Music in the Mountains
Experience breathtaking music and scenery at the best of Europe’s summer music festivals in Switzerland and Austria.
Wonder at the beauty of the Swiss Alps in summer as you soak up the extraordinary array of classical music and outstanding performances by internationally-renowned musicians at the Verbier and Gstaad Menuhin Festivals.
Then in Bregenz, enjoy among the best seats for Carl Maria von Weber’s masterpiece Der Freischütz and hear the echoes of exceptional operatic and classical music reverberate across Lake Constance from atop the world’s largest floating stage.
Arrive in Geneva on suggested flights and make your way to the hotel. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including travel insurance (a condition of travel), a private hotel transfer, accommodation before or after the tour and a room category upgrade.
In the late-afternoon, join your tour leader Christopher Lawrence and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing followed by dinner.
Depart Geneva for the Manoir de Ban near Vevey, where London-born Charlie Chaplin lived the final 25 years of his life. His mansion overlooking Lake Geneva was turned into a museum in 2016 while a separate Hollywood-style studio showcases the humour and emotion that were so dear to Chaplin.
This afternoon, begin the ascent up the mountains to 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 peaks still retain their snowcaps even at the height of summer.
In the evening, attend the opening concert of the Verbier Festival (full program details to be announced in November 2023).
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 staged away from the large cities where 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, the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra and most recently the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra, a special initiative of Engström to nourish young classical music talent. Along with up-and-coming performers, the festival attracts some of the greatest musicians on the international circuit including András Schiff, Leonidas Kavakos, Joshua Bell, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Bryn Terfel, Garrick Ohlsson and Martha Argerich, to name but a few.
Begin the day with a talk by Christopher on the coming days’ performances. Then enjoy concerts by some of the world’s great soloists accompanied by the Verbier Festival Orchestra and Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra.
Spend the day at concerts featuring the Verbier Festival Orchestra, the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra and renowned visiting international soloists. In between performances, you may like to go behind the scenes and visit one of the open rehearsals which occur throughout the duration of the festival, where members of the public are invited see how particular pieces are perfected and where the culture of exchange between artists comes to life.
Enjoy another day to soak up the exquisite sounds of classical music performed by visiting stars and the Verbier Festival’s resident ensembles in a stunning alpine setting. You may like to further explore the mountainous surroundings on a walk or simply appreciate the views from the comfort of a local café.
Depart Verbier for the picturesque Château de Chillon, built on a small rocky island in Lake Geneva with the Alps as its backdrop. The castle was built by Peter II of Savoy in the 13th century and is one of the best-preserved medieval castles of Europe. For a long period, it served as a state prison and was made famous by Lord Byron’s poem The Prisoner of Chillon, recounting the fate and suffering of François Bonivard, thrown into the dungeon for his seditious, anti-Savoy ideas and freed by Bernese forces six years later.
After lunch in the charming lakeside town of Montreux, continue to Gstaad, located in the picturesque hills and valleys of the Saanenland region.
This evening, attend the first of the performances at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival included in our tour.
The Gstaad 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 fifty concerts performed over a two-month period, ranging from Baroque to Classical, Romantic and contemporary classical music.
After a talk by Christopher, travel to the nearby town of Gruyères for a tour of a traditional Gruyère cheese factory.
Enjoy an authentic Swiss lunch in town, followed by some time at leisure to stroll around Gruyères – a picture-perfect medieval town watched over by its castle.
This evening, enjoy a concert at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival (full program details to be announced in November 2023).
The day is at leisure to further explore the pleasant, car-free village of Gstaad at your own pace. Maybe set off on one of the many short walking trails or take the cable car to the top of the Wispile for fine views of the surrounding countryside.
In the evening, attend another Gstaad Menuhin Festival performance.
This morning, depart Gstaad and travel to Tribschen, where Richard Wagner lived from 1866 to 1872, composing Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and parts of Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.
Then, continue to the charming town of Zug, arriving in the late-afternoon. The evening is at leisure.
Travel by coach from Switzerland to Austria. Enjoy a guided tour of the remarkable Abbey Library of Saint Gall – one of the oldest and most beautiful in the world. The monastic library boasts a collection of around 160,000 volumes, 400 of which over 1,000 years old. The manuscript B of the Nibelungenlied is kept here.
Arrive in the town of Lochau, perched on the edge of Lake Constance, in the mid-afternoon.
After a talk by Christopher, attend the first of the performances we will be attending at the Bregenz Festival at the town’s Festspielhaus – a matinee concert featuring the Vienna Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor-in-residence Enrique Mazzola and featuring German clarinettist Sabine Meyer.
Mayer – Faust-Ouverture, Op. 46
von Weber – Concert for clarinet and orchestra No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73
Stravinsky – The Firebird, Ballet suite
The remainder of the day is at leisure to enjoy the scenic setting of this fine Austrian town located on Lake Constance.
The Bregenz Festival
Founded in 1946, the Bregenz Festival is an annual performing arts festival featuring a variety of music and theatrical performances on the shores of Lake Constance each summer. A number of different venues host a wide variety of concerts throughout the duration of the festival, but the most well-known is the Seebühne – a 7,000-seat open-air amphitheatre which is the world’s largest floating stage, built over the waters of Lake Constance. The Vienna Symphony Orchestra is the most significant contributor to the Bregenz Festival and each year guest composers are brought in from around the world to perform alongside world-class soloists. Popular operas are a staple of the Bregenz Festival’s regular program, and recent productions include Madame Butterfly, Rigoletto, Carmen and Turandot. Under the artistic direction of Elisabeth Sobotka, the festival continues to grow and as the number of events and scale of performances increases, so does the number of musical enthusiasts who flock from all around the world to witness the magic.
In the morning, embark on an excursion to Lindau, an island-town located in Germany on the eastern side of Lake Constance. Experience Lindau’s rich history on a guided walking tour of the town and stroll along the lakeside promenade or the Maximilianstrasse – the town’s main shopping street.
Return to Bregenz in time for lunch. Then, discover the secrets of the world’s largest Seebühne (floating stage) on a backstage tour; take a look behind the scenes and find out all about the history of the Bregenz Festival.
This evening, return to the Festspielhaus for Rossini’s Tancredi directed by Jan Philipp Gloger. The performance features the acclaimed Vienna Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yi-Chen Lin and Russian mezzo-soprano Anna Goryachova in the title role.
The morning is at leisure to further explore Bregenz at your own pace.
In the late-afternoon, board the MV Hohentwiel, a historic steamship built in 1913, for a farewell dinner cruise on Lake Constance with Christopher and fellow travellers. Dock at the wharf adjacent to the floating stage of the Bregenz Festival in time for the final performance of the tour – Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz, widely considered one of the first German masterpieces in the world of opera.
Tour arrangements conclude with a group transfer to Zurich airport for suggested mid-afternoon flights to Australia or New Zealand. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Second payment per person (due 17 January 2024)
Deposit per person AUD 5,000
At time of booking
Second payment per person AUD 3,500
17 January 2024
17 April 2024
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally-located 4- and 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner), including wines with meals
- Premium category tickets to all included performances (or best available)
- Lectures and talks by your tour leader, Christopher Lawrence
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Group transfer to Zurich airport on day of tour end if travelling on suggested flights
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers and wait staff
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport porterage
- Airport transfer on arrival
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Geneva – Hotel President Wilson*****
Verbier – Hotel Le Vanessa****+
Gstaad – Hotel Arc-en-ciel****
Zug – Hotel Löwen am See****
Lochau (near Bregenz) – Seehotel am Kaiserstrand****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Tour code: ML2403
Fitness level: Moderate
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions here.
Suggested airline: Emirates
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, Germany and Austria.
Download booking form here.