This variant on the festival package includes seven concerts and six country walks. The Austrian stretch of the Danube valley is, for much of its length, of considerable beauty, with much variety of landscape – cultivated lowlands, forested peaks, open alluvial plains, vine-clad hillsides, upland pastures, and, of course, the mighty river meandering towards the Black Sea. There are pine and fir and larch, but broadleaves predominate – beech, birch, oak, poplar.
Though hardly classifiable as strenuous, this tour should only be considered by those who are used to regular country walking with some uphill content. There are hills, and a few fairly steep climbs for short stretches, but no mountains, and most of the routes are along gently undulating paths. The durations are between one and three hours.
Find out more about Music along the Danube.
Fly at c. 10.00am from London Heathrow to Vienna. Drive to Dürnstein, perhaps the loveliest little town on the river, where two nights are spent. Walk up to the ruins of a castle where Richard the Lionheart was once imprisoned, and which cling to a steep hill behind the town.
Melk, Dürnstein. Drive to Felbring for an afternoon woodland walk through landscapes of beech and pine, with vistas across the Danube Valley. Walk c. 6km on a mixture of grassy footpaths and stony tracks, on level terrain with some downhill and uphill sections (sturdy walking boots are necessary). Arrive in Melk, a delightful little town on the Danube nestling under the abbey. Lunch here. visit the abbey state apartments and church, which are among the most brilliant creations of the Age of Baroque. Afternoon concert at Melk Abbey with the London Winds, Michael Collins (clarinet): Wind Quintets. Overnight Dürnstein.
Eisenstadt. Drive to the Burgenland for a walk of c. two hours through gently rolling countryside of vineyards and fields. Continue by coach to Eisenstadt. Early evening concert at Schloss Esterházy with the Haydn Philharmonic, Nicolas Altstaedt (director): Haydn, Symphony No. 102 in B-flat, Cello Concerto No.1 in C, Symphony No.6 in C ‘Il distratto’. First of two nights in Vienna.
Vienna. A free morning in Vienna with the option of a walking tour with a local guide. Afternoon Lieder recital concert at the Albertina with Stuart Jackson (tenor) and Julius Drake (piano): songs by Schubert and Mahler. Final night in Vienna.
Leopoldsberg, Dürnstein. Drive up the Leopoldsberg, a high hill with fine views over the capital and the Danube valley. Walk down through beech woods, vineyards and salubrious ivy-clad suburbs on a 5.5km walk on footpaths, country roads and quiet streets. Easy terrain. In the attractive wine-producing village of Heiligenstadt visit the appartment where Beethoven stayed (and wrote the ‘Heiligenstadt Testament’). After lunch return to Dürnstein for some free time before the first evening concert in Dürnstein Abbey church with the Wiener Kammerchor: ‘Vienna Then and Now’: motets by Schubert, Bruckner and Haydn with modern and contemporary works including Max Reger’s Nachtlied (Night Song) Op.138, No.3. Return to the hotel for dinner before the second concert at Dürnstein Abbey with Vokalensemble Alxingers: an a cappella programme including works by Monteverdi, Debussy and Brahms. First of three nights Dürnstein.
Dürnstein, Vienna. A morning walk (2.5 hours) follows a small road that climbs into the vine-clad hills overlooking the Danube and dips periodically into shaded gullies, with butterflies, abundant wild flowers and red- roofed villages in the valley below. Drive to Vienna after lunch for the afternoon concert in Palais Ferstel with the Wihan Quartet and Martin Kasik (piano): Brahms, Piano Quintet in F minor, Op.34; Dvorák, Piano Quintet in A, Op.81. Return to Dürnstein in time for dinner. Second of three nights in Dürnstein.
St Florian, Linz. Drive west for an easy 1.5-hour walk through open fields and woodland to the Abbey of St Florian. Founded in the eighth century, the Abbey became one of the richest in the Austrian Empire. Drive to Linz for the afternoon concert in the Palais Kaufmännischer Verein with Gabrieli, Paul McCreesh (conductor): Mozart, Symphonies Nos 39–41. Return to Dürnstein for dinner. Final night in Dürnstein.
Some free time before travelling by coach to Vienna Airport. Fly to Heathrow arriving c. 3.45pm.
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.
Price – per person
Two sharing: £3,270 or £3,080 without flights. Single occupancy: £3,640 or £3,450 without flights.
Flights (economy class) on scheduled British Airways flights (Airbus 320); travel by coach for transfers and excursions; 7 private concerts; accommodation as described below; breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners with wine, water and coffee; all admission charges; all tips for restaurant staff and drivers; all airport and state taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.
Richard Löwenherz, Dürnstein: a lovely old-fashioned hotel occupying a historic building with garden and outdoor pool. Hotel Bristol, Vienna: a 5-star hotel in a superb location on the Ringstrasse near the opera house, traditionally furnished and decorated.
This is a walking tour, graded ‘moderate’. It is essential for participants to have appropriate walking footwear, be in good physical condition and to be used to country walking with uphill and downhill content. There are a few moderately steep climbs, but no walk is more than 6 miles or 3 hours. There is not always the opportunity to return to the hotel to freshen up before every concert or dinner. For more information, please see our walking tour grading system.
Between 12 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 variety of activities and venues together with the quality of the music made this a very enjoyable tour.
Music and exercise are a winning combination, especially with like-minded souls.
The music was a wonderful diversity of high standards in diverse settings. The attention to detail of the tour manager was exceptional.