Six Obligatory Stops for Classical Musicians and Fans
Classical composers left footprints all over Europe, which means that no list of places to see could ever claim to be exhaustive. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a few locations that I feel a traveler might want to visit, whether for research or simply to bask in the surroundings where your musical heroes lived and died. Many of these places also put off concerts or special exhibits, especially during the summer, so it’s a good idea to do some research to plan your trip accordingly.
1. Budapest, Hungary: Béla Bartók lived in what is now known as the Memorial House from 1932 until 1940. It was opened up to the public on the composer’s one hundredth birthday (long after his death in 1945 from secondary polycythemia, a complication of leukemia).
2. Budapest, Hungary: In the same town as Bartók, but several decades earlier, Franz Liszt lived in an apartment in what was then the Academy of Music. He spent the years 1881 to 1886 in this flat, which has been reconstructed for the museum. Many of his original instruments, books, scores, and other items are housed here.
3. La Côte Saint André, France: A museum has risen in Hector Berlioz’s birthplace in this smaller town in the province of Dauphiné in eastern France. In 1821, at the age of 18, this Romantic composer moved to Paris to pursue what he called “the most demanding of arts.” The museum draws out his early years, when he studied the flute and the guitar before embarking on his life’s journey.
4. Vienna, Austria: Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) contains the graves of Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, and Ludwig Beethoven. The latter was first laid to rest in the Waehringer Ortsfriedhof (Waehringer local cemetery) next to Schubert, but in 1888 their bodies were relocated to the Zentralfriedhof. When Brahms died of liver cancer in 1897, his body was buried in the same cemetery, which is fortuitous since he openly respected both of his predecessors.
5. Leipzig, Germany: Johann Sebastian Bach worked at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig for the second half of his working life. For this reason, the Bach Museum is housed here. His grave also lies in the church graveyard, so visitors can enjoy his life and honour his passing in one stop.
6. Bergen, Norway: The house of Edvard Grief was only inhabited by the composer and his wife Nina during the summer from 1885 until he died in 1907. In the winter, the couple would go on tour around Europe. The house, known as Troldhaugen, became a museum in 1995. Grieg’s final resting place, as well as his cabin, are also considered a part of this museum.
Have you been to any of these places? What did you think?
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