest quality
We have engaged outstanding performers from Germany, Britain, Austria, Belgium and Italy – though some individual members of the ensembles come from further afield.
There are the brilliant period-instrument ensembles of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, La Serenissima and the Munich Baroque Soloists; dazzling soloists Dorothea Röschmann (soprano), Sophie Junker (soprano), Dorothee Oberlinger (recorder) and Xenia Löffler (oboe); accompanist Malcolm Martineau and the outstanding Albion String Quartet; and exciting Early Music groups the Amphion Octet and In Echo.
The potency of the music is further magnified by the size of the venues, which generally is modest in comparison with conventional concert halls. This creates an intimacy of musical communication, which greatly enhances the artistic experience.
The concerts are private, being exclusive to around a hundred festival participants who book a package which also provides accommodation on a first-class river cruiser, all meals, flights between London and Munich (if required), travel by luxury coach and talks on the music.
The spoken word is an important ingredient of the festival, with talks on the music by Dr Michael Downes, a celebrated music historian, critic and broadcaster, and Professor Tim Blanning of Cambridge University, perhaps the most distinguished living historian of Central Europe.
The comfort of a river cruiser
To this exceptional artistic experience is added a further pleasure: the comfort and convenience of the ship, the MS Amadeus Silver, chartered exclusively for this festival.
As both hotel and principal means of transport, the ship enables passengers to attend the concerts and visit some magnificent buildings in the region without having to change hotel or drive long distances. The succession of fine meals is prepared by the excellent on-board chefs.
Day 1, Saturday 25th August: Passau
Fly from London or Manchester to Munich, from where you are taken by coach to Passau. Alternatively, make your way to Passau independently.
The ship, MS Amadeus Silver, is ready for boarding from 4.00pm. Afternoon tea is available upon arrival. Piled up on promontories at the confluence of three rivers, the Bavarian city of Passau is dominated by a great Baroque cathedral and other historic buildings which arise from an utterly charming streetscape. It was one of the most important episcopal seats in Central Europe and served as a refuge for the Habsburg court in times of danger.
There is time to settle into your cabin before a drinks reception and dinner. Sail overnight from Passau to Regensburg.
Day 2, Sunday 26th August: Regensburg
There is the first in a series of daily music and history lectures as we sail along the Danube to Regensburg. Regensburg is one of the most delightful and best-preserved cities in Germany. The street layout and much of the architecture dates from the Middle Ages when it was a highly important trading centre, with religious foundations and political institutions to match. The 12th-century stone bridge across the Danube is one of the oldest major river crossings in Europe.
In Echo | Alex Potter counter-tenor
Echoes of the Danube: the Flow of Habsburg Power
Adjacent to the mediaeval stone bridge and with a distinctive five-storey roof, the Salzstadel was built in 1620 to provide secure storage for salt, a function which continued until the 19th century. The concert takes place in the roof space, a complex cradle of massive beams, purlins, rafters and posts.
Power and influence flowed from 17th-century Vienna and across the Holy Roman Empire, and Regensburg, the Imperial capital, was a hub of Italianate music and culture. Archives across the former Habsburg lands house works by Italians such as Rigatti, Rovetta, Sances, Pandolfi-Mealli and Bertali. Composers from north of the Alps could nevertheless flourish in this environment, as evidenced by the success of composers like Muffat, Biber, Johann Schenck and the Franconian Kapellmeister Johann Staden.
Directed by cornetto player Gawain Glenton, In Echo comprises five outstanding instrumentalists (the other instruments are violin, viola, viola da gamba and organ) and is dedicated to Renaissance and Early Baroque music. While they strive for authenticity of performance, they are equally concerned with enthralling modern audiences – which they argue is the same thing. For this concert they are joined by renowned countertenor Alex Potter.
Return to the ship for lunch after the concert. Sail overnight from Regensburg to Nuremberg.
Day 3, Monday 27th August: Nuremberg, Ansbach
Moor at Nuremberg on the Main-Danube Canal, twenty minutes by coach from the centre. There is a shuttle service for those who wish to explore the city.
An immensely rich trading and manufacturing city in the mediaeval and early modern periods, Nuremberg is girt by massive walls and possesses great art and architecture, particularly of the 15th and 16th centuries. Some of the churches contain outstanding sculpture and other works of art, and museums include the Albrecht Dürer House and the German National Museum, home to the finest collection of German art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in the country.
Coaches leave Nuremberg for Ansbach at 2.00pm.
Ansbach was not one of the greater princely states of Germany, but in the 18th century its rulers had large ambitions, both dynastic and architectural. A daughter of the margrave, Caroline, became Queen of Great Britain as wife of George II; and in a region where palaces abound, stimulated by competitiveness and the absolutist desire to impress, their residence and nearby gardens stand out for their size and artistry. The state apartments survive little altered since the 18th century.
Amphion Wind Octet | Xenia Löffler oboe, director
Ansbach, the Residenz
Mozart & Bohemian friends, Myslivecek, Družecký, Triebensee
The Festsaal of the Residenz, dating to the 1730s, is a glorious statement of the power and enlightenment of the Ansbach margraves.
Many of the best wind players in 18th-century Europe were Bohemians by birth, including most of those for whom Mozart composed. This programme presents Mozart’s Serenade in C minor (K.366), pieces by Josef Mysliveček and Jiří Družecký, and Josef Triebensee’s arrangements of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Founded in 1998, the Berlin-based, period-instrument Amphion Wind Ensemble have delighted audiences in many European countries and have become regulars on MRT festivals. Members are graduates of Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and are distinguished soloists in their own right. The group has recorded music by Krommer, Triebensee, Mozart, Rosetti and Beethoven.
After the concert, return to the ship for dinner and sail overnight to Bamberg.
Day 4, Tuesday 28th August: Bamberg, Pommersfelden
Bamberg has an enchanting upper town on the hills to the south of the River Regitz, a tributary of the Main. The morning concert is in this district.
Barocksolisten München | Dorothea Seel director
Sophie Junker soprano
Bamberg, Church of St James
Mozart Motets and Concertos
Largely Romanesque but with Gothic and Baroque embellishments, St James (St Jakob) is one of the oldest churches in Bamberg. Formerly part of a monastery, there is a delightful cloister.
Spirited period-instrument ensemble Barocksolisten München (Munich Baroque Soloists), directed by flautist Dorothea Seel, and brilliant young Belgian soprano Sophie Junker, present an all-Mozart programme. Sophie sings some of his most glorious liturgical music, the motet Exsultate, Jubilate (K.165) and Et incarnatus est from the Mass in C minor (K.427). The other pieces are the bassoon concerto in B flat, K.191, and the flute concerto in D, K.314.
Dorothea Seel had the ambition to unite musicians in a unique ensemble with the vision to make exquisite music with like-minded artists. This in order to pursue levels of interpretation and artistic accomplishment that would not be possible within the boundaries of regular concert activities. Due to the fact that every one of the ensemble’s musicians is a soloist, the borders between orchestral and chamber music are blurred. Sophie Junker’s career is beginning to take off as she becomes recognised by promoters and conductors as an exciting new talent.
In the afternoon, drive through rolling countryside to the little village of Pommersfelden, location of Schloss Weissenstein, the country retreat of Bishop Lothar Franz von Schönborn. This is one of the great houses in Germany, built 1711–18 by Johann Dientzenhofer, member of the leading Franconian dynasty of architects. Schönborn was Bishop of Bamberg and Archbishop of Mainz, and one of the most influential figures in the Holy Roman Empire.
La Serenissima | Adrian Chandler violin, director
Schloss Weissenstein, Pommersfelden
The Four Seasons
The stairway at Schloss Pommersfelden is one of the grandest in Europe, and the magnificent Marble Hall has frescoes by Johann Michael Rottmayr, the greatest Austrian painter of the era.
La Serenissima was founded in 1994 by violinist Adrian Chandler, primarily to perform the music of Vivaldi. They are among the world’s finest exponents of the Red Priest’s prolific output, performing with exceptional vivacity and sensitivity, throughout Britain and many other countries.
Their highly acclaimed recording of Vivaldi’s I Quattro Stagioni is the outcome of over two decades of thought and study. This is no ordinary performance, but one whose originality, passion and brilliance may persuade you that you have never heard the piece played properly before. The afternoon’s setting is ideal – a Baroque hall in lovely countryside (though we cannot promise a thunder storm). Pieces by Telemann, Brescianello and Fasch furnish the first half of the concert.
Return to the ship for dinner and remain moored overnight in Bamberg.
Day 5, Wednesday 29th August: Bamberg
After the morning talks, most of the day is free for exploring Bamberg. There will be a shuttle service between the mooring and the city centre.
One of the loveliest and least spoilt of German towns, Bamberg has delightful streetscape, riverside walks and fine buildings and museums. The Romanesque cathedral houses sculpture of the highest importance, including the Bamberg Rider, a potent image of knightly values. The Domplatz is one of Europe’s finest urban spaces, an irregular square bounded by the cathedral, a mediaeval and Renaissance range which was once an imperial court, the Baroque episcopal palace and a low wall affording views over the city.
After an early supper drive to Schloss Seehof on the outskirts of Bamberg for an evening concert.
Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca
Dorothee Oberlinger recorder, director
Bamberg, Schloss Seehof
Flauto Veneziano: music for recorder
The imposing summer residence of the Prince-Bishops of Bamberg was begun in 1686 on a low hill outside the city. It has four domed corner towers and assertive Baroque ornamentation. The White Hall inside could hardly be more different: redecorated in delicate Rococo style in 1753, it has a ceiling fresco of Parnassus by Giuseppe Appiani.
Under this Italian ceiling, there is a concert of Venetian flute concertos from the 16th to 18th century. It showcases the extraordinary talent of Dorothee Oberlinger, one of Germany’s leading recorder players. Since 2004 she has taught as Professor of Recorder at the Mozarteum, Salzburg. She directs her own group, Ensemble 1700, as well as performing and recording with other leading period-instrument ensembles.
Founded in Treviso (a city in the Veneto awarded the epithet ‘Marca Gioiosa’ during the Renaissance), the Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca have become one of the most acclaimed period instrument groups in Italy, renowned both for their Vivaldi interpretations and for their study of lesser-known composers of the Veneto.
Return to the ship and sail overnight to Nuremberg.
Day 6, Thursday 30th August: Nuremberg
Founded in 1771, the Faber-Castell firm is still in family ownership and is still making pencils (and crayons and cosmetics) on this site on the edge of Nuremberg. In the 1840s the family rehoused themselves in an impressive neo-mediaeval castle, and then doubled its size 1903–6.
Dorothea Röschmann soprano
Malcolm Martineau piano
Nuremberg, Schloss Faber-Castell
Lieder recital – Late Romantic songs
Externally foreboding, the principal interiors of Schloss Faber-Castell come as a glorious surprise. A stunning white marble entrance hall leads up to a suite of lavishly decorated reception rooms on the top floor, an outstanding example of Jugenstil, the Central European version of Art Nouveau.
The programme will include songs by Gustav Mahler and Alban Berg, which are contemporary with the wonderful wall paintings in the hall. Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder, settings of poems written by Friedrich Rückert, were first performed in 1905, and Berg’s Seven Early Songs date to 1905–08.
Born in Flensburg, Dorothea Röschmann was awarded the title of Kammersängerin at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin in 2016. She has been a frequent guest at the Salzburg Festival since 1995 and works regularly at the Wiener Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Semperoper Dresden and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. A renowned recitalist, she was awarded a Grammy in 2017 for her solo recital CD with Mitsuko Uchida. Malcolm Martineau is one of the world’s greatest accompanists performs throughout the world with many of the leading singers of our time.
In Nuremberg, two churches in particular, St Sebaldus and St Lorenz, are distinguished not only for their Gothic architecture but also for the sculpture and other artworks they contain.
The afternoon is free for exploration of Nuremberg before the 5.30pm concert at the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall). As one of Europe’s most prosperous cities, it is little surprise that Nuremberg built for itself a town hall which ranked among the grandest of mediaeval civic buildings. The original wing was begun in 1332 but was periodically extended.
Albion String Quartet
Nuremberg, Altes Rathaus
String quartets: a German programme
The 40-metre great hall on the first floor of the Old Town Hall has Gothic tracery in its windows from the 1340s and an impressive timber barrel-vaulted roof of 1521, reconstructed in the 1980s after war-time destruction.
The programme contains some of the best-loved and most moving string quartets by German-speaking composers (at the time of composition the present-day distinction between German and Austrian did not apply): Haydn’s Emperor Quartet (Op.76 No.3), which famously includes the German national anthem, Beethoven’s Harp Quartet (No.10) and Schubert’s Quartet No.14, Death and the Maiden.
The Albion Quartet is one of the most exciting new chamber ensembles to have appeared on the scene recently – new in that their first concert was in September 2016, but the members are among the most talented and highly experienced chamber musicians of their generation. Tamsin Waley-Cohen (violin), Emma Parker (violin), Rosalind Ventris (viola) and Nathaniel Boyd (cello), were brought together by ‘a shared belief in the visceral, communicative power of the string quartet’.
Return to the ship after the concert and sail through the night to Kelheim.
Day 7, Friday 31st August: Regensburg
The morning is spent sailing to Regensburg. There is more free time here before the late afternoon concert in Schloss Thurn and Taxis, which incorporates much of the monastic fabric of the ancient monastery of St Emmeram and is one of the largest private residences in Europe.
The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Mechthild Karkow violin, director
Regensburg, Schloss Thurn und Taxis
German Classical Composers
The monastery of St Emmeram was dissolved in 1810 and given to Prince von Thurn und Taxis, whose forebears had invented the postal service and ran it on behalf of the Holy Roman Emperors for over three hundred years. His descendants still live here. The wonderful Rococo ballroom was put together in the 19th century but recycles 18th-century ornamentation from another of their palaces.
The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, among the most brilliant and celebrated period-instrument orchestras in the world today, provide the final concert in this celebratory setting. Formed by students at the Freiburg music school in 1985, from the outset they were devoted to careful research into historical performance practice and, in the absence of a conductor, lively discussions about interpretation. Scholarship never dampens their artistic instincts, and they play with unsurpassed verve and virtuosity and breath-taking synchronicity – a by-product of being one of the busiest of chamber orchestras.
The programme consists of symphonies by Haydn (No.41 in C) and Mozart (No.29 in A, K.201) and concertos by Franz Benda (flute concerto in E minor; soloist Daniela Lieb) and C.P.E. Bach (oboe concerto in E flat; soloist Antoine Torunczyk).Return to the ship for a reception and dinner. Sail downstream overnight to Passau.
Day 8, Saturday 1st September: Passau, Munich
The ship moors at Passau and coaches leave for Munich city centre and the airport between 8.00am and 9.30am.
See Practicalities for the options available for return travel to London. Selecting flight Option 2 allows for four hours of independent sightseeing in Munich.
Price – per person
Haydn deck (lowest): Two sharing: £3,320 or £3,990 for single occupancy.
Strauss deck (middle): Two sharing: £3,970 per person or £4,760 for single occupancy.
Mozart deck (top): Two sharing: £4,410 per person or £5,290 for single occupancy
Suites (Mozart deck): Two sharing: £5,180 per person
No-flights: subtract £220 from the prices above.
The festival package
Access to the concerts is exclusive to those who take the festival package, the price for which includes:
Eight concerts (seven for the walking party) and daily lectures.
Accommodation on a first-class river cruiser for 7 nights, or for 7 nights in hotels for the walking party.
Flights between the UK and Munich for those on the ship, or London and Munich for the walking party. There is a price reduction if you choose to opt out of these.
All meals, from dinner on the first day to breakfast on the last, with wine, and interval drinks.
Coach travel between the airport and ship or hotel and to the concert venues (when not reached on foot).
All tips, taxes and admission charges.
A detailed programme booklet which contains practical, musical and historical information.
The assistance of an experienced team of German-speaking festival staff.
Additionally, the option of joining a pre-festival tour: King Ludwig II & the Wittelsbach Palaces of Bavaria
The MS Amadeus Silver was built in 2013 and is one of the more comfortable cruisers on the waterways of Europe. The multi-national crew is dedicated to the highest standards of service.
With a minimum floor area of 16m2 the cabins are reasonably spacious by the standards of river cruisers. All have windows to the outside and are equipped with the facilities one would expect of a first-class hotel including shower, w.c., individually adjustable air-conditioning, telephone, TV and safe. Special attention has been paid to noise insulation.
In layout and furnishings the cabins are identical, the significant differences being the size of windows and height above water level (higher cabins enjoy marginally better views and fewer stairs). Beds are twins which can be pushed together or separated. Those on the top two decks (Mozart and Strauss) are the most desirable, having floor to ceiling windows which slide open.
Also on the Mozart deck are twelve suites measuring approximately 24m2 which have a private balcony and minibar. Cabins on the Haydn deck have smaller panoramic windows that cannot be opened. There are no single cabins as such but we are allocating some two-bed cabins for single occupancy. The public areas on the upper deck include the lounge and bar, a library area and a restaurant which can seat everyone at a single sitting. The sun deck has a shuffle and chess board and a tented area for shade. The ship has a lift.
Information about the ship is available at https://www.lueftner-cruises.com/en/our-amadeus-fleet/ms-amadeus-silver.html
Joining and leaving the festival
We are offering a choice of three scheduled flights to Munich, from London or Manchester (with Lufthansa or British Airways). Please note that each outbound flight is tied to a particular inbound flight. You cannot mix flights from different options.
Option 1: Heathrow, lunch at Landshut
Fly from London Heathrow to Munich at 9.00am (BA950, departing Heathrow 09.00, arriving Munich 11.55). Break the journey to Passau with lunch at Landshut, a former capital of Bavaria. There are two hours here, and it should be possible to see the main street with its Renaissance and Baroque house fronts, the great Gothic church of St Martin or the precociously Italianate Renaissance ducal palace.
Return to London Heathrow at 1.45pm (BA951, departing Munich 12.40, arriving London Heathrow 13.45).
Option 2: Heathrow, free time in Munich
Fly from London Heathrow to Munich at 11.05am (LH 2473, departing London Heathrow 11.05, arriving Munich 13.40). Drive directly from Munich Airport to the ship at Passau, a journey of under two hours.
Return to London Heathrow at 7.40pm (LH 2480, departing Munich 18.40, arriving Heathrow 19.40). Coaches take you first to the centre of Munich, where you have about four hours of free time, before continuing to the airport.
Option 3: Manchester
Fly from Manchester to Munich at 10.40am (LH 2501, departing Manchester 10.40, arriving Munich 13.40). Drive directly from Munich Airport to the ship at Passau, a journey of under two hours.
Return to Manchester at 4.40pm (LH 2502, departing Munich 15.35, arriving Manchester 16.40). Coaches take you first to the centre of Munich, where you have about two hours of free time, before continuing to the airport.
It is not usually possible to arrange connecting flights with other regional UK airports.
Making your own arrangements
You can choose not to take any of these flights and to make your own arrangements for joining at Passau, boarding the ship between 4.00pm and 6.00pm. You are welcome to join one of the group transfers from Munich Airport.
There is a price reduction for this option of £220 per person. Pre-festival tour participants
Participants on King Ludwig II & the Wittelsbach Palaces of Bavaria (20–25 August 2018)
Monday 20th August: fly from London Heathrow to Munich at 9.00am.
Saturday 1st September: fly from Munich to London Heathrow, arriving at 1.45pm (festival flight Option 1)
Private events. These concerts are planned and administered by Martin Randall Travel. The audience, no more than 150, consists exclusively of those who have booked the full festival package.
Seating. Specific seats are not reserved. You sit where you want.
Acoustics. This festival is more concerned with authenticity and ambience than acoustical perfection. While some of the venues have excellent acoustics, others have idiosyncrasies not found in modern concert halls.
Floods and droughts. We cannot rule out changes to the programme arising from exceptionally high or low water levels, either of which may bring river traffic to a halt. These might necessitate more travel by coach or the loss of a concert, though we would always try to minimise the impact on the itinerary.
Changes. This brochure was printed twelve months before the festival. Musicians fall ill, venues require restoration, programmes are subject to artists’ changes of mind: there are many unforeseeable circumstances which could necessitate changes to the programme. We ask you to be understanding should they occur.
Fitness for the festival
Quite a lot of walking is necessary to reach the concert venues and to get around the towns visited. The ship has a lift, but most of the venues do not. Participants need to be averagely fit, sure-footed and able to manage everyday walking and stairclimbing without difficulty.
This festival is not really suitable for wheelchair users but please speak to us if you would like to discuss this.
Self-assessment tests. There is no age limit for this festival or pre-festival tours, but we do ask that prospective participants assess their fitness by trying these simple exercises:
- Chair stands. Sit in a dining chair, with arms folded and hands on opposite shoulders. Stand up and sit down at least 8 times in 30 seconds.
- Step test. Mark a wall at a height that is halfway between your knee and your hip bone. Raise each knee in turn to the mark at least 60 times in 2 minutes.
- Agility test. Place an object 3 yards from the edge of a chair, sit, and record the time it takes to stand up, walk to the object and sit back down. You should be able to do this in under 7 seconds.
Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.
Testimonials from clients on previous music festivals:
'I would have a major problem to think of a single criticism. Planning, execution, the programme itself, the joy and enthusiasm of each and every musician and singer, the competence of friendliness of everyone I met from MRT was of the highest level.'
‘This holiday was excellent value for money. I discovered real quality and enjoyed the company of intelligent and engaged fellow travellers.'
'Thank you for the meticulous organization and planning which helped to make our week in Germany so memorable. I was also struck by what a delightful team of young people you had assisting us – so pleasant, smiling and interesting conversationalists.'
'A fantastic tour! I cannot speak highly enough about it. Unusual, satisfying, extremely professional and exceptionally well organised. Thank you.’
'The overall standard of music was outstanding and the choice was subtly eclectic.'
'MRT tours are expensive compared to some others but they are worth it, and no doubt at all that it is worth while to pay more for excellent concerts, in excellent surroundings each time, excellent speakers, everything organised to go smoothly and just wonderfully enjoyable.'
'Organised with MRT perfection, music performed brilliantly by a great variety of performers and an interesting programme.'
'I enjoyed the range of composers, the chamber ensembles and, of course, the beautiful chambers in which they performed.'