Holiday ideas for music lovers

Why not let the landscapes which inspired some of Europe's great composers inspire your own choice of holiday?

Music to your ears

  • Given its serenity and beauty (the best time to visit is May, when the fruit trees are in blossom), it’s no great surprise that Edvard Grieg visited the Hardangerfjord year after year in the 1870s and 1880s to compose. Needing complete privacy, he would retreat to his cabin – which stands to this day in the Hotel Ullensvang’s grounds – writing some of the most important pieces of Norwegian music, including part of Peer Gynt. Bergen, where our holiday ends, has links to the great composer too: his former house is now a museum, and public concerts are held each week in summer.
  • Mallorca’s Tramuntana Sierra, where immaculately terraced citrus groves clamber defiantly up the steep slopes, is dotted with handsome villages, in which flower pots line the cobbled streets in front of green-shuttered houses. The most picturesque, according to Chopin, is Valldemossa, which he described as ‘the most beautiful place in the world’. Its setting was first endorsed in the 14th century by royalty – King Sancho built a palace here, though it had been converted into a monastery by the time that Chopin came to compose in the winter of 1838/9. His piano can still be seen in the monastery.
  • Elegant Ravello is the jewel in the crown of Italy’s spectacular Amalfi Coast. Wagner found inspiration for Parsifal at the Villa Rufolo, which boasts some of the town’s most breathtaking views across the steep slopes and over the sparkling Mediterranean. It is fitting that this handsome mansion and its manicured gardens are the setting for classical music concerts each summer. During the day, you can walk along the panoramic ‘path of the gods’ and stepped mule tracks that wind through the lemon groves, or explore towns such as Positano which cling to the slopes.
  • Although very different in character, one being Mediterranean, the other distinctly Alpine, the Amalfi Coast (see above) and Lake Lucerne have two common ties: both fuse mountain and water to dramatic effect and both inspired Wagner. He lived in a lakeside mansion on the outskirts of Lucerne between 1866 and 1872. It was here that Siegfried Idyll, which he wrote as a present for his second wife, premiered. Along with his Erard grand piano, the score is the centrepiece of the museum here, which houses a wide range of memorabilia from the composer’s time in Lucerne.
  • Salzburg’s most famous son is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was born in the city in 1756. His birthplace and childhood home is now a museum, which you can visit on our winter rail journey. To experience the Salzburg Festival, a celebration of Mozart’s and other composers’ works, visit in summer after a walk amid the inspiring scenery of Salzkammergut or Berchtesgadener Land, or as part of our Austria’s Great Cities Journey (the festival usually runs from mid-July to the end of August).

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