The Mahler Festival in Leipzig
Join classical music broadcaster Mairi Nicolson for a unique opportunity to hear Mahler’s complete symphonies and other orchestral works performed by world-class orchestras.
The festival in 2023 in Leipzig will feature performances by the city’s own Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Staatskapelle Dresden, among other world-renowned ensembles and soloists.
A festival such as this in the city of Leipzig has significance, because for two years Gustav Mahler lived and worked in Leipzig, where he composed his first symphony and was engaged as Music Director at the Leipzig Opera.
Alongside the festival performances, visit museums and other sights in and around Leipzig and explore the city that has been home to so many of Germany’s greatest composers.
Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested flights. Renaissance Tours can assist you with your travel arrangements, including flights, a private airport transfer and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Arrive in Leipzig and check in to your hotel. In the late afternoon, join Mairi and your fellow tour members for a welcome briefing, followed by dinner.
After breakfast, join Mairi for a pre-performance talk about the upcoming days’ performances. Then, enjoy an orientation coach tour of Leipzig and explore the different districts and city landmarks, including the Gohlis Palace, Rosental Park, the Waldstrassenviertel and the monument of the Battle of Nations. Return to the hotel after lunch and enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
In the evening, attend the Gewandhaus concert hall for the festival’s first performance by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, led by chief conductor Andris Nelsons. For tonight’s performance, the orchestra is joined by the MDR-Radio Choir and two outstanding soloists, soprano Ying Fang and mezzo soprano Gerhild Romberger.
Mahler – Symphony No. 2 in C minor (“Resurrection”)
In the morning, enjoy a guided walking tour of Leipzig, including a visit to the Thomaskirche, where Johann Sebastian Bach was employed as Cantor for more than 25 years. Visit also the Alte Nicolaischule, where Richard Wagner went to school, and see too his birth place.
After lunch, enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure, before returning to the Gewandhaus in the evening for a performance of the Munich Philharmonic, conducted by Tugan Sokhiev. Mahler’s idyllic Fourth Symphony, premiered by the same orchestra in 1901 and conducted by Mahler himself, is paired with the impressive song cycle Das Lied von der Erde for orchestra, alto and tenor, sung by Ekaterina Gubanova and Andreas Schager.
Mahler – Symphony No. 4 in G major
Mahler – Das Lied von der Erde
After a pre-performance talk with Mairi, enjoy the rest of the morning at leisure to explore Leipzig at your own pace.
In the afternoon, attend a concert in the Mendelssohn Hall of the Gewandhaus, where Mahler’s Piano Quartet will be performed, alongside other works. After dinner, return to the Gewandhaus to listen to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra perform Mahler’s imposing Fifth Symphony. Mahler established a special relationship with this resident orchestra of Amsterdam, conducting many Dutch premieres of his symphonies himself.
PROGRAM (Matinee performance)
Mahler, Brahms, Schnittke – Chamber music works
PROGRAM (Evening performance):
Mahler – Symphony No. 5 in C minor
In the morning visit the Bach Museum with a private guided tour. The museum celebrates the composer’s life with interactive musical displays and original manuscripts.
Lunch and the remainder of the afternoon are at leisure before returning to the Gewandhaus in the evening to hear Mahler’s Tenth Symphony, his final composition. He left the work unfinished but, as is custom, the version performed tonight was completed by Deryck Cooke, based on sketches left by the composer.
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is led by its current musical female director, conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.
Mahler – Symphony No. 10 in F Sharp minor (completed by Deryck Cooke)
After a pre-performance talk, enjoy a guide tour of the Mendelssohn House, situated just outside the city centre. Mendelssohn moved to Leipzig in 1835, when he was appointed Director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra. Afterwards there is the possibility to visit the Museum of Musical Instruments, with its large collection of historical musical instruments, or to step inside the Grieg House, also located nearby.
In the evening, attend the Gewandhaus once more, for a performance of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony with the renowned Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Harding.
Mahler – Symphony No. 7 in E minor
Enjoy a full day at leisure to relax or explore Leipzig further at your own pace. Then, in the evening attend a performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, performed by the renowned Budapest Festival Orchestra, conducted by the illustrious Iván Fisher, who has received outstanding reviews for his interpretations of Mahler’s music.
Mahler – Symphony No. 9 in D minor
Following a pre-performance talk by Mairi, visit the Schumann House, where Robert and Clara Schumann lived for part of their married life. Both were composers and performers in their own right, but it has only been recently that Clara’s compositions have found an audience. Robert Schumann composed his famous Rhenish Symphony while living in Leipzig.
In the evening, hear the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra perform Mahler’s First Symphony, brimming with youthful exuberance and optimism. Seasoned conductor Daniele Gatti leads the orchestra, from the opening sounds of nature to the jubilant finale.
Mahler – Symphony No. 1 in D major
After a short coach transfer, arrive at the Gohliser Schlösschen, an excellent example of a Rococo-style country house, for a private tour. One of Saxony’s most beautiful mansions, it is home to an interesting collection of musical instruments.
In the evening, the Staatskapelle Dresden, led by its esteemed music director, Christian Thielemann, will perform Mahler’s impressive Third Symphony for orchestra, female and children’s choir and alto voice.
Mahler – Symphony No. 3 in D minor
Travel by coach to Rochlitz Castle in the Middle Saxony countryside, south-east of Leipzig. For more than one thousand years the castle has towered majestically over the Mulde River. After lunch, continue to Kriebstein Castle, near Waldheim, to discover Saxony’s most beautiful knight’s castle.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon, followed by an evening at leisure.
After a pre-performance talk, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Then, return to the Gewandhaus in the evening to hear works from Mahler’s earlier years, such as the rarely-performed cantata Das Klagende Lied and the well-known song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn.
The MDR Symphony Orchestra will be taking to the stage at tonight’s performance and is led by conductor Dennis Russel Davies. They are joined by the MDR Choir and soprano Chen Reiss, alto Sophie Harmsen and tenor Attilio Glaser.
Mahler – Das Klagende Lied; Totenfeier; Des Knaben Wunderhorn
On the final day of the Mahler Festival, hear two performances at the Gewandhaus. In the morning the Czech Philharmonic performs the powerful Sixth Symphony, conducted by the Russian-born Semyon Bychkov. Afterwards, enjoy a special farewell lunch with Mairi and your fellow travellers.
In the evening, Mahler’s monumental Eighth Symphony is performed by the Gewandhaus Orchestra, again conducted by Andris Nelsons. The orchestra joins forces with eight vocal soloists and five choirs, together to create the so-called Symphony of a Thousand.
PROGRAM (Morning performance):
Mahler – Symphony No. 6 in A minor
PROGRAM (Evening performance):
Mahler – Symphony No. 8 in E flat major (“Symphony of a Thousand”)
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast. Renaissance Tours can assist you with your travel arrangements, including flights, a private airport transfer, a room category upgrade and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Second payment per person (17 November 2022)
Deposit per person AUD 2,500
At time of booking
Second payment per person AUD 4,500
17 November 2022
17 February 2023
Room category upgrade available on request. Please enquire with us.
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Cathay Pacific / Lufthansa
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa for Germany.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in a 4-star superior centrally-located hotel with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner); wines with meals
- Category 1 tickets to all performances included in the itinerary, as indicated
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout in comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- Transfers on arrival and departure
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, room service, etc.
- Travel insurance: a condition of travel (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Leipzig – Leipzig Marriott ****+
N.B. A hotel of a similar standard may be substituted.