Music in the Mountains
Experience music-making as breathtaking as the scenery at the ‘crème de la crème’ of European summer music festivals, in Switzerland’s Verbier, Davos and Gstaad Menuhin Festivals.
In glorious Alpine and lakeside settings, enjoy a stellar line-up of world renowned orchestras, conductors and soloists , attending 15 performances across the Verbier, Davos and Gstaad Festivals. In Verbier, enjoy concerts by Daniil Trifonov, Pinchas Zukerman and Mischa Maisky, and in Gstaad attend bravura performances by Maxim Vengerov, Roby Lakatos and Hélène Grimaud. In between, spend two days at the Davos Festival, where each year gifted young musicians such as the Berlin-Tokyo Quartet are invited to perform chamber music in ever-changing combinations.
Between performances, relax, refresh and reinvigorate in the glorious Swiss Alps, and enjoy jaw-dropping scenery on the famous Glacier Express.
Arrive in Geneva in the afternoon on suggested Qatar Airways flights via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.
Make your way to the hotel and check in, before a special welcome dinner with Marshall and fellow music-lovers.
In the morning, depart Geneva for Verbier. Set high in the Swiss Alps, Verbier is located on a south-facing terrace in the Val de Bagnes, and its rolling grassy hills rise to meet the great alpine conifer forests, while in the distance some of the mountain tops still retain their snowcaps even at the height of summer.
This evening, attend a performance by Russian piano phenomenon Daniil Trifonov, one of the headliners of the Verbier Festival 2018, performing works by Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Schumann and more.
The Verbier Festival
The brainchild of Swedish music historian and record executive Martin T:son Engström, the Verbier Festival was established in 1994, and was deliberately held away from the large cities in which classic music festivals are usually held so as to encourage a collaborative atmosphere between established and emerging musicians. In subsequent decades the Festival has grown to comprise the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra. Along with up-and-coming performers, the Festival attracts some of the greatest musicians on the international circuit – Daniil Trifonov, Pinchas Zukerman and Mischa Maisky to name but a few.
Begin the day with a talk by Marshall on the upcoming performances in the Verbier Festival, and then attend a concert by two rising stars of Austrian Classical music, cellist Kian Soltani and pianist Aaron Pilsan, performing sonatas by Bach and Brahms.
The afternoon is at leisure before a performance of Brahms’s Double Concerto in A minor and Symphony No 4 in E minor by Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth, accompanied by the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra.
After a pre-performance talk by Marshall, attend a concert by the Ebony Quartet collaborating with guest pianist András Schiff, performing Schumann’s Quintet in E♭ Major and an innovative version of César Franck’s Quintet in F minor. The piano part was originally written for the composer’s friend Camille Saint-Saëns, who performed it at the Paris premiere in 1880.
In the evening, enjoy the Verbier Festival Orchestra and Israeli cellist Mischa Maisky performing a trio of powerful works from the Romantic Era to the late 20th century: Beethoven’s Symphony No 5, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor and Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture.
Enjoy a morning talk by Marshall, followed by a concert by young Canadian piano prodigy Jan Lisiecki, performing works by Schumann, Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Chopin.
In the evening, attend a performance by the La Cetra Barockorchester Basel under the artistic direction of Andrea Marcon. Named after a lyre-like string instrument used in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, La Cetra was founded in 1999 to perform significant works of Baroque and Classical music on original instruments, and tonight they will perform a collection of works by Monteverdi with Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená.
Check out from the hotel and travel to Davos via the scenic Glacier Express, a narrow gauge railway whose stunning views and triumph of civil engineering has seen it entered on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Opened in 1904, the Glacier Express (which connects the Albula and Bernina railways) links scores of tunnels and covered galleries which bore through the solid limestone of the Central Alps, and the construction of the railway opened the villages of these isolated valleys to the outside world.
Arrive in Davos in the late afternoon, and in the evening attend the Opening Concert of the Davos Festival, featuring the works of Cage and Brahms.
After a morning talk by Marshall, continue your experience of the Davos Festival with a ‘Musical Walkabout’, a gentle stroll between several churches in the town of Davos with performances at each stop by choir ensembles and solo artists. The Musical Walkabout culminates with a performance on the Schatzalp, the ‘Magic Mountain’ which watches over Davos, reached by a short funicular ride.
The afternoon and evening are at leisure to enjoy Sunday in summery Davos at your own pace.
Established in 1986 by Michael Haefliger (who now directs the Lucerne Festival), the Davos Festival brings together young musicians on the threshold of great careers for two weeks of performances in ever-changing combinations. The Festival focuses on chamber music from the classical to the contemporary, drawing performers and audiences from around the world for its joyous, youthful energy.
Enjoy a day-trip to the village of St Moritz, the delightful Alpine resort known as ‘The Top of the World’. Located at 1,800 m in the Albula Alps, in the upper reaches of the Engadin valley, St Moritz is graced with a beautiful glacial lake and a charming collection of buildings rising up the mountain from the lakeshore.
After lunch in St Moritz, return to Davos for an evening concert by the Berlin-Tokyo Quartet, an ensemble formed in 2011 by students at the two conservatories of Berlin. Tonight, this energetic young group will perform string quartets by Morton Feldman.
In the morning, check out from the hotel and travel to Lucerne via Vaduz, capital of the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein. Nestled between Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein emerged from the labyrinthine politics of the Holy Roman Empire as an independent state, and has maintained that status ever since, now enjoying one of the highest standards of living in the world. With an area of only 160 sq km, the micro-state has a very particular national politics – during a constitutional dispute, an exasperated Prince Hans-Adam II once threatened to quit the country and sell the whole thing to Bill Gates! Fortunately, he relented.
Enjoy a guided tour of Vaduz followed by some free time to explore this little gem of the Alps.
In the afternoon, continue to Lucerne, before dinner in the evening.
In the morning, visit the villa in Tribschen overlooking Lake Lucerne where Richard Wagner lived from 1866 to 1872, composing Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and parts of Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. Then continue to Gstaad in the afternoon.
This evening, attend the first of our performances in the Gstaad Menuhin Festival, with a concert by violinist Maxim Vengerov and the Menuhin Academy Soloists playing a range of works by Beethoven, Bloch, Tchaikovsky, Sarasate, Fauré, Bazzini and Paganini.
Gstaad Menuhin Festival
Famed violinist Yehudi Menuhin founded the Gstaad Festival (later named in his honour) in 1957. He had moved to the area with his family earlier in the decade, and was enchanted by Gstaad’s blend of German-speaking culture with Italian influences. The Festival brings together acclaimed international musicians to perform with friends and collaborators, as Lord Menuhin said, “in a relaxed atmosphere”. The Festival is now one of the highlights of the Swiss summer, with more than 50 concerts performed over a two-month period, ranging from Baroque to Classical, Romantic and contemporary classical music.
Travel to the nearby town of Gruyères for a guided tour of a traditional Gruyère cheese factory and an authentic Swiss lunch, followed by a tour of the town’s picturesque castle and a quaint local chocolate factory.
In the evening, return to Gstaad for a concert by the flamboyant and mercurial Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos, known for his combination of Classical, jazz and Romani string music traditions.
Spend a morning and afternoon at leisure in Gstaad, nestled within the pleasant countryside of the Berner Oberland (Highlands of Bern).
In the evening, after a talk by Marshall, attend a concert by bold and inventive French pianist Hélène Grimaud performing Brahms’s Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor and Symphony No 1 in C minor with the Gstaad Festival Orchestra.
In the morning, attend a talk by your tour leader followed by a performance by Bulgarian pianist Victoria Vassilenko as part of Gstaad’s ‘Matinée of Young Stars’. From a family of musicians, Vassilenko was the winner of the George Enescu Competition in 2016.
Enjoy a special farewell lunch with Marshall and fellow travellers to celebrate the conclusion of a fortnight of music in the mountains. In the evening attend our final concert, with Moldovan violinist Alexandra Conunova and Menuhin Heritage Artist and harpsichordist Jean Rondeau performing a series of concertos by J.S. Bach and his musically gifted progeny W.F. Bach, C.P.E. Bach and J.C. Bach.
Check out from the hotel and transfer to Geneva Airport in time for flights departing from 15:00 onwards. Tour arrangements conclude on arrival at Geneva Airport.
Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
30 May 2018
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit Switzerland.
Tour price includes
- Premium (category 1) tickets to all included performances
- Pre-performance talks by your tour leader, Marshall McGuire
- Accommodation in centrally located 4 and 5 star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Other meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wine with dinners
- Hotel/airport transfer on departure
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfer on arrival
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contract Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Geneva – Hotel President Wilson *****
Verbier – Hotel Le Vanessa ****+
Davos – Hotel Seehof Davos *****
Lucerne – Renaissance Lucerne Hotel ****
Gstaad – Park Gstaad *****
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted