CSQ-WFMT Beethoven Cycle Tour

Daily Itinary

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Sunday, October 25

Flights from the US arrive in Budapest the following day.


Upon arrival, we transfer to the #1 rated hotel in Northern Europe according to Condé Nast Traveler, the Four Seasons Gresham Palace, with its spectacular art nouveau lobby and award-winning restaurant. A late afternoon cruise on the lovely Danube River precedes our welcome dinner at one of Budapest’s finest restaurants.


Breakfast daily at all three hotels. The city of Budapest is a union of two ancient cities divided by the wide Danube. This morning we’ll tour the old town of Buda, stopping at the fascinating Bela Bartok Archive where we will listen to examples of the folk melodies out of which he crafted his masterpieces. Then we’ll lunch in Buda before descending the hill to Pest for a tour of the sumptuous Hungarian State Opera House, one of the grandest buildings in Hungary. Nearby is the Franz Liszt Museum, the composer’s home for the last four years of his life. A respite at a famous old-world café marks the end of our day. Dinner on your own and evening free.


After breakfast, the morning is devoted to recent events in Budapest’s history. We’ll tour Heroes Square, and the House of Terror Museum, the former headquarters of the Nazis and later the Stasi, the Communist secret police. Lunch is on your own, and your afternoon is free. Tonight the Cypress String Quartet begins its survey of Beethoven’s complete string quartets with a concert at the Vigadó Concert Hall. Opened in 1864 and beautifully restored after bombing damage in World War II, the hall has hosted many storied artists including Franz Liszt, Wagner, Johann Strauss Jr, Dvorak and Debussy. Dinner will follow at a nearby restaurant.


Before departing Budapest, the Cypress performs the 2nd in the Beethoven cycle at another impressive venue, The Liszt Music Academy. Founded by Liszt, himself a student of Beethoven, the Academy has served as music capital of the city since 1875. The building and its world renowned university has hosted most of the major artists of the past and current century. Lunch follows before we leave for Vienna by our private motorcoach. Upon arrival in the great city, we check in at the grand Hotel Imperial on the Ringstrasse, since 1873 one of Vienna’s most elegant addresses. Tonight you have the option of a concert by the Cleveland Orchestra in one of the world’s greatest concert halls, the Musikverein, across the street from our hotel. Dinner on your own.


Strolling through the historic center from Saint Stephen’s, where Bruckner played the great organ, we enter the Imperial Palace to view many of the lavish, intricately crafted symbols of Habsburg power in the Hofburg’s Treasure Chamber. After lunch at the Schwarzen Kameel (Black Camel) in a characteristic jugendstil (art nouveau) building, we visit the great summer palace of the Habsburgs, Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens. Evening free.


This morning we offer a private tour, exclusive to the group, of Vienna’s Fine Arts Museum with its famous paintings by Breughel, Caravaggio, Arcimboldo, and many others. For a change of pace, we then visit a lesser known gem: the Leopold Museum—and its collection of jugendstil painting and decorative arts. Lunch is in the lovely Palmenhaus in the Burggarten. In the afternoon, we then travel to the suburb of Heiligenstadt to visit the house of Beethoven, where—in the most profound crisis of his life—he penned the “Heiligenstadt Testament” admitting his growing deafness. Nearby is the birthplace of Franz Schubert, born here in 1797, and the site of the 3rd performance in our Beethoven cycle. Dinner on your own and evening free.


Morning free and lunch on your own. This is a great opportunity to watch the famed Lippizzaner horses go through their paces, hear the Vienna Choir Boys, visit the Freud Museum or visit any number of other Vienna landmarks. Tonight is the 4th concert of the Beethoven cycle, in the historic Eroicasaal of the Lobkowicz Palace. Here Beethoven led an early performance of the “Eroica” Symphony and premiered the 4th Symphony as well as other important works. After the concert, we celebrate the end of our stay in Vienna with dinner at the Hotel Bristol, one of the best restaurants in the city.


We bid aufwiedersehen to Vienna to travel by motorcoach to the gorgeous city of Prague on the river Moldau. En route, we stop for lunch in the town of Mikulov. In Prague, we will reside in intimate luxury at the musicthemed Aria Hotel, where every room is named for a composer and a vast music library is at your disposal. We’ll tour Strahov Monastery, founded in 1143, with a special private visit to its Baroque library, and take in its spectacular view overlooking the city. Dinner is on your own and your evening is free.


Today we ascend Prague’s Castle Hill to visit the Royal Palace, scene of many major events in the city’s history, the cathedral of St. Vitus, and medieval St. George basilica. Nearby, lunch is at U Zlate Hrusky [The Golden Pear]. Afternoon free. Tonight the 5th concert of Beethoven’s complete string quartets takes place at the beautiful Gregor Hall in Prague’s magnificent art nouveau Municipal House.


Passing through the Old Town Square to see the extraordinary astronomical clock, we take a walking tour of the unique Jewish Quarter. Visits to the Old Jewish Cemetery, a veritable tumble of centuries-old tombstones, and the gothic Old-New Synagogue are fascinating and we’ll hear about the life of the quarter’s most famous resident, Franz Kafka. The afternoon is free before our final concert this evening. The 5th Prince Lobkowicz was one of Beethoven’s most important patrons to whom the composer dedicated the Opus 18 quartets, the Eroica Symphony and other works. We will tour the family palace on Castle Hill and view its prized art collection, original scores and manuscripts by Beethoven and Mozart. The private concert precedes a Gala Farewell Dinner.


The tour ends after breakfast and flights home to the US, arriving the same day.

Itinerary subject to change.
Meals in bold are included in the price of the tour.


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