This variant on the festival package includes five concerts and five 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.
Fly at c. 9.00am from London Heathrow to Vienna (Austrian Airlines). 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.
Grein, Melk. Drive along a picturesque road beside the Danube to the little riverside town of Auhmühle. Walk on moderately gentle woodland paths and quiet roads, from Auhmühle to Grein, the few steep sections being fairly short. Continue in woods of pine, beech and birch to the sound of tumbling streams before descending through upland pastures and farmland. Catch glimpses of the Danube. Lunch here. Drive onwards to Melk, a delightful little town on the Danube nestling under the abbey. Visit the abbey state apartments and church, which are among the most brilliant creations of the Age of Baroque. Followed by a late-afternoon concert in the Abbey’s Kolomanisaal with Wolfgang Redik (violin) and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra: Mozart, Rondo for violin and orchestra in C, K.373; Symphony No.40 in G minor, K.550; Adagio for violin and orchestra in E, K.261; Symphony No.41 in C, K.551 ‘Jupiter’. Return to Dürnstein for the second of two nights.
Leopoldsberg, Klosterneuburg. 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. Lunch is included, before a short drive to Klosterneuburg Abbey for a guided tour and late-afternoon concert in the Augustinus Saal with Duo Pleyel (piano for ‘four hands’): Mozart’s Real Father – Sonatas and Variations by Mozart and J.C. Bach. First of two nights in Vienna.
Schloss Hof, Kitsee. Drive to Schloss Hof in Marchfeld. Morning concert with the Van Kuijk Quartet: Mozart, String Quartet, K.80 ‘Lodi’; Haydn, String Quartet, Op.74 No.3 ‘Rider’; Mozart, String Quartet, K.465 ‘Dissonance’. Lunch here. Continue to the small town of Berg for a moderate circular walk on the Königswarte which finishes at Schloss Kittsee (6.5 km). The walk offers views towards Bratislava and over the Pannonian Basin. Return to Vienna for the second of two nights.
Vienna. Free morning in Vienna for independent exploration. Participate in an optional walking tour of the city in the afternoon. Early-evening concert in the Rittersaal of the Hofburg with the Mozartists and Ian Page (piano): The A-Z of Mozart Opera (includes a number from every Mozart opera). Return to Dürnstein for the first of two further nights here.
Dürnstein, Maria Taferl. A morning walk of c. 6.5 km starts with a climb of 15 minutes on a small road into the vine-clad hills overlooking the Danube and dips periodically into shaded gullies with butterflies, abundant wildflowers and red-roofed villages in the valley below. The terrain is easy underfoot as the walk is predominantly on quiet, shaded roads. Return to the hotel for some time to refresh. Drive to Maria Taferl in time for an early-evening concert in the Pilgrimage Church with the Vienna Chamber Choir: Sacred Mozart – Solemn Vespers K.339, ‘Te Deum’ K.141, ‘Venite populi’ K.260, Church Sonata No.6, K.212. Final night in Dürnstein.
Travel by coach to Vienna Airport. Return to Heathrow at c. 2.15pm.
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: £3,740 or £3,480 without flights. Single occupancy: £4,220 or £3,960 without flights.
Flights (economy class) on scheduled Austrian Airlines flights; travel by coach for transfers and excursions; 5 private concerts; accommodation as described below; breakfasts, 3 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.
Danish Art & Design, 13–21 July
Franconia, 19–26 July
King Ludwig II, 4–9 August
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 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.'