9 days
Duration
Europe
Destination
Level 2 - Moderate
Activity

Discover Beethoven's life and music

Gain a deeper appreciation of German composer Ludwig van Beethoven on this small group tour as we journey across Austria and Germany.

Widely regarded as one of the world's greatest composers, Ludwig van Beethoven (1170-1827) was a leading figure in the transitional period between the 18th century Classical and 19th century Romantic ages of Western classical music. His important works and best-known compositions were Symphony No. 5, with its beloved first four notes; and Symphony No. 9, famous for its stirring choral finale featuring the words of Friedrich Schiller's poem, Ode to Joy.

Beethoven was born into a musical family in the city of Bonn, Germany, and his first music teacher was his father. Johann van Beethoven wanted to turn his son into a musical prodigy (a la Mozart) but Beethoven would only attract attention for his musical genius in his adolescence. In any case, when Mozart met Beethoven, the former announced that Beethoven would make "a great name for himself in the world"--a pronouncement that would prove true.

Beethoven studied under the opera composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe and the composer Joseph Haydn, but added unique innovations to his work that put more emphasis on music as expressions of mood and feeling. He continued composing even while battling deafness, producing awe-inspiring pieces that move audiences to this day.

Our tour allows you to discover Beethoven in more depth, by putting him in context within the history and culture of 19th century Germany.

Small Group Tours Beethoven Itinerary

The tour begins in the city of Bonn, where Beethoven was born. We spend the first few days taking in churches, fine architecture, and city precincts where Beethoven formed his unique artistic sensibility. We also visit the Parish church in which many of his compositions were first performed. We make a guided tour of an organ workshop, and visit Augustburg Palace and a museum dedicated to Robert Schumann, one of the Romantic era's most famous composers to whom Beethoven was a significant influence.

We also explore Drachenfels Castle, a ruined castle atop an enormous rock. The castle became popular with tourists when it was immortalised by Lord Byron in his long poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. The castle became a pilgrimage destination for artists, musicians and writers during the Romantic era.

We take a walking tour in the city of Vienna, particularly to key sites where Beethoven composed and performed. Vienna was where Beethoven studied composition under Joseph Haydn, and consequently gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist.

One of the highlights of this music tour is the opportunity to attend five concerts during the eight nights of the trip. Performances of Beethoven's work include the Opening Concert at the Beethovenhalle and two more performances in this season. We also enjoy a recital event at the Vienna Staatsoper (State Opera House).

Frequently Asked Questions about Beethoven and our Germany tours:

  • How many symphonies did Beethoven write?

Beethoven composed nine symphonies, along with five piano concertos, a violin concerto, thirty-two piano sonatas, sixteen string quartets, a mass (Missa solemnis), and an opera (Fidelio).

  • Why did Beethoven write Moonlight Sonata?

Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata, was and is among his most popular compositions, both in his own time and today. Unlike most of his works, there is little evidence to indicate that Beethoven was commissioned to write the Moonlight Sonata; it appears he did so on his own inspiration. The sonata was dedicated to Giulietta Guicciardi, an Italian countess and pupil of Beethoven's, with whom he was in love but could not marry due to her aristocratic background.

Beethoven called the piece 'sonata in the style of a fantasy'; the popular nickname, 'Moonlight Sonata' was given after his death by the critic Ludwig Rellstab, who compared the piece to a boat floating under the moonlight on Switzerland's Lake Lucerne.

  • Was Beethoven's deafness caused by Paget's disease?

The causes of Beethoven's deafness remain unknown to us today. Theories include syphilis, lead poisoning, typhus, and his habit of plunging his head into cold water to stay awake. A number of scholars have suggested that Beethoven may have suffered from Paget's disease, a metabolic disease that causes abnormalities in bone structure. If it occurs in the head, it can block nerves and damage the tiny bones in the ear - leading to hearing loss. Though of course we cannot know for certain, Paget's disease is a plausible explanation that can explain virtually all the symptoms that Beethoven experienced.

For more information about this tour, check out the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ pages above. To make a booking, please call, send us an email, or simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.

Music lovers may also enjoy our Bach tour, our opera tour, and our other music and performing arts tours. Travellers may also be interested in our other tours to Germany and Austria.

Make sure to take a look at our article on Music and the Austrian Hapsburgs.


PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

Overview: After making our own way to Bonn, we meet at the hotel for a welcome dinner and tour orientation.

Accommodation: 4  nights at Sternhotel Bonn or similar

Overview: Today, we explore Bonn on foot, taking a tour of the city that incorporates many of the main sights related to Beethoven. We visit Beethoven House, the Parish Church of St Regimius (where many of Beethoven’s early works were first performed), and the Old Cemetery.

In the afternoon, we learn about the life and works of Robert Schumann — who was himself great influenced by Beethoven — at the Schumann Museum.

In the evening, we enjoy a spectacular performance at the Beethovenhalle and have dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Sternhotel Bonn or similar

Overview: After breakfast, we take a guided tour of the Organ Workshop Klais. The family-run company that operates this Workshop designs, builds and restores pipe organs. Founded in 1882 by Johannes Klais senior, the Workshop provides fantastic insight into the ongoing significance of pipe-organ music in Germany.

Later in the day, we visit Augustburg Palace and Hunting Lodge Falkenlust — both are UNESCO cultural World Heritage Sites since 1984. They are connected by the spacious gardens and trees of the Schlosspark. Augustusburg Palace and its parks also serve as a venue for the Brühl Palace Concerts.

Accommodation: Sternhotel Bonn or similar

Overview: Today, we enjoy a cruise on the Rhine River to Konigswinter, via Bad Honnef.

We experience the majesty of Drachenfels Castle, a ruined castle atop an enormous rock. The castle gained popularity in the romantic era after it was featured in Lord Byron’s long poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Subsequently, this rock and castle became an important German tourist and Romanticist pilgrimage destination.

In the evening, we enjoy another unforgettable performance of Late Romantic works at the Beethovenhalle, back in Bonn.

Accommodation: Sternhotel Bonn or similar

Overview: Today we travel by coach to Cologne, where we meet our local guide for a tour of this extraordinary city. Sightseeing includes a tour of Cologne Cathedral, Germany’s most popular tourist destination. Despite being left incomplete during the medieval period, Cologne Cathedral now stands as an architectural masterpiece that recently gained status as a World Heritage Site.

From Cologne, we fly together to Vienna, where we check into our new hotel and enjoy dinner.

Accommodation: 4 nights at Hotel am Konzerthaus or similar

Overview: We enjoy a tour of Vienna with a local guide, taking in the main sights, including a visit to the Beethoven memorial.

We also visit the Central Cemetery where we can pay respects at Beethoven’s grave.

In the afternoon, we visit the Beethoven House in Heiligenstadt, where, in 1802, he wrote the “Heiligenstädter Testament”. This letter, wherein he expressed despair over his advancing deafness, was never sent to his brothers.

In the evening, we experience a classic ensemble concert, which features music from Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, and — of course — Beethoven.

Accommodation: Hotel am Konzerthaus or similar

Overview: After breakfast, we head to the House of Music for a guided tour of the Vienna Staatsoper, Vienna’s premier opera venue.

Accommodation: Hotel am Konzerthaus or similar

Overview: After breakfast, we have the morning free to explore Vienna at our own pace.

We then visit the Pasqualati Museum before coming together for an evening concert at Vienna Staatsoper, and a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Hotel am Konzerthaus or similar

Overview: After breakfast, we say our farewells and the tour draws to an end.

1
Explore Beethoven’s cities of Bonn and Vienna, where he lived
2
Delve deeper into the life of Beethoven through a series of artistic and cultural experiences
3
Tour the Beethoven House in Bonn, as well as the Beethoven house in Heiligenstadt
4
Visit Cologne Cathedral, where some of Beethoven’s works were first performed
5
Experience the extraordinary Beethoven Festival in Bonn, celebrating the composer’s life and works

Tour Inclusions

  • 8 nights of hotel accommodation in Bonn and Vienna
  • 8 breakfasts and 4 dinners
  • All excursions, sightseeing, and entrance fees as per the tour
  • Entrance to the Beethoven Houses in Bonn and Vienna
  • Numerous concert tickets to see performances of Beethoven works
  • Detailed preparatory material
  • Local guides, as well as the services of an Odyssey tour leader

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Return economy class international airfare and departure taxes
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • Items of personal nature such as laundry and phone calls

Beethoven small group tour
Beethoven Statue, Germany
Cologne, Germany
Old town hall at Bonn, Germany
Birthplace of Beethoven, Bonn, Germany
Beethoven Statue, Bonn, Germany
Drachenburg Palace on Dragon`s Hills, Bonn, Germany

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