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Germany's Music CountryAugust 16, 2011 By: Andrew Conway Travel Agent
|A statue of Neptune dominates Weimar’s central square.|
If music be the food of love, as Shakespeare wrote in Twelfth Night, then travelers to the German cities of Leipzig, Weimar, Bayreuth and Heidelberg can partake of a feast of romance and culture in the coming months.
With a host of festivals, events and concerts being planned, such as the 800th anniversary of the acclaimed St. Thomas Boys Choir in 2012 and the 200th birth anniversary of Richard Wagner in 2013, a leisurely tour of Germany’s “music country” may be music to your clients’ ears.
The logical place to start is Leipzig, in eastern Germany, with its astonishing wealth of music, art and cultural attractions, many within the compact city center and walking distance from one another. Excellent walking guides can be booked via Leipzig Tourism and the three-mile Leipzig Music Trail will open in 2012, connecting the city’s key historical sites.
Johann Sebastian Bach, recently named “greatest composer in history” by The New York Times, spent much of his life in Leipzig and visitors will find myriad references to his genius here, from the Bach Museum to charming St. Thomas Church where he was cantor and is buried. Tip: Music lovers can hear the choir on Fridays at 6 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m., and at Sunday services.
Felix Mendelssohn’s House is another must-see. The only remaining private address of the great musician has been restored to what it looked like when Mendelssohn lived there in 1845.
For shopping and dining, suggest the stylish Maedler-Passage arcade and popular Auerbachs Keller restaurant. Tip: Clients should ask to see the unique painted cellar immortalized by Goethe in Faust. A drink in one of Leipzig’s pub alleys, Kleine Fleischergasse or Barfussgasse, is a lively way to end the evening.
A 90-minute drive by coach or car southwest of Leipzig takes visitors to Weimar, a small but significant town with UNESCO World Heritage status due to its historical links with some of the greatest minds and musicians in history: Goethe, Schiller, Nietzsche, Liszt and Bach, among others. This pretty town, with some 25 museums to explore, demands at least an overnight stay. Hotel Elephant, a Starwood hotel, features elements of the Bauhaus architectutal style that originated in Weimar.
A two-hour drive south of Weimar leads to Bayreuth. Music is the major draw here, starting with the exquisite Baroque-style Margravial Opera House, built in 1774 and arguably the finest in Europe.
|Bach is celebrated throughout Leipzig.|
Richard Wagner’s Greek-inspired Festival Hall or Festspielhaus, built in 1876, is rarely open for tours, but it’s easier to get into the New Palace and Court Garden, built in 1753 and home to the Richard Wagner and Franz Lizst Museums. Suggest clients also see the 18th-century Hermitage and Court Garden and the factory and showroom of Steingraeber and Sons, one of Germany’s top piano manufacturers.
Travel Agent stayed at the comfortable Ramada Hotel Residenzschloss Bayreuth, close to many of the major attractions in town.
While Heidelberg doesn’t have as rich a musical heritage as Leipzig or Bayreuth, this romantic city three hours’ drive west of Bayreuth makes for a fitting finale to a tour of Germany’s music country. The centerpiece is Heidelberg Castle, which is perched on the slopes of Mount Konigstuhl and has panoramic views of the city, the fairytale-like Old Bridge and the Rhine plain.
Travel Agent stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Heidelberg, just a short walk from many of the city’s best attractions.