The combination of music-making of the highest quality with a pre-Alpine mountain setting is a heady mix. Devotees of the Schubertiade return year after year; addiction is a distinct possibility. Add guided walks and visits in the surrounding area and top up with relaxation among ravishing upland scenery and this begins to sound like the recipe for the perfect holiday for music lovers.
It takes place in the Vorarlberg, the westernmost province of Austria, with all the concerts in the village of Schwarzenberg, described by the philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder as ‘the prettiest village in Europe’. Our tour is based in the neighbouring village of Mellau, seven miles away.
Fly in the morning from London Heathrow to Zurich (British Airways). Drive through Switzerland and into Austria, arriving late afternoon at Mellau in the lovely upland landscape of the Bregenzerwald. All six nights are spent in this very attractive village.
Drive down to Feldkirch, a little town built at a narrowing of the valley of the River Ill. Historic buildings, arcaded streets and a network of alleys nestle beneath high limestone cliffs; a tour includes medieval defences, town hall and Gothic cathedral (altarpiece by Wolf Huber). Return to Mellau for an afternoon lecture before driving to Schwarzenberg for an afternoon chamber concert with Sabine Meyer (clarinet), Christoph Eß (horn), Antje Weithaas (violin), Veronika Hagen (viola), Mischa Meyer (cello) and Michael Lifits (piano): Beethoven: Clarinet Trio in B flat, Op.11 ‘Gassenhauer Trio’, Brahms: Piano Quartet in C minor, Op.60, and von Dohnányi: Sextet in C, Op.37. Dinner in Schwarzenberg before an evening Lieder recital with Christoph Prégardien (tenor) and Julius Drake (piano): selected Lieder by Schubert, Liszt, Loewe, Beethoven, Wolf and Grieg.
Morning lecture before driving to Schwarzenberg for a morning chamber concert with the Schumann Quartett and Sharon Kam (clarinet): Schubert: String Quartet in A minor, D804 ‘Rosamunde’, Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A, K581. There is a free afternoon before driving to Schwarzenberg for an evening Lieder recital with Sophie Rennert (mezzo-soprano) and Joseph Middleton (piano): Schumann: Liederkreis, Op.35, and selected Lieder by Schubert.
Optional hill walking on the Baumgartner Höhe, 4km, 2½ hours, altitude gain 200m, a moderate walk with inclines and terrific views and starting and ending with a funicular ride. Return to Mellau before driving to Schwarzenberg for an afternoon Lieder recital with Konstantin Krimmel (baritone), Julius Drake (piano) and Mathias Johansen (cello): selected Lieder by Schubert.
Morning excursion to Bregenz, the regional capital located beside Lake Constance. Begin in the upper town, the picturesque older part, and walk down to the lake and visit the local history museum. Return to Mellau in the early afternoon for a lecture before driving to Schwarzenberg. Afternoon chamber concert with Sol Gabetta (cello) and Francesco Piemontesi (piano): Beethoven, and Brahms: Cello Sonata No.2, Op.99. Dinner in Schwarzenberg before an evening Lieder recital with Ian Bostridge (tenor) and Saskia Giorgini (piano): Schubert, ‘Winterreise’.
Optional excursion with a guided tour in the small town of Hohenhems, original location of the Schubertiade. Some free time here before returning to Mellau for an afternoon lecture. Drive to Schwarzenberg for an afternoon chamber concert with the Elias String Quartet and Daniel Ottensamer (clarinet): Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op.115, and Schubert: String Quartet in D minor, D810 ‘Death & the Maiden’. Dinner in Schwarzenberg before an evening Lieder recital with Nikola Hillebrand (soprano), Sophie Rennert (mezzo-soprano), Stuart Jackson (tenor), Manuel Walser (baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano) and Joseph Middleton (piano): Schumann: ‘Sehnsucht’, Op.51; ‘Drei Gedichte von Emanuel Geibel’, Op.30; ‘Spanisches Liederspiel’, Op.74; ‘Minnespiel’, Op.101; ‘Spanische Liebeslieder’, Op.138.
Homeward journey. Stop at Winterthur to see the Old Master and Impressionist paintings of the Oskar Reinhart Collection, beautifully displayed in the collector’s home in woods outside the city. Fly from Zurich, arriving at London Heathrow in the afternoon.
Music writer, lecturer and broadcaster for BBC Radio 3. He writes for BBC Music Magazine and Gramophone and has taught classes in Lieder history and interpretation at the Guildhall, Trinity College of Music and Birkbeck College. He read French and German at Cambridge and later studied Music at the Guildhall. His publications include Schubert: The Complete Song Texts and Pocket Guide to Haydn. Twitter: @wigmoresworld | Website: wigmoresworld.co.uk
Price, per person
Two sharing: £3,970 or £3,830 without flights. Single occupancy: £4,220 or £4,080 without flights.
Air travel (Euro Traveller) on British Airways flights (Airbus A320); private coach throughout; accommodation as described below; breakfasts, 5 dinners with wine; all admissions; all tips for restaurant staff, drivers, guides; all taxes; the services of the lecturer.
Tickets to 9 performances are included. Top category for all performances except the afternoon chamber concert on Day 5. Tickets for this performance are second category.
Hotel Sonne, Mellau: 4-star hotel, modern and functional with a pleasant atmosphere and very helpful staff. All rooms are doubles. There is a swimming pool and restaurant. Single rooms are doubles for sole use.
There is some walking through towns and over uneven ground. The optional walk is rated moderate and participants wishing to take part should bring appropriate walking footwear. Average distance by coach per day: 55 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.
'The lecturer is blessed with the magical blend of musical knowledge and sociability.'
'The music was of the very highest quality – excellent seats in the concert hall.'
'A truly wonderful holiday… I think it was worth every penny!'
'We had a thoroughly enjoyable experience, which managed to successfully combine significant musical and intellectual stimulation with a relaxing and very pleasurable holiday in a lovely location.'