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 at c. 12 noon from London Heathrow to Zurich (British Airways). Drive through Switzerland and into Austria, arriving early evening 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 all-Beethoven piano recital with Igor Levit: Sonata in E, Op.109; Sonata in A flat, Op.110; Sonata in F minor, Op.111.
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 of Beethoven string quartets with Quatuor Ebène: No.1 in F, Op.18/1; No.10 in E flat, Op.74 ‘Harp’; No.9 in C, Op.59/3 ‘Rasumovsky’. Dinner in Schwarzenberg before a Lieder recital with Ian Bostridge (tenor) and Igor Levit (piano): Schubert, ‘Winterreise’.
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. In the afternoon drive to Schwarzenberg for Schubert’s ‘Die schöne Müllerin’ with Andrè Schuen (baritone) and Daniel Heide (piano). Dinner in Schwarzenberg before more Beethoven quartets with Quatuor Ebène: No.6 in B flat, Op.18/6 ‘La Malinconia’; No.15 in A, Op.132.
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. Lieder recital with Elisabeth Kulman: Schubert, Brahms, Liszt and Wolf. Dinner before a recital with Renaud Capuçon (violin) and Kit Armstrong (piano): Dvořák, Sonatina in G, Op.100; Mendelssohn, Violin Sonata in F minor, Op.4; Schubert, Violin Sonata in A, D574 ‘Grand Duo.’
Free morning in Mellau before driving to Schwarzenberg for a recital with Mauro Peter (tenor), Felix Klieser (horn) and Helmut Deutsch (piano): Lieder by Schubert and Mozart. Dinner in Schwarzenberg before a concert with Cuarteto Casals (string quartet) and Elisabeth Leonskaja (piano): Haydn, String Quartet in E flat, Op.33/2 ‘Joke’; Mozart, Piano Quartet in G minor, K.478; Schumann, Piano Quintet in E flat, Op.44.
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 c. 5.00pm.
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: £3,830 or £3,670 without flights. Single occupancy: £4,020 or £3,860 without flights.
Air travel (Euro Traveller) on British Airways flights (Airbus A319); private coach throughout; accommodation as described below; breakfasts, 5 dinners with wine (2019) / 6 dinners with wine (2020); all admissions; all tips for restaurant staff, drivers, guides; all taxes; the services of the lecturer.
Tickets (top category) to 9 performances are included, costing c. £595.
Hotel Sonne, Mellau: a 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 FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
'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.'